Want to improve your core? Isometric exercises (i.e. the front plank) are your best bet. The function of the core is to protect the spine by remaining stiff and transferring energy between your limbs; isometric core exercises do just that. There are many muscles to the core other than the muscles visible to you! This is why it is important to do more than just the typical ab crunch. However, proper form while performing these exercises is crucial to getting the most out of them. When performing the plank, your pelvis should be in a neutral position, shoulders aligned right over your elbows, and shoulder blades retracted throughout the movement. Your lower back should not be hurting while performing a plank; if it starts to hurt, slightly tuck your pelvis back by thinking about pulling in your bellybutton.
Do you think your plank game is pretty good? It may be time to step it up! There are many alternatives to the plank to challenge the core more. Once you are able to hold a plank for 90 seconds, it may be time to go up a level. To challenge the core even more than a regular front plank, try the following alternatives:
1. Feet elevated
2. Elbows further away from the body
3. Add weight onto your back
4. Use a stability ball under your feet
5. Bird dog plank
Remember to only progress once you can safely perform the following progression. Happy planking!