How long can you hold plank? Well, now is not the time to set your new personal best.
The plank is a great core and shoulder stability exercise. It is also the start of the push-up, so it is in one’s best interest to have this exercise dialed in. Unlike any version of sit-ups, I feel that the plank is an acceptable exercise to do during pregnancy.
The plank not only strengthens your shoulders, but the entire axial skeleton as well. Think of a Chinese finger puppet- the toy tightens when you move your fingers certain directions. Similar idea in the way you want your core to engage. To me, your core is your entire axial skeleton. From your neck down to your pelvis. With any movement (Overhead squats, lunges, pull-ups, presses), your core had better be activated. Without isolating the rectus abdominus, the plank allows for core activation and engagement.
Most women fear diastasis recti (separation of the rectus abdominus) from happening during or after pregnancy. There is still a lot unknown about what causes the abdominal separation and how to heal it naturally versus surgically. What to do after baby in regards to diastasis recti is a whole other post in itself and definitely depends on the severity of the separation.
The plank is a useful exercise that one can continue during pregnancy and into the postpartum phase with a few points of performance to consider:
- Shoulders stacked on top of elbows and elbows stacked on top of wrists.
- Elbow pits are facing forward; as if you were screwing your hands into the ground.
- Thinking about bringing your belly button within 1-2 inches of your spine.
- Engage the glutes and legs as if they were one unit.
- Avoid the sway back. If your backend starts to sway or drop, then come out of the movement and reset.
- Only spend about 20-30s in plank while pregnant. It is enough to engage and activate, but not stress too much. For example, think about doing five sets of 20s.
- Be sure to elongate and stretch your belly and hip flexors after plank exercises. Warrior I or Crescent Pose are great.
The plank is a great way to warm up, cool down, or just to get the blood moving on an off day. As with any exercise, play smart and listen to your body.
6 x 15s Plank Hold (Hands or Forearms)
6 x 45s Bottom of Squat Hold
100' Odd Object Carry Overhead
- Pick anything to carry overhead. The idea is to keep your core engaged and your arms locked out overhead.
- When you burpee, do it controlled and step back to the plank position. If you don't want to do burpees at all, then do 8 air squats.