THE SECRET TO MASTERING THE PILATES PLANK

The Prelude

Begin with your feet on the platform of the Pilates reformer in a kneeling position; place your hands on the carriage between the shoulder posts ahead with your fingers pointing straight ahead. Don’t forget to maintain your elbows apart at shoulder width and have your forearms facing down.

Engage your abdominals and lengthen your spine with your hips upwards – no movement whatsoever in the reformer. Engulfing energy through the top of your head, allow it to slither down through to your tailbone; lean ahead to put weight on your forearms while your shoulders are aligned directly over your elbows.
The Extension

Keeping your abdominals elevated, extend your legs perpendicularly and slowly begin to push the reformer – bind them together and communicate the energy to your heels. Your toes remain curled under so that partial weight is on the balls of your feet.

Remember to breathe deeply – permit your breath to expand into your lower ribs and back in a rhythmic fashion. Inhale 1. Exhale 2, 3, 4.

If you start to tremble, do not fret, establish a strong mind-body connection and you will improve with every try!
A few reminders from our Tempo Pilates team:

Kari McCreath

  • “Without over-tightening, activate your legs, especially hamstrings, and bring them together, emphasizing the centre line. Similarly, activate but do not clench your gluteus muscles – think of pulling your sitting bones together.”
  • “Think of your body like a board.”
  • “Put some space between the base of your skull and your neck.”

Michael Sherlock

  • “Beside the physical challenge of planking, the mental challenge is just as strenuous – if you tell yourself you won’t make your target, you won’t. Take yourself on a journey in your head; think of your dog walking route or take a trip to the shops!
  • “Sing your favourite song in your head and you will find that you take your mind away from saying you can’t go on.”
  • “Set your goal above what you can do. I find that even if my goal is easily achievable, I still start to fatigue just before the end. So, if you set a higher placebo goal you will achieve your actual target.”

Pavlina Haralambous

  • “Elbows directly beneath shoulders and feet hip width apart is vital.”
  • “Spine is lengthened in equal, opposite directions – lift head away from shoulders and the lengthen neck while simultaneously reaching your tailbone in the other direction.”
  • “Don’t round the spine or extend the neck, your lower back is either in neutral or imprinted.”

Gina Papadopoulos

  • “Keep shoulder blades wide and flat on your back.”
  • “Place your eye-line on your thumbs; this will help to keep your neck neutral.”
  • “Maintain your belly button pulled in and pelvic floor muscle engaged.”

Plank Trivia:

The current world record [according to Guinness World Records] for the plank position is 1 hour, 20 minutes and 5.01 seconds, set in Naperville, IL on December 3, 2011 by 54-year-old George Hood. Impressive!

Now, good luck with all your future planking endeavours – if you wish to strut your planking and challenge one of our dedicated trainers, you may join our Tempo Pilates reformer classes in East London (E8) or Central London (WC2) via our booking site.

Happy planking!