The plank really is one of our most favourite Pilates and Yoga movements. When performed correctly it’s simple, effective and transformative.
You’ll primarily work the core but also your shoulders, arms and booty. It really is a total body workout!
But it’s important to check your plank technique, you don’t want to make common mistakes as these will lead to injuries and stop you from progressing.
We can definitely thank one of our earliest instructors (we’re talking to you Andrew!) for creating our obsession with proper form and technique when it comes to Yoga and Pilates.
Maybe also a combination of Carla’s Virgo personality and also the fact that I (Emma) had back issues from scoliosis… we are passionate about helping you perfect your plank technique.
And we’re guessing if you landed on this page… you might have a few issues on your plank technique?
Maybe you feel super weak and the plank feels impossible?
Or your shoulders ache, not in the good bad kinda way but the bad bad kinda way?
Maybe you’ve been doing knee planks for what seems forever and you really want to progress to the toes but you’re nervous or you just don’t know how?
Well, keep reading! Because by the end of this you will be planking with more confidence and feeling stronger than ever.
But also, keep reading even if you don’t think you need to work on your technique… because you never know, you might learn something new to make it feel even better.
We mostly teach classes Pilates and Yoga classes online with our MerryBody Online Studio but we do both teach in real life once a week at a local Studio here on the Gold Coast, Australia.
It is in the real-life studio where we see some fairly bad plank technique. And we don’t say this to bring shame or embarrassment! We are just extremely passionate about technique and form as this leads to more effective movement and more importantly, fewer injuries!
When you get your form right, this means you can progress your Yoga and Pilates practise and you can keep doing Yoga and Pilates with less annoying niggles, pains and injuries getting in your way.
We know this can be extremely frustrating… and dangerous! If you’re anything like us… we’re not the greatest at resting, but this is just as important as the moving!
How to perfect your plank technique
- Place your hands directly under your shoulders, or a little wider if it feels better, micro bend your elbows, spread the fingertips. But hold the arms really strong, like you’re pushing up from the ground.
- Your toes are tucked and you should have one straight line from head to heels, this means your hips don’t drop toward the Earth and your booty doesn’t hike up to the sky.
- Draw your shoulders away from the ears.
- Keep your core, booty, and quads engaged to help stabilise your body. Press the heels back towards the space behind you.
- You want to feel your lower ribs pull back toward the spine and down toward the hips.
- Neutralize your neck and spine by looking at a spot on the floor about 30cm in front of your hands and gently tuck the chin.
- Option, drop knees down to the ground. Still a great option, you will feel it!
- Option, come to your elbows, clasp the hands. The elbows will be directly under the shoulders.
- Depending on how you feel, start with a 20 second hold and then build from there.
Or even better, follow this MerryBody Plank Tutorial video.
Inside the Studio Library, you’ll find a bunch of tutorial videos designed to help you get your form and technique great. To help you reduce injuries and help you progress your practice with more confidence (also we are always available for feedback and help!).
Learn more about MerryBody Online Studio and begin your 7 Day free experience HERE.
Common plank technique mistakes
Now that you’ve read the plank tips and watched the video you should know if you’re making any of the below common mistakes.
And don’t worry if you are! Now you know and you can work towards creating better and safer technique which will lead to more strength and confidence.
- You don’t switch on the core. Be sure to draw your belly button inwards and upwards.
- You look straight ahead and flare the ribs. This will create instability and can also lead to neck injuries. Correct this by looking 30 cm ahead of your hands, drawing ribs to hips and gently tucking the chin.
- You drop your head and look towards your knees, try to keep your neck as an extension of the spine, gaze 30 cm ahead of the hands.
- You lock out your elbow joints, putting extra pressure on the joints. Be sure to soften those elbows ever so slightly, this will also engage and use your arm muscles more.
- You drop the pelvis and butt towards the earth, adding way too much pressure and weight on your lower back, this can be very dangerous! Pull the butt up so you’re in a straight line or even raise the butt up a little more than you think (we’d rather it be too high than too low).
- You stick the butt too high in the air, making more of a down dog pose than a plank. Still a great pose, but not a plank! Get that booty down!
- Your hands are too far out in front or too close towards your feet. This can lead to shoulder injuries. Ensure the hands are directly below the shoulders.
- You forget to breathe. We promise this helps! Focus on the breath and everything will feel better!
Ok! So yeh, there are many things you can do wrong BUT don’t let this stress you out. Simply start where you are and as you practise we guarantee you will progress! You will see and feel improvements.
Once you feel strong and safe in your plank then you can start playing around with fun modifications…
… like single-leg raises, mountain climbers, hip dips, side planks, elbow taps.
We have a lot of fun with these moves in MerryBody Pilates and Yoga classes. But we ALWAYS share regression modifications too, this way you feel confident regardless of your experience. Some days we choose the lower option.
If you have any questions or if you want us to check out your technique, reach out! Send us a video or pic of your plank via Social Media or inside the private MerryBody Members group! We’d love to see them and help you perfect your plank technique!
Emma + Carla
Ps. Try your FREE MerryBody 7 day Experience here.
Pps. For MerryBody members, if you’re inspired to get planking why not try the Planking Bliss Fusion class. CLICK HERE to do the class and get ready for the serious burn to serious bliss, in just 25 minutes you’ll strengthen the abs, arms and legs, PLUS stretch out the booty, hip flexors, chest, neck AND inner thighs