If you are looking for a true, total-body exercise that builds strength, endurance, and stability, there is no better move than the walking plank. The move, which involves moving from a high plank on your hands down to a low plank on your elbows, then back again, will give you a cardio boost while torching nearly every muscle in your body—but only if your form is top-notch.
As a trainer at SLT, Pamela Trujillo knows a thing or two about the walking plank—a move that you’re likely to hit at least once in every one of her classes. “It’s a move that we do a lot, because it’s a great way to work your core and your shoulders,” says Trujillo. In order to get the maximum benefit from this dynamic two-in-one movement, you’ll need to make sure you avoid making these four mistakes:
1. Swaying your hips: In a walking plank, your wrists and elbows will be moving a lot, but your hips? Not so much. “Your hips are going to naturally move a little bit with this one, but you’re going to want to keep them as still as possible,” says Trujillo. As you alternate between the high and low planks, pull your hips back and down and squeeze your abs to ensure that your hips are staying neutral.
2. Placing your elbows too wide: As you move up and down from a straight-arm plank to a forearm plank, you want to make sure that you hit both planks with perfect form–just like you would if you were holding one or the other in place. A common mistake is to come down to your forearm plank with your elbows splayed too wide, which puts unnecessary pressure on the shoulders. You want to make sure that you are landing with your elbows directly underneath your shoulders, making an “L” shape with your arms.
3. Hiking your hips too high or too low: With this move, you can’t forget the cardinal rule of planking: keep your hips level with the rest of your body. If your hips are too high, you won’t be able to engage your core. Conversely, if they’re too low, you’ll be placing undue stress on your low-back. Engage your core muscles, and focus on keeping your body in a straight, solid line from the top of your head down to your feet.The best way to know for sure that your hips are in the right spot? Your muscles will start to shake in the best possible way.
4. Not moving with control: Real talk, this move is a tricky one. Your body might be tempted to cut corners by easing up on form–which could result in landing too harshly on your elbows and wrists. While it takes more precision to land softly, moving with control is the best way to ensure that you’re getting the most out of this movement–plus, your body will thank you later. The best way to control your walking plank is to make sure your pelvis is in a neutral position and, as always, squeeze those abs.
Now, the next time a fitness instructor orders you to “walk the plank,” you’ll have your marching orders—literally. Check out the full video above to make sure your moving planks are picture-perfect.
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