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Plank Exercise

How to do a proper plank exercise

The plank exercise when demonstrated without any explanation is more often than not completely misunderstood. Doing the plank exercise correctly is not about balance or building core strength but rather to develop a full body workout.

Anyone can do the plank exercise but doing it correctly goes far beyond the basics of just getting into the plank position and keeping it that way for a minute or two. You need to focus on the various isolations that need to be done in order to continue getting results from the plank exercise.

Using optimal technique in your exercise program is not just the best way to train; it's the only way to train if you want to succeed for the long-term. Below is a list of very important pointers and tips on how to get the plank exercise done correctly.

If you're using a less efficient technique or if you're neglecting one or two of the components, then you put a limit on your performance right from the start, and this can be easily be changed. If you want to get results from the plank simply follow the tips below.

The Plank Exercise – Technique Cues and Tips

1) Arm Positioning – Elbows must be placed directly beneath your shoulders – joints in one line (like a skyscraper). Weight should be distributed directly beneath your upper arms, under the elbows. The forearms should be pointed in whatever direction is most comfortable, with no additional weight on the forearms, wrists or hands (from no forward lean). The hands may be flexed into a fist or relaxed.

2) Shoulder Pack – Shoulders must be packed down on the ribcage to connect the structure of the arms to the structure of the core muscles. Actively contract the lat muscles to pack the shoulders down in relation to your torso.

3) Spinal alignment – The spine should be lengthened in equal opposite directions. Lift your head away from your shoulders, lengthening your neck while simultaneously reaching your tailbone in the other direction. Do not round the spine or extend the neck. Maintain this long spine throughout the entire duration of the set.

4) Core and glute activation - Activate the core musculature with a gentle contraction while also contracting the glute muscles, which results in a slight tailbone tuck (similar to a dog tucking its tail between its legs). Your exhale should be timed with this contraction (see below).

5) Leg drive – Instead of just balancing on your ball of feet, drive them backwards into the ground by contracting your quad muscles, which will extend your knees to lockout. Push your feet backwards into the ground, which will drive your heels backward in combination with the knee extension. This should be counter-balanced with a forward arm drive, creating an “arch effect”.

6) Foot and Leg Positioning - The best position for your feet is hip-width apart. For those who have tighter hips with limited range of motion, it's ok to place your feet a little wider (e.g. shoulder-width stance). Similar to your forearm positioning, experiment with what feels best for you. You don't want any excess strain on your hip joints or the surrounding musculature to distract you or limit your performance.

7) Breathing Technique - In combination with the core and glute activation (and the resulting hip tuck), passively exhale the air out of your lungs until most or all of it is expelled. Allow an inhale to be sucked back in as you relax your lungs and throat (actively inhaling is unnecessary and may result in lightheadedness from temporarily over-oxygenating your blood). Once you have a lungful of air, repeat the slow exhale process again throughout the duration of your timed set.

In my book “The Muscle Experiment” I talk about how I was able to put on a solid 39lbs of solid muscle in less than 6 months with bodyweight training, and exactly how YOU can do it as well. In case you haven't downloaded The Muscle Experiment, I suggest you download it immediately and start implementing the little known techniques. This alone should put you on the road to massive size and strength.

To your success,

Mike Thiga

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