The 5 most common mistakes people make when holding a plank—and how to avoid them


Photo: Well+Good Creative

The plank is such a foundational fitness move—not only does it work, like, all of your muscles, but you also have to hold that position for a number of other exercises, like mountain climbers, renegade rows, push-ups… the list goes on. And so if your plank form is off by even a smidge, your entire workout will essentially be sabotaged. And ya don’t want that.

That’s exactly why we have trainer Meg Takacs—the current Well+Good Trainer of the Month—teaching us the right way to do a plank. First of all, it helps to know what not to do, and Takacs says she notices five main mistakes people tend to make when trying to hold a high plank.

The top offender? Straining your neck. This will lead to neck problems—which is the last thing you need considering how common “tech neck” is these days. Then there’s the issue of pushing away from your hands, which means your hands aren’t in their proper position. “I see a lot of people dipping their lower back, or bringing their hips too high,” she says. And some people keep their feet too close together, which lessens the support you’re getting and will make the plank exponentially more difficult. And I think we can all agree that planks don’t need to get any harder.

To do things the right way, Takacs says to start with your hands stacked directly under your shoulders and your neck straight along with the rest of your spine. You should be one even line. So that also means your hips should be straight and not too dipped or raised: “You’re keeping your hips a little bit higher than you feel like you should, so you push your bellybutton up towards your spine,” she says. Your proper foot position is shoulder-width apart—not closer together or splayed out more than that. To make sure you’re also working that bum, Takacs says to flex your feet and push away from the ground. “That’s gonna be your ideal high plank position,” she says. And you’ll definitely feel it after only a few seconds.

Once you master that, try this full on plank workout from Emily Turner. You can also attempt the reverse plank, which takes the move to a whole new level. 

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