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5 Ways to Fix Your Front Plank

Posted by tdifranc on August 25, 2013

Everyone is doing front planks these days and yet I rarely see them done correctly. When performed and utilized the way they are supposed to be, they can be a very effective Anti-Extension based core exercise. When they are done wrong they can be at best a waste of time and at worst a good way to create back pain!

Screen shot 2013-08-25 at 10.11.05 AM

The term “Anti-Extension” simply refers to the idea that the primary muscles being targeted (anterior core/ab muscles) are engaged in order to prevent spinal extension. Read this post from the TDAE archives to understand why repetitive/forced spinal flexion is ALL-BAD! 

Stop thinking about the front plank as a vessel to set world records and start thinking of it as a way to train your core the right way! A friend of mine and expert on training the core the right way (among other things) Pavel Tsatsouline showed me some of his secrets to performing the world’s greatest front plank a while back. Now I want to share his secrets and some of my own with you.

  1. Chin Position – The cervical spine should be aligned with the rest of the spine. Avoid cranking the neck up into extension or letting it hang in flexion. Simply make a double-chin and you will be aligned!
  2. Chest Position – Press the chest away from the floor and avoid hanging on your shoulders. Not only is this bad for your shoulders but when you press away from the floor you engage muscles around your shoulder blades that are critical for posture/rotator cuff health.
  3. Elbows to Toes – Pavel showed me this and what a HUGE difference this makes! By isometrically pulling your elbows to your toes during a front plank you engage your Lats. The Lats are easy to leave out of discussions regarding what makes up the core but that is a big mistake! Try it…you will feel what I mean immediately.
  4. Glutes – It is critical to get the glutes to be active during any core exercise because in function/sport neither acts alone. The core and glutes need to learn to perform together and by engaging them during a front plank you train the body the way it functions!
  5. Hold & Relax – Stop trying to set records with how long you can hold your planks! The core does not have to hold for 5 minutes straight in a hard isometric contraction in daily life or sport so why train it that way? Long hold planks are also a great way to trade duration for form which creates compensatory mechanisms and stress on the wrong areas. Try doing short & PERFECT holds – 8-15 seconds x 5 with short breaks in between…your core and your low back will be happy!

Here is a video to guide you through the 5 ways to make sure you are doing perfect front planks and you are training the core the right way!

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16 Responses to “5 Ways to Fix Your Front Plank”

  1. […] Before you dive into a New Year’s Resolution to attack those love handles with crazy core training make sure you have the dirt on how to train the core the right way! Do not spend a bunch of time, money or energy on reaching your training goals just to end up hurting yourself…do it the right way. Start with a quick peek at the Secrets to Training the Core the Right Way post I did, and then hit up my post on 5 Ways to Fix Your Front Plank. […]

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