It's a full body exercise!
Planking is hands down one of the best exercises you can do for your core, but it also strengthens and tones your back, glutes and shoulders. No matter what type of workout you're into, there's always room for a plank. During class at The Bar Method Hoboken, we do two planks and sometimes our teachers even sneak in a (much welcomed) third. Here, owners Melissa and Lucy share everything you need to know to make sure you're getting the most out of the exercise. From form to timing, we got you covered.
"Form in plank in our classes is vital because it's a quick exercise, it's important to get the most out of it," comments Lucy.
It is important that your elbows are underneath your shoulders and your hips are in line with your shoulders. This focus will prevent any low back discomfort and drive the force into your core. It's also important that the glutes are squeezed tightly, as this helps stabilize the lower body and prevents hip flexor involvement.
Aim for about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. It should be long enough to warm up the body's largest muscle groups, increase your heart-rate, but short enough to not overstrain the body.
"Deep breathing is a key component to planking, so we encourage you check in with your breath and use it to physically draw your abdominals up towards your spine," states Lucy. It wasn't until I became Bar Method obsessed that I truly understood how to work with my breath throughout exercise other than yoga.
In Bar Method classes, there are many challenge options given, such as pressing your heels back and forward an inch, bend-stretching your legs, folding one leg in half and lifting from that glute, and side-planking to name a few. My personal favorite is pressing my heels towards the back of the room ever so slightly while keeping straight legs.