The ‘Breathing Plank’ Is the Hardest Variation You Haven’t Tried Yet

Photo: Getty Images/Maskot
Whether you're taking an intense online HIIT class or doing an at-home Pilates workout, it's important to focus on your breathing. And now's the time to stop unintentionally holding your breath during planks (we all do it, right?) because using a certain breathing technique makes the exercise even more rewarding.

The breathing plank works to improve your stability and strengthen your core even harder than a traditional plank. "The breathing plank practices breathing from your diaphragm, which I'm sure you’ve heard in yoga before," says Holly Roser, a personal trainer and owner of Holly Roser Fitness. "Belly breathing or abdominal breathing uses your diaphragm and transverse abdominal muscle, which helps strengthen your core in a deeper way than a normal plank."

When you upgrade your planks to breathing planks, Roser says you're better able to relax your body into a more effective position. It also helps you engage your muscles properly. "Breathing deeply during planks allows you to focus on tightening different parts of your body and receiving maximum results," she says. Holding your breath while doing planks, on the other hand, stresses your body and makes your planks less effective.

Focusing on your breath while trying to hold a long plank is going to be hard. But if you're up for the challenge, here's exactly how to do a breathing plank at home.

How to do a breathing plank

  1. Start by getting into a normal plank position on your forearms with straight legs and your feet hip-width apart. Only the balls of your feet should be touching the ground.
  2. As you hold the plank, take a deep breath through your nose, breathing in through your diaphragm—not your chest. As you breathe in, tighten every muscle in your body. Hold for a second.
  3. After holding the air in, exhale through your mouth, pushing out all the air you possibly can. Hold for a second.
  4. Try to complete five sets of these "inhale, hold, exhale, hold" breaths during each plank.

This is the right way to do a traditional plank, according to a trainer:

For more plank challenges, try the "side plank march" that's a trainer's favorite way to fire up the lateral chain. Then do the "plank body scan" that makes sure you're engaging every muscle in your body.

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