The forearm plank exercise is one of my favorite core poses though admittedly I say that about a lot of poses. When I talk about the core I am usually referring to what I call the holy trinity of muscle that when toned, bring support to the psoas and the spine. These muscles are the inner thighs, the pelvic floor and the abdominals. When these muscles all have good tone so much of the body will be free to function as designed.
I like forearm plank because when we set up low to the ground through the forearms as well as the feet we have the ability to work from a solid base. There is also the option of modifying the pose by starting to develop strength keeping the knees down on the floor to begin.
As with every exercise we do, paying attention to how we align the body and what muscles are actually working is key. It is very easy to do forearm plank and feel your core working but with a little experimentation you might find that it is not doing all that it could.
Muscle balance is essential when we are building strength. Very often with imbalance the stronger (sometimes shorter, sometimes tighter) muscle takes over and does the work for the main muscle. In terms of forearm plank we will look at the relationship between the pectoral muscles of the upper chest and the rhomboid muscles of the upper back. As a general rule most people are tight in the upper chest and loose in the upper back. This happens for a number of reasons that the blog will visit over time.
Here’s what I am getting at: very often in forearm plank we push the upper back towards the ceiling caving in the upper chest. Even though the abdominal muscles will clearly be working here, if you soften the upper back you will feel the abs kick in for real and be asked to work much harder.
By rounding the upper back up and shortening the front of the chest we allow the pectoral muscles to do much of the work to hold us up in this forearm plank exercise. When you start to let the spine soften down in between the shoulder blades a little you will feel what I mean.
Check out the video above to get a sense of what I am talking about and enjoy the exuberance of my two wonderful children while you are at it.
Forearm Plank Exercise
- Lie down on your belly with your elbows under your shoulders and your palms flat to the floor in front of you.
- Lift the hips up off of the floor bringing the ankles, hips, shoulders and ears into one straight line.
- If this is difficult begin by lifting the hips with the knees still on the floor and then try to lift the pelvis up.
- Be aware of the upper back. We have a tendency to round or push up the upper back and use the tightness of our chest muscles to hold us up. Try to broaden the upper chest and let the upper spine soften gently towards the floor.