Plank Exercise

Video Transcript:

Today we are focusing on how to do a plank, the intermediate version. This is a great exercise to help strengthen and stabilize your entire lower back. It is a great core exercise.

So to start with, I’m on all fours. I go down onto my elbows and then eventually onto my toes. I go onto my elbows simply because doing it on your elbows, take some of the stress off your shoulders, which with some people can be problematic. I want to be at about 90 degrees between my elbows and my shoulders.

My legs come down and then I go up on my toes. I am actively contracting my glutes, so I’m squeezing them and actively contracting my core the entire time. I’m trying to keep everything as straight as possible. I don’t want my to head drop down, which puts strain on my neck. I also don’t want my head going up into extension, I want it as neutral as possible.

I want myself relatively straight, so through from my feet through my legs, through my torso, into my head, I’d like to be as straight as possible to do the plank correctly. Then I’m squeezing my glutes, squeezing my core, squeezing my abs.

After I’ve held this for whatever I am comfortable with, be it 5, 10, 30 or 45 seconds, then I would rest. I would rest on my side, kind of go on my elbow again just to keep everything relatively upright, to take some of the stress off my lower back, and I would rest for 10 or 15 seconds.

Then I would do another set of the intermediate plank. So again, I’m going to go onto my elbows, onto my toes. I’m actively squeezing my glutes, squeezing my core, squeezing my abs, and I’m holding this again for whatever I’m comfortable. From five seconds up to one minute. Once I’m done, I take another break.

The keys for this is to really squeeze your glutes and squeeze your abdominals the entire time. None of this should be painful. If it’s painful, please stop. Let us know. We can suggest a modified plank.

It is better to do less time, to do fewer sets, than to push through, trying to do for a longer time, more sets, and have improper form, which can potentially cause low back pain or injury. One of the great things about planks is that they are very safe exercise, so do what you comfortably can. Work your way up over time.

Any questions about any of this, please ask.

What is the plank exercise?

The plank exercise is a great isometric core exercise that is straightforward to perform, requires no equipment, can safely strengthen the core muscles, and is great for helping with back pain.

Plank Exercise Instructions:

  • Step 1

    Begin on your stomach, facing down at the ground.

  • Step 2

    Raise yourself up onto your elbows, so they are bent to roughly 90 degrees, with your elbows directly under your shoulders. Your hands should be facing ahead of you, in line with your body.

  • Step 3

    Raise your torso up onto your toes, trying to maintain as straight a line as possible from your head and neck, into your torso, through your hips and knees into your feet. Try to keep rigid and straight “as a plank”.

  • Step 4

    Contract your core, maintaining a contraction in your abdominals and core throughout the exercise. You may feel shaky with this, a sign you are using your core muscles.

  • Step 5

    Hold the postion for as long as you are comfortable. Whether 10 or 20 seconds, up to one minute, the key is to maintain proper form. Better to do less time, but to maintain proper form, then to sacrifice your form, possibly hurting your low back.

  • Step 6

    Once done holding, lower yourself gently down onto your side, on your elbow, and rest for 10-15 seconds, as shown in the video.

  • Step 7

    Then repeat. Try to do 2-3 repetitions, holding each time for as long as you are comfortable.

  • Step 8

    Aim for 1-2 times per day.

  • Step 9

    None of this should be painful. If it is painful, please stop, and we can look at a modified plank version.

  • Step 10

    Any questions, please ask.

Read More About Plank Exercise Below

In this video you will learn how to do a plank properly and safely. The plank exercise is one of the best core exercises, and one of the best low back exercises for core stability.

This intermediate plank exercise is appropriate for almost anyone, even if you have mild low back pain, but please follow the plank exercise demonstration video closely.

To do planks, start with your elbows directly under your shoulders, at roughly 90 degrees, to minimize stress on your shoulders and elbows. Generally planks on the elbows, instead of planks on straight arms, will be less likely to cause injury.

Then elevate your body, trying to keep a straight line from your feet or toes into your knees, hips, torso and neck. This requires core activation and contraction throughout, while squeezing your glutes.

Once you’ve held the intermediate plank exercise for 10-60 seconds, or whatever you are comfortable with, lower down onto your side, without collapsing, and rest for 5-15 seconds. Pay attention to proper form and technique.

If you have any questions about the proper form with intermediate planks, please ask. If you have pain at any point during this, please stop, and consider a modification, such as a beginner plank on your knees.

For further low back exercises, low back stretches, and core exercises, refer to our back pain Toronto condition page here:

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