May 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Quite possibly the most important and beneficial exercise that we can do is the plank. This exercise is good for core stability and, if done correctly, will make every other exercise you do better. Planks teach you how to actively engage your core at all times, whether you’re carrying groceries or babies, walking up the stairs, or even sitting correctly. This will help alleviate lower back pain while making daily tasks easier and safer.

Setup & Starting Position:

  1. Brace your core as strong as you can (imagine you’re anticipating the impact of a punch in the stomach) and distribute your weight evenly between your arms and toes.
  2. If you can’t hold this position, you can also do this exercise with your forearms on the floor. Just make sure your elbows don’t move on the floor.

Exercise:

  1. Hold either position for 30 seconds. Brace your core and squeeze your glutes as you hold.
  2. Add time to the position hold or try doing the exercise with your arms fully extended as the exercise gets easier.
Plank position

Plank position

Plank position from forearms

Plank position from forearms

Tip: The entire time you are doing this exercise, your core should be activated as much as possible. If you’ve heard someone in the past say, “Try and pull your belly button into your spine,” do not follow that advice. This makes it almost impossible to make your core as strong as possible.

Erik Bird is a personal trainer at Lifetime Fitness and is ACE-CPT, NASM-CPT-CES-PES, HKC Kettlebell certified. For more information, visit lifetimefitness.com.

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