Are you the type of person who feels like they need to win a medal when working out? Do you participate in 5, 10, or even 15-minute plank challenges?

Planks are a great exercise! They require darn near every muscle in the body to work however the primary intent for the plank is “core strengthening.” Our core muscles are the muscles that directly influence the spine. Muscles such as the transversus abdominus, multifidii, and pelvic floor muscles.

After only 30 seconds of a plank, those small, deep muscles that we are intending on challenging fatigue (they have to work very hard in a plank position to offset the effects of gravity due to positioning). At that time, large movers kick on to do most of the work. You’ve probably noticed that you’re low back starts to hurt after a period of time being in a plank position. Or you notice it starts to get tight. Or those strappy muscles that go up and down the side of your spine feel like they’re really working. THAT’S NOT THEIR JOB!

Nothing we do in life or sport requires more than a 30 second isometric (form of muscle contraction where the muscle is producing torque but not changing in length) hold. Unless you’re one of those Statue people you see in places like NYC…then you have my permission to do 62,842-minute planks!

So the lesson… do 30-second bouts of planks, with a brief break (even just a few seconds), and repeat as many times as you can without losing form.

T picture above is what we look for and teach for plank form: ears, tips of shoulders, and pointy bone of hip all in line with one another; abdominals are drawn up and in; shoulder blades pulled down and away from the ears; tail tucked enough to keep low back in a neutral position, reach through the heels. And BREATHE!!