How to know if you are doing Forearm Plank correctly and what muscles plank pose works
August 9, 2022
Any powerhouse in the land of functional exercise is super exciting, especially when it gets results.
The Forearm Plank (aka Elbow Plank) is a super achiever and trains all your core muscles. From all abdominal muscles (transverse abdominis, rectus abdominis, and external and internal obliques), to and through the shoulders (deltoids), back, arms, legs, and glutes, this intense and regal move is a lifer!
Engaging all these muscles in proper plank position improves our posture, protects our internal organs, and stabilizes our spine. The beauty of planks is they can be done anywhere, anytime, are low risk, and no equipment is necessary. Yahoo on that! No excuses.
How to Do the Forearm Plank
Perform on a yoga mat, exercise mat, or your carpet:
- Take an All-Fours position (Hands & Knees); Wrists align directly under your shoulders; Knees directly below your hips
- Lower your elbows down to replace your hand position; forearms planted, hands apart
- Pull your Abs in deep, stiffen your core and extend one leg at a time straight behind, feet flexed hip-width apart, toes on the mat, legs straight (see image below)
- Hands flat and wide, forearms parallel with each other; shoulders broad (do not clasp hands together)
Focus Points for a Correct Form
Pay attention to the proper Plank Technique, it’s everything:
- Head/neck in alignment with the spine (i.e., no head drop)
- Encourage length in the back of neck; Eyes look slightly in front of hands; Shoulders lowered away from ear lobes (i.e., no shoulder shrug or lifting)
- Draw in the belly tight until the glutes and thighs fully engage (i.e., tension)
- Keep back in neutral alignment with tailbone slightly tucked under
- Keep Abs, Glutes, Quads engaged; Feet flexed and perpendicular to the ground
- Keep hips high enough to NOT sag below chest level (square hips should be about level with upper back) as in the image at Left
Breathe slowly and consistently (inhale through the nose, exhale softly through the mouth if possible). Hold: as long as possible (15 seconds, 30, 60 – but not to “failure,” only to muscle fatigue). Better yet, count breaths instead. Rest and repeat 3-4 times. Planks can be done 3 times per week.
Less Intensity: Spread flexed feet shoulder-width apart (or wider) for more ease. If you are trembling, lower the knees to your mat, rest, and try again. You will eventually build up to a longer hold, then a straight-leg hold.
More Intensity: Pull flexed feet together for more intensity; tuck pelvis; lift one foot off the floor keeping the lifted leg straight and active; pause, and switch to the other leg.
What Muscles do Forearm Planks Work?
When done correctly, forearm planks target the core entirety i.e., the transverse abdominis, the rectus abdominis, and the internal and external obliques. Plus the upper back shoulders, back, arms, legs, and glutes. Remember, our abdominals support our backs.
What are the Benefits of Forearm Plank?
The forearm plank builds a strong and stable core that assists with daily activities. Plank pose builds balance and coordination for better body function, strengthens your low back, and strengthens the entire upper body which delivers better posture. Our feet are also worked, and arches are stretched.
Ok, now have a plankin’ good workout and stand tall!
Gwenn Jones, CPT — Content writer in Wellness-Lifestyle-Fitness, Gwenn is a 25-year ACE-certified personal fitness trainer, yoga studio owner, instructor and fitness consultant. Grateful to be a native Californian where happily home-based.
Amber Sayer, August 2022, The Core Benefits of Planking, https://www.livescience.com/plank-exercise-how-the-popular-exercise-changes-your-body
February 9, 2022, 7 Benefits of Plank Exercises, https://gymnation.com/blogs/7-benefits-of-plank-exercises/