Coaching

How—and Why—to Do a Forearm Plank

By Kirsty Godso

By Kirsty Godso

Ace your form and see your results improve with these tips.

There's something magic to mastering the plank. This simple exercise activates muscles from your shoulders right through to your calves, and in this article Nike Master Trainer Kirsty Godso is going to step you through just how and why to ace your form. Follow her tips to really start seeing results.

It may feel like time moves slower when you're holding a plank. That could be because a plank is an isometric exercise, so instead of moving dynamically through reps, you just hold the same static position for a certain length of time. To make every second more stimulating and effective, you need to activate muscles from your shoulders to your calves. To do that, you need this guidance from Nike Master Trainer Kirsty Godso.

Muscles You'll Work

Planks target your core, including your transverse abdominis (deepest abdominal muscle), rectus abdominis (your "six-pack" muscles) and external obliques (the muscles that run along the sides of your rectus abdominis from your hips to your ribcage). Your shoulders (all your deltoids), chest (pecs and serratus anterior, the top sides of your ribs) and back (lats, traps, rhomboids and the tiny muscles along your spine, called erector spinae) carry the bulk of your weight. Forearm planks work your transverse abdominis more than a plank on your palms does. They also make it easier to maintain proper shoulder alignment and take the strain off your wrists. For any variation, squeeze your glutes, quads, hamstrings and calves to activate those supporting muscles and keep your body in one long line.

Ace your form and see your results improve with these tips.

There's something magic to mastering the plank. This simple exercise activates muscles from your shoulders right through to your calves, and in this article Nike Master Trainer Kirsty Godso is going to step you through just how and why to ace your form. Follow her tips to really start seeing results.

It may feel like time moves slower when you're holding a plank. That could be because a plank is an isometric exercise, so instead of moving dynamically through reps, you just hold the same static position for a certain length of time. To make every second more stimulating and effective, you need to activate muscles from your shoulders to your calves. To do that, you need this guidance from Nike Master Trainer Kirsty Godso.

Muscles You'll Work

Planks target your core, including your transverse abdominis (deepest abdominal muscle), rectus abdominis (your "six-pack" muscles) and external obliques (the muscles that run along the sides of your rectus abdominis from your hips to your ribcage). Your shoulders (all your deltoids), chest (pecs and serratus anterior, the top sides of your ribs) and back (lats, traps, rhomboids and the tiny muscles along your spine, called erector spinae) carry the bulk of your weight. Forearm planks work your transverse abdominis more than a plank on your palms does. They also make it easier to maintain proper shoulder alignment and take the strain off your wrists. For any variation, squeeze your glutes, quads, hamstrings and calves to activate those supporting muscles and keep your body in one long line.

Improve Your Forearm Plank Form to See Results

Why You Should Be Doing a Forearm Plank

  1. They're among the safest exercises to bullet-proof your abs and back, as they put less weight on your wrists than standard planks do.
  2. Developing your upper body and core can help correct your alignment to counteract any rounding and compressing your body does while sitting at a desk from 9 to 5, so you'll feel and move better throughout the day.
  3. Holding the position can help you perform dynamically. For example, a stronger transverse abdominis protects your spine when you're lifting, while a solid rectus abdominis keeps your trunk stable for heavier loads, higher jumps and more economical running.

When to Do It

Performing forearm planks before any routine can properly activate your core and prime your body for a safer, more efficient workout. You can also wrap up a workout with a few sets of the move, challenging yourself to hold each one for a little longer than the last. Forearm planks can also serve as active rest in a HIIT circuit or comprise the abs portion of a strength routine. To start, focus on form over duration, holding your plank until you can no longer maintain proper form. That might be 20 seconds or 60. Either way, do 3 sets, resting or lying on your back for an alternative exercise, like a glute bridge, in between.

How to Do a Forearm Plank

01. Kneel, then bend your arms and lower your forearms to the floor with your elbows directly underneath your shoulders and your hands in fists or your palms flat.

02. Step your feet back one at a time to straighten your legs, to start. The wider your feet are, the more stable your base will be.

