Front and side planks are great stregthening poses. They strengthen your entire midsection and side body and most of the upper body. Planks can improve your balance, posture and alignment and can tone your entire body. But what if you don't feel you are planking properly? Of course it takes time to build strength in the upper body and core, but check out the tips below to improve your plank no matter how you do it!
1. Focus on the chest, core, and thighs not the arms. It is common to dump all of your weight into your arms in plank, so think more about supporting your self with your chest muscles and your abs. Lift up out of the shoulder joints. Engage your thigh muscles as well and you will ultimately distribute the pressure more evenly.
2. Try front plank on your knees. If you really feel like a noodle in front plank, drop your knees to the mat. Don't be afraid to modify, that is how you get stronger! Dropping your knees will still allow you to strengthen the parts of the body you need to hold you in a full plank.
3. Use your feet. In your side plank, focus on pressing the side of the bottom foot into the mat, rather than trying to grip the mat with that foot. You can modify by putting your top foot in front of your body to stabilize yourself. Over time, inch that top foot closer to the bottom foot, and one day voila! You can stack your top foot on top of the bottom foot!
4. Bend your elbows. If you have weak wrists, you can bring your planks down to your elbows to help avoid injury. You can still strengthen your upper body and core on your elbows!
5. Push the floor away. This changed my plank forever! An instructor told me to 'push the floor away' in front plank and it made such a difference! Try to think of the floor as a door that you are trying to push open with all your strength. You will end up engaging all of the muscles you need to make your plank more stable.
6. Breathe. It really does help! In any pose focusing on the breath makes the pose easier and brings the body much needed oxygen!
Baby steps, keep going! Thanks for reading and happy planking!