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Why Plank Is Not The Ultimate Core Strength Exercise

trunk + spine Jan 16, 2019

I can’t keep count of how often people mention “Plank” when talking about building core strength. It’s the first exercise that comes to mind. Yes, Plank, or Front Control, as we Pilates snobs professionals like to call it, is a decent exercise with lots of benefits, but it’s not the ultimate core strength exercise. Let’s explore that.

Since you are supporting yourself on your arms, the strength of your arms and shoulders has a lot to do with how successful you are at a Plank. If your arms, pecs or shoulders are fairly strong, then you have a much easier time with Plank, and you might wonder what you’re doing wrong that you don’t feel your core.

You are also supporting yourself on your feet. If your thighs and ankles are strong, then you’ll use those more than your core.

If the opposite is true, that your arms and legs are on the weak side, then your core can’t get a good grip because it’s not being suspended by strong extremities.

What’s great about Plank is that it strengthens arms, shoulders, core, and legs. But only the front side of those areas. To strengthen the back side, do an Upward Plank (Back Control). If you try it you’ll most likely discover that it’s much harder than a Front Control. Because most of us are even weaker on our backsides than our fronts. Yikes.

Finally, why we perceive Plank to be such a good (hear: hard) exercise is because it works on a bunch of things at the same time. It challenges three large areas of the body simultaneously, which just makes it feel harder. But it’s not the best core exercise. That award goes to Chest Lift, any exercise of the Stomach Series, the Hundred, Dead Bugs, Short Box, and a bunch more.

Which is your favorite core strength exercise?


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