Healthy Bodies
  • Southeast Wisconsin
  • February 2015
Written by 

Plank: The new situp

Core work done flat on your back is out and core work where 360 degrees of your core can be accessed is in. Plank is the new situp: an empowering position where all your core can be accessed and utilized. It’s a position in which gravity and your own bodyweight can be a practitioner’s best friend. Instead of cranking on your neck and upper back, Plank can teach you how to hold up your own bodyweight by using your core and working from the inside out.

Plank is a challenging pose, but for many, for the wrong reasons. As a fitness professional, I often hear things like: “My wrists hurt,” “My lower back aches” or “I can’t hold this very long.” Sometimes, some of the variations of Plank are questionable — if even effective — mainly because students often lack the true understanding of how to use their bodies in a pose like Plank to build strength and effectiveness.

Improve your plankasana

To improve your Plank pose, consider a deeper understanding of your core region. For starters, work to locate and get comfortable contracting your pelvic floor. Everything feeds into the pelvic floor and the rectus abdominus muscle is not exempt. Working with your exhales and toning the pelvic floor like it’s being pulled up toward the base of the head is a great image to keep while holding Plank.

As you get more comfortable with a deep pelvic floor contraction, focus on the deep transversus wrapping around the torso and the rectus abdominus muscle that covers your front belly. These two large core muscles work to support the torso and body in a pose like Plank and when contracted properly, help more evenly distribute the weight of the rest of the body more evenly for less wrist and lower back pain.

How to do Plank

  • Begin in Table Top.
  • Check that your hands are under your shoulders, with eyes of your elbows (the center crease of the inside elbow) and fingers forward, spread wide.
  • Before stepping back into Plank, activate the deep muscles of your pelvic floor, feeling as though they are being drawn internally toward the crown of your head.
  • Exhale. Step back one foot at a time, without moving or shifting your body backward or shifting your hips upward.
  • Coming off the knees, align your body into one long line.
  • Keeping your neck long, let your eye line drop to the floor between your hands.
  • Exhaling, actively press your quadriceps upward into your hamstrings while engaging your inner thighs. Activate your abdominals toward your spine against gravity. Finally, allow your tailbone to drop slightly (due to the strength of your core), not turn up.
  • Inhale. Press up through your arms and down through every finger and your palms so you push out at the shoulder and broaden your upper back. Avoid winging in the scapula and over rounding in the mid-spine.
  • Extend from the heels of your feet to the crown of your head.
  • Hold this pose for five breaths to one minute.
  • Exhale. Release to your knees and drop back to your heels.

No matter where you are starting from, Plank is a powerful core-strengthening pose and one that can and should be incorporated into everyone’s fitness routine.


Hope Zvara

Hope Zvara, The Real Deal, is a yoga teacher and owner of Copper Tree Yoga Studio & Wellness Center, a trainer and expert specializing in the true art of yoga and Core Functional Fitness™ for students, teachers and fitness professionals interested in practicing authentic mind-body yoga and other practices in need of true connection. Follow Hope as she travels across the globe bringing true functional core work into everything that you do. To book a workshop, training or retreat with Hope, call 262-670-6688, and visit her websites http://hopezvara.com or http://coppertreewellnessstudio.com to sample one of her hundreds of free videos on YouTube.

Website: coppertreewellnessstudio.com
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