The plank is a fantastic exercise because it works your entire core – upper and lower back, and deep abdominal muscles – as well as improving posture and balance. You don’t even have to move (which doesn’t mean it’s easy).
Your core muscles support you on the bike – a strong core will reduce fatigue and injury.
We spoke to Fitness Trainer and Writer, Julia Buckley, who is a “big fan of planks” to find out how to perform the perfect plank.
Julia suggested you practice in front of a mirror at first so you can spot any errors – it’s important to keep your back straight, not allowing your hips to ‘pop up’ or drop – and remember not to stop breathing (it happens)!
Here we go – just follow these three steps:
Lie face down on the mat. Keep your legs together straight out behind you and come up onto your elbows. Make sure the elbows are placed directly below the shoulders. Your hands can either stay palms down on the mat or you can clasp them together.
Keeping the back straight and head in line with spine, tuck your toes under and lift the hips and legs so that your body is now supported on your elbows and the balls of your feet. Your body should be in a straight line from head to heels.
Squeeze the buttocks and pull the tummy in tight as you hold the position. When you are ready to release, lower yourself slowly back on to the mat.
If you find the full plank hard to hold, Julia suggested you try beginning with your elbows and knees on the floor.
There are many styles of plank, and Julia advises moving into variations – such as side planks, planks with weights or movements included, once you can hold the basic plank for a couple of minutes, rather than further trying to improve your ‘plank PB’ over 2 minutes.
Julia offers online personal training programmes and one-to-one sessions – find out more here.