How to do a plank

The plank is the single best exercise you can do for your core

Doing the plank with proper form will make you stronger. 

The plank looks simple, yet it works the abs, lower back, glutes, legs, arms, and shoulders.

It pretty much works your whole body.


The plank is equipment free. 

You can do it at home or outside in the park.

You can change your body's position to make it easier or harder.  

To learn how to do a forearm plank with proper form, check out this video:

Forearm Plank


As you can see from the video, the exercise is simple.

You simply:

1. Get down on all fours with your palms flat and hands under your shoulders. Keep them a little wider than shoulder-width apart. It's like doing a push-up.

2. Brace your core and squeeze those glutes to keep your body up and prevent the hips from dipping and sticking up. Keep your belly button pulled in.

3. Bend your elbows to lower your body down until you can shift your weight from your hands to your forearms. Your body should form a straight line. Hold for 30-60 seconds. Rest and repeat.

plank exercise

If it is too easy for you, then try one of these "plank variations". 

By holding your body in a straight line with no movement, you'll develop strength in your core— as well as other muscle groups.

That's how you do a plank.

Now let's take things up a notch and learn the standard plank.

Standard Plank

Standard plank

1. Get down on all fours as you would do a pushup. Keep your palms flat and hands under your shoulders. Wider the shoulder-width apart. 

2. Your body should form a straight line from your head to your ankle. Contract your abs to prevent your butt from sticking or dipping.  With your abs pulling in toward your spine, hold for 30-60 seconds.

The longer you can hold the plank, the harder it becomes. 

How Long Should You Hold the Plank? 

Well, that's up to you.

But as a rule of thumb, learn to hold for 120 seconds with a good form before moving up. 

At that point, try other variations that are more suitable for your fitness level.

That's unless you are trying to beat Tom Hoel world plank record, which is 4:28 minutes.

For me, I never held a plank for more than 2 minutes. 

What Are the Benefits?

There are many benefits of doing the plank. 

The main benefits of planks are that it allows you to train your core as a whole.

This is important since your core muscles don't move independently. 

It moves together to provide stability for your legs, arms to generate movements.

A strong core is important because it's what connects your upper and lower body together. Every motion either originate or move through the core.

A weak core will impair how well your arms and legs move.

A strong core enhances balance, stability, and your body functions. 

Another benefit of the plank exercise is that it's safe on the back.

Since it's not a motion exercise, it allows you to develop your core strength without putting excessive pressure on your spine and lower back. 

In fact, doing the plank not only reduces back pain but it also strengthens the core muscles that provide a strong support for the back (1).

Plank Workout Ideas

There are many ways you can add the plank to your workout.

But here are a few workout ideas that include the plank.

  • 30 Day Plank Challenge: Taking a 30-day plank challenge is a great way to commit to doing the plank and get your body used to it.
  • 6 Minute Morning Workout: This quick and simple bodyweight workout only lasts about 6 minutes. It includes the plank and is a great way to kick-start your day. 
  • 30 Day Fitness Challenge: This 30-day workout challenge combines the plank with other exercises to get your body in shape.

Exercise Table

Reps Sets Level Location
Hold for 30 seconds 2-3 Easy Gym or Home

Take Home Message

The proper way to do a plank exercise.

The plank is a simple yet very effective exercise you can do to develop core strength.

And as a bonus, it also tones the abs.

Furthermore, doing planks regularly will greatly benefit your body. Your posture will improve over time.

Other plank variations include side plankdynamic plank, and rotating plank.

What's your favorite plank workout?


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