Fitness Tips

If You’re a Beginner, Here’s the Unintimidating Way To Work Up To Holding a Plank

Kells McPhillips

Photo: Getty/Westend61
There’s an artistry to many things in life. (Applying glitter makeup, slicing an avocado, curating a fire Netflix queue…) But few things require more diligence and care than the inimitable plank: a workout move known for challenging every last muscle in your core.

If you’re brand-new to planking, the first thing you need to know is this: It’s a full-body workout. Planks work your shoulders, upper back, arms, glutes, and hamstrings—and also help you build functional movement patterns over time. Meaning: Simple, everyday tasks like walking, carrying groceries, and sprinting down the subway stairs to catch your train will start to feel easier.

When you first attempt a plank, holding it for even 10 seconds may feel like a feat of strength and will. But the great thing about the move—and its many, many iterations—is that, over time, it will get easier.

Below, trainer Meg Takacs explains how to do plank the right way (and the common mistakes to look out for).

Plank for beginners: Here's how to do the all-in-one move the right way

1. Come to all fours and stack your shoulders directly above your wrists. Make sure your feet are shoulder-width apart.

2. Look directly at the ground in front of you so your neck stays in line with your spine.

3. Tuck your toes and lift your knees and hips, forming a plank shape with your body. Make sure your hips don’t drift too high or too low. Balance your weight between your upper and lower body.

4. Pull your belly button toward your spine. Push away from the ground to engage your glutes.

5. Voilà: You’ve found the ideal plank position.

Start by holding your plank for five seconds. Then progress to 10. As you work up you'll double the length of your hold, progressively getting stronger along the way. In no time, you'll be like Jen Aniston, staying in the move for a solid 10 minutes—or whatever your goal happens to be.

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