We all know someone who claims to be able to hold a plank for 15 minutes. While none of us has ever stayed long enough to witness this incredible 15-minute plank, it's safe to imagine that the form isn't flawless, particularly near the end of the time limit.
Whether you're maintaining a crazy-long plank or practicing the technique for 30 seconds at a time, if you're not doing it correctly, the exercise is meaningless. Brush up on proper plank technique and make sure to avoid these five frequent blunders.
1. Arching Your Back
Arching the lower back is one of the most prevalent plank blunders. When your core becomes tired, it's natural to let your waist sag toward the ground, causing your back to misalign.
Although this error may not usually result in immediate harm, it does put stress on the lower back, which can contribute to lower back pain or sensitivity over time.
Allowing the lower back to arch also negates the exercise's core-strengthening advantages. That's because your abdominals aren't working as hard to keep your body upright, resulting in a halt in your progress.
How To Fix It
I recommend tucking your pelvis down to keep your back straight. To keep your lower back from slumping, draw your belly button into your spine and raise your hips up into your chest.
2. Looking Around
During your plank, looking up at a mirror or clock can help you check your form or stay on schedule, but it can also mess up your form. A plank requires you to keep your complete body in a straight line from your head to your hips to your heels.
Your body will be thrown out of alignment if you look at a clock or a mirror on the wall. Holding your head in this posture for even a few planks a week can create neck discomfort and upper back muscular tension.
How to Fix It
Maintain a long neck and focus your gaze on your hands (forearm plank) or straight down in front of you (in high plank). This will keep the trap muscles from bunching up and the neck from craning.
3. Sagging Hips or Hiking the Hips
You might be tempted to raise your hips to the ceiling or sink them toward the ground to give your abs a break about 45 seconds into a minute-long plank. It's possible that you're doing it without even recognizing it!
How to Fix It
The plank is a full-body workout in which your legs and glutes are engaged. Contract your quads and compress your glutes to keep your hips from rising toward the ceiling or sinking toward the ground. This will help you activate your core and level your hips.
4. Hunching Your Shoulders
You may notice that your breath becomes irregular as your plank holds get longer and your body begins to shake (hang in there, you're almost there!). Is your shoulder hunched up about your ears? Now is the moment to assess your form.
If you answered yes, you've made yet another major error. Bundling your shoulders can tighten your upper back muscles, causing your neck to strain against the tension. Furthermore, having bunched shoulders makes it more difficult to keep a consistent breathing rhythm, which is essential for any workout.
How to Fix It
While planking, keep your shoulders down and back. As your breathing becomes more difficult, inspect your body and make sure your shoulders are in the proper position.
5. Spending Too Much Time Planking
It's unsurprising that plank challenges have become popular on social media. The majority of them ask you to stay on a plank for greater and longer periods of time week each week. According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), that mentality completely misses the target when it comes to effective plank exercise.
Holding a plank for long periods of time will undoubtedly result in tiredness and a loss of form. And it's meaningless to do any exercise with poor form. If you can hold a plank with proper technique for several minutes at a time, the exercise is probably too easy for you.
How to Fix It
According to the ACE, planks are a terrific fundamental move that can help you establish beginner-level core stability. Planks, on the other hand, keep the muscles flexed and burn fewer calories than movement-based exercises. Move on to more strenuous core exercises instead of holding planks for several minutes at a time.