Need an exercise that works the abdominals but doesn’t require any crunching? The front plank is one of those exercises. This anti-extension core exercise relies on maintaining stability throughout the entire kinetic chain. One big problem I see when I look around most gyms is that people aren’t holding perfect technique for the plank variation they are trying. One person has bent knees, while the other has their butt way up in the air. It is essential to hold the spine in a neutral position throughout this exercise. Imagine placing a dowel or PVC pipe from the back of the head to the butt, is there any space between it and the body? If so, maybe that type of plank is too difficult and you need to regress, or just clean it up a bit.
There are several different variations of front planks ranging from starting on the knees to elevating the feet and using the TRX. It all depends on your current fitness level and core stability to determine where you should begin. I recommend mastering the basic positions first and getting more difficult from there. So many people ask the question, “How long should I try to hold the plank before moving on?” I would recommend being able to hold the plank for 45sec to 1 minute before moving on to the next variation. But remember, proper technique is more important than time.
Steps to properly execute the exercise:
- Support the upper body along the length of the forearms
- Support the lower body by placing the weight on your toes
- Completely lock out the knees by squeezing the quadriceps tight
- Engage the gluts by squeezing the butt
- Make sure the spine is in a neutral position (use a dowel or pipe if needed)
- Hold strong from the core to maintain this position
The following examples of front plank variations are actually the same body position but we are either regressing by performing it from the knees, or progressing by making it dynamic or utilizing the TRX.
Kneeling Front Plank
TRX Feet Elevated Front Plank
TRX Feet Elevated Body Saw
Garrett McLaughlin is an Athletic Trainer and Personal Trainer in Nashville, TN. He creates personal training and injury rehabilitation programs for the general population and athletes. Garrett is passionate about not only working one-on-one with clients, but educating them on health & wellness so they can continue making positive choices throughout their lives. Check out Garrett’s Facebook wellness page for more frequent information.