Planking is a simple but effective bodyweight exercise.
Holding the body (light as a feather) stiff as a board develops strength primarily in the core—the muscles that connect the upper and lower body—as well as the shoulders, arms, and glutes.
1. Plant the hands directly under the shoulders (slightly wider than
shoulder-width apart) like you’re about to do a push-up
2. Ground the toes into the floor and squeeze the glutes to stabilize the
body. Your legs should be working in the move too; careful not to lock
or hyperextend your knees.
3. Neutralize the neck and spine by looking at a spot on the floor about a
foot beyond the hands. Your head should be in line with your back.
4. Hold the position for 20 seconds. As you get more comfortable with the
move, hold your plank for as long as possible without compromising
form or breath.
This variation, also one of the most common ways to perform a plank, is slightly easier than holding the body up with just the hands. Place the forearms on the ground with the elbows aligned below the shoulders, and arms parallel to the body at about shoulder-width distance. If flat palms bother your wrists, clasp your hands together. (Note: Any of the following plank variations can be performed with straight arms or in a forearm position.)
This plank is noticeably easier to hold than the traditional straight-arm plank, making it great for beginners becuase it allows them to concentrate on form. By resting the knees on the ground, there’s less stress on the lower back. Rest your knees on a rolled up mat or towel if they feel uncomfortable on the floor.
This variation better engages the obliques, or the side muscles of the core, than a standard plank. Lie on one side with the legs stacked on top of one another then prop the body up on the hand or elbow while keeping the feet stacked. Modify the position by raising the opposing arm or leg (or both!) in the air to make the plank more difficult, or make the move easier by crossing the upper leg in front of the body for additional support.