The Plank

Starting Position
  • Starting position of the plank requires you to lie on your stomach propping yourself up with your elbows under your shoulders.
  • Forearms lie in front of you, comfortably, with hands relaxed or placed in a fist.
  • Lift your legs and hips off the floor such that you are straight from your heels to your shoulders.
  • Make sure your elbows remain under your shoulders.
  • Don't look up, keep your chin tucked in, and don't allow your back to arch up to the ceiling
  • Concentrate on engaging your abdominal muscles and breathing normally.
  • Hold this position.
Prime Movers
  • Anterior trunk muscles are emphasized.
Physio Tips
  • I will use this exercise clinically to help assess core endurance. This can be measured and used to monitor progress in an exercise program.
  • This exercise has a greater risk of increasing back pain.
  • Don't push beyond the point where you can maintain perfect form. To do so does not benefit you.
  • If you experience any pain while doing these exercises, stop the exercise and consult with a physical therapist.
  • Make sure your arm is vertical and positioned directly under your shoulder so as to avoid shoulder strain.
Progression The plank is a well known exercise used in the training programs of many different sports. Any land sport requires the efficient transfer of energy from the ground through the trunk. All functional movement also requires this stability so we can all benefit from this exercise.
From my observations in the clinic, I find few people unfamiliar with core exercises can hold this position for more than just a few seconds. A big problem people have is either letting their back sag, or they flatten their back too much. Make sure you are familiar with your neutral position.  If you try this and you find you can only hold it for a few seconds before you start to sag at the hips or shake, try it on your knees:

Plank on the Knees

  1. Lie face down with your elbows under your shoulders, feet together.
  2. Lift yourself up so that you rest on your forearms, and on your knees.
  3. You should form a straight line from your knees to your head.
  4. Concentrate on breathing normally, and keeping your abdominals tight.
  5. Hold this until you can no longer keep that straight line from knees to hips.
  6. Rest for 1-2 minutes, and try again. Repeat this daily.
  7. When you can hold this position for 30 seconds you are ready to move onto the plank on your toes as above.


    1ballsHold this position for 10 seconds and repeat 3 times.

    2ballsHold this position for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times.

    3ballsHold this position for 90 seconds.