Improve Your Forearm Plank Form to See Results

Why You Should Be Doing a Forearm Plank

  1. They're among the safest exercises to bullet-proof your abs and back, as they put less weight on your wrists than standard planks do.
  2. Developing your upper body and core can help correct your alignment to counteract any rounding and compressing your body does while sitting at a desk from 9 to 5, so you'll feel and move better throughout the day.
  3. Holding the position can help you perform dynamically. For example, a stronger transverse abdominis protects your spine when you're lifting, while a solid rectus abdominis keeps your trunk stable for heavier loads, higher jumps and more economical running.

When to Do It

Performing forearm planks before any routine can properly activate your core and prime your body for a safer, more efficient workout. You can also wrap up a workout with a few sets of the move, challenging yourself to hold each one for a little longer than the last. Forearm planks can also serve as active rest in a HIIT circuit or comprise the abs portion of a strength routine. To start, focus on form over duration, holding your plank until you can no longer maintain proper form. That might be 20 seconds or 60. Either way, do 3 sets, resting or lying on your back for an alternative exercise, like a glute bridge, in between.

How to Do a Forearm Plank

01. Kneel, then bend your arms and lower your forearms to the floor with your elbows directly underneath your shoulders and your hands in fists or your palms flat.

02. Step your feet back one at a time to straighten your legs, to start. The wider your feet are, the more stable your base will be.

Improve Your Forearm Plank Form to See Results

03. Squeeze your abs and glutes to pull your hips in line with your shoulders, and gaze at your hands to keep your neck in a neutral position. Your body should form a straight line from head to heels.

04. To create tension throughout your body, which can help you stay in the position longer, pull your shoulders back and down and flex your quads and feet. Imagine you're pulling your elbows towards your toes, pulling your toes towards your elbows and squeezing a ball between your thighs.

05. Breathe deeply and hold this position for as long as you can without letting your hips hike or sag.

Make It Easier

Don't feel like you need to hit a time target. If you can hold a plank for only 12 seconds before your form starts to go to hell, then come out of it at 12 seconds. Just focus on nailing your form and the seconds will add up.

Make It Harder

Simply hold the plank for a longer duration—but again, only for as long as your form stays solid. Whether that's 90 seconds or 3 minutes, you'll reap the benefits. You could also make your plank dynamic by lifting alternating legs or arms off the floor to create instability, or by rocking between the balls and tips of your feet (called a body saw). Both of these variations place more demand on your core for balance.

Train With Us

Tap into the ultimate training resource with the Nike Training Club App. From expertly designed workouts to holistic tips on nutrition, mindset, recovery and sleep, NTC has everything you need to perform your best.

Improve Your Forearm Plank Form to See Results

03. Squeeze your abs and glutes to pull your hips in line with your shoulders, and gaze at your hands to keep your neck in a neutral position. Your body should form a straight line from head to heels.

04. To create tension throughout your body, which can help you stay in the position longer, pull your shoulders back and down and flex your quads and feet. Imagine you're pulling your elbows towards your toes, pulling your toes towards your elbows and squeezing a ball between your thighs.

05. Breathe deeply and hold this position for as long as you can without letting your hips hike or sag.

Make It Easier

Don't feel like you need to hit a time target. If you can hold a plank for only 12 seconds before your form starts to go to hell, then come out of it at 12 seconds. Just focus on nailing your form and the seconds will add up.

Make It Harder

Simply hold the plank for a longer duration—but again, only for as long as your form stays solid. Whether that's 90 seconds or 3 minutes, you'll reap the benefits. You could also make your plank dynamic by lifting alternating legs or arms off the floor to create instability, or by rocking between the balls and tips of your feet (called a body saw). Both of these variations place more demand on your core for balance.

Train With Us

Tap into the ultimate training resource with the Nike Training Club App. From expertly designed workouts to holistic tips on nutrition, mindset, recovery and sleep, NTC has everything you need to perform your best.

Improve Your Forearm Plank Form to See Results

Join Nike Training Club

Get access to our world-class experts and trainers for help staying active and healthy.

Improve Your Forearm Plank Form to See Results

Join Nike Training Club

Get access to our world-class experts and trainers for help staying active and healthy.

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