Although it may seem simple, nothing beats plank exercises for core strength. As it is very important for dancers to have core strength, this site wouldn’t be complete without some articles relating to the core strength that dancers need.
Here are some great variations of the simple plank exercise that can get your core fit and strong. Firstly let us discuss the correct way in which to do a plank, as it is essential to master the basic plank before moving on to the more advanced variations. The plank exercises can only be effective if the correct form is maintained.
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How To Do Plank Exercises For Core Strength
The correct form for a plank is to maintain a neutral spine. If you don’t know what that is, it is the natural curve of the back when you are standing in the correct posture.
Make sure not to over-arch the back. Shoulder blades should be pulled down your back and you should hold yourself off of your arms and not sink into them. There should be a line from the top of your head to your heel. The head shouldn’t drop forward. The heels can pull downwards to get an extra stretch in the calf muscle. Tummy muscles must be well held in order to protect your lower back.
The picture on the left is the basic plank with the arms stretched. Once you can hold this position for a minute or more, it is time to move into the advanced plank, pictured on the right.
The more advanced plank is exactly the same as the one above, but propped on your forearms, elbows in line with your shoulders, and your toes planted firmly into the floor.
The most common problem seen in planks is a sinking lower back, but the second-most common problem is an arched back with the hips in the air. This is the type of “plank” usually favored by people who say a plank is “too easy.”
Once you have mastered the basic plank you can try to up the difficulty levels a bit. Keeping the same form try to lift alternate legs and then arms.
When you feel solid on three points of contact, cut back to two: one arm and one leg. If you can hold this for 60-90 seconds with good technique, pat yourself on the back and move on to more advanced versions.
Another modification is to push your arms out in front of you slightly during the hold. The change of leverage from having your arms farther away from your center makes this movement much more awkward and difficult. Go slowly with this one.
Work those stabilizer muscles even more by adding some dynamic movement into your plank. You could put your feet or hands on paper plates and move them in and out. You could lift one leg at the back and bring it into your chest and stretch it out behind you a couple of times on each leg. You could take one foot off the floor and pulse into the heel of the other foot a few times.
Make sure that whatever variations that you are doing, you are holding those tummy muscles firmly in place and controlling your every movement.
Another variation of the plank is the side plank. You can do this by placing your weight on one elbow and ensuring that one hip is over the other. Make sure to lift well off your arm and out of your shoulder. This is excellent for working those obliques.
What if my back hurts when I plank?
This is a pretty common complaint, but in most cases it is because your back is to arched due to your abs not being strong enough to support you in a plank yet. Simply lift your hips a few centimeters until you get stronger.
Download a free Plank Exercise App by clicking on the picture to the right.
Plank Exercises With Accessories
Other variations of the plank include doing them on a Bosu Ball. Place your hands quite close together on the Bosu to challenge your core even more as you now need to balance. Now place your feet on the ball and hold that pose.
You could do the same thing using a foam roller. You could even do with your elbows on a Pilates ball – now that is a balance challenge in itself.
Need To Know More About Plank Exercises For Core Strength?
For more great plank exercises for core strength variations, you can try the book below:
A safe, challenging, and effective method of core conditioning, plank exercises for core strength are one of the best ways to get fit and toned. Variations of planks are used across many fitness domains including traditional group exercise, personal training, home workouts, yoga, pilates, barre, CrossFit and more. Not only are planks perfect for crafting six-pack abs, they also target shoulders, pectorals, biceps, triceps, glutes, quads, and hamstrings. They increase the heart rate, offer calorie-busting cardio exercise, and create healthy muscle tone.
Ultimate Plank Fitness features 100 different variations of planks that can be used to customize your workout. Easily increase the difficulty of your core strengthening exercises by adding stability balls, gliders, and weights. Each exercise includes a step-by-step photo demonstration, points of performance, where to engage, along with common faults to detect ways to improve your fitness. Finally, CrossFit coach, personal trainer, and fitness instructor, Jennifer DeCurtins provides you with ten 5-minute workouts incorporating several planks that you can use to target trouble areas and build strength.
With countless variations of the exercise, ranging from traditional planks to side plank variations and planks using external weights or unstable surfaces, your entire workout can be programmed around the plank!
Work your way to a healthy core with Ultimate Plank Fitness.
So even if you are not a dancer, it is important to do plank exercises for core strength. This will ensure that your spine stays healthy and pain free well into your old age.