14 Point Checklist on How To Do a Plank Exercise

14 Point Checklist on How To Do a Plank Exercise

Today, I put up a photo on the Exercises For Injuries Facebook fan page and asked people to highlight what this lady was doing wrong when it came to the plank, and you all had awesome answers when it came to what she was doing wrong in the photo.


What I wanted to do is an in-depth video that talks about the different things to consider when doing the plank. I wrote out my list and it ended up being 14 points that you need to remember when performing the plank.

CLICK HERE to watch the video on YouTube

I will get Orsy to go through it and I will end up chatting about the key points to remember with each thing when it comes to the plank.

#1 – Head is in Good Alignment

We are starting off with the head. I want the head in good alignment with the rest of the body so I can end up having the hands or the eyes looking between the hands. I don’t want Orsy to tilt the head back and look above as that puts a lot of stress in the neck.

1 Head Alignment

#2 – Chin is Tucked

The other thing I am looking at is I don’t want her to reach forward. I don’t want her to reach forward with her head. I want her chin tucked. I want her to keep her ear and shoulder in good alignment because if she ends up reaching forward with the head or dropping the head that puts more stress on that neck.

2 Head Alignment

Also, with the head being in good position and the neck being in good position we are strengthening those neck muscles. This ends up being an excellent exercise for people recovering from a neck injury because you are strengthening the alignment that you want and you are strengthening the stabilizers of the neck.

#3 – Forearms and Wrists In Neutral

The next thing I am looking at is the wrist, elbow and the shoulder area. How I do the plank is you are on the forearms and the hands are on the mat. In this position your wrist ends up being in a good position, good in neutral which is what wrists are happiest being in.

3 Hands

Forearms and Hands are on the mat

#4 – Elbows at 90 Degrees

The next thing I am looking at is the elbows. The wrists are neutral which is what I want. I am having the elbows at 90 degrees, that’s the strongest position that they can be at.

4 Elbow

Elbows at 90 degrees

#5 – Elbow Stacked Under the Shoulder

The next when it comes to elbows, I want the elbows either directly underneath the shoulder or a touch below the shoulder so there is less stress on that shoulder joint.

If I end up having that elbow above, it ends up putting a lot of stress on the shoulder joint.

5 Elbows

#6 – Pulling Down with the Hands and Forearms

And the next thing I get people to do is pull down with their hands and forearms in order to activate their lats and their scapular muscles.

I will get Orsy back into that planking position. We have good head position, good neck position, hands are down, and elbows are at 90 degrees they are just below the shoulder or directly under. She is pulling.

Another way of looking at it is she is spreading the floor with her hands and forearms.

6 plank

Plank Position

#7 – Shoulder Blades Are Set

The other things that I am looking at are I want to see how those shoulder blades are so I want to build tension around those shoulder blades. I will get Orsy to round out a little bit through that mid back.

7 round out mid back

Round out mid back

With Orsy, I can see with her shoulder blades, she wings a little bit so I would probably have to need to work on her scapular muscles in her exercise program.

#8 – Mid Back Curve is Normal

Now looking at the thoracic spine (mid back), I want that mid back curve to be normal, so I don’t want it to arch down or I don’t want it to round out. I want it to be normal for her.

8 Mid Back

#9 – Normal Curve in the Lower Back

The next thing that I am looking at is that low back area (lumbar spine). I don’t want it to be over arched. I don’t want it to be rounded out. I want it to be normal for her.

9 Low Back

#10 – Tighten the Abdominal Area

Then I want all the muscles in the abdominal area to be tight so I want her to brace that core, activate that core, and be tight through that core and abdominal area.

10 Abdominal Area

Tighten the Abdominal Area

We have ended up moving through that whole body. The plank is an excellent assessment exercise because it shows you so much when it comes to that person’s stability, how their joints are working, how their muscles are working, and how the muscles are stabilizing the body against gravity.

#11 – Tighten the Gluteus

I will get Orsy back into that plank position and we have kind of gone at that low back and core area. The next is to look at the glutes.

11 Glutes

Tighten the Glutes

Since I am pulling with those hands, activating the lats, I want to make sure that the glutes are tight because they are protecting the hip and lower back and back area.

#12 – Hips and Thighs are Straight

When it comes to the hips, I want the thigh and hips to be straight. I don’t want the hips, like I don’t want the hips high in the air or I don’t want the hips low.

12 Hips

I want those hips to be in a straight line.

13 Hips Straight Line

Hips in a straight line

#13 – Knees are Straight

When it comes to the knees, I don’t want them hyperextended. I don’t want them bent. I want them to be nice and straight.

14 Knees

#14 – Feet In Line with the Hips

When it comes to the feet I don’t want her feet together. I want to have her feet apart at a point where the foot is in line with that hip joint.

15 foot

Feet are in line with the hip joint

I don’t have the feet together and I don’t have the feet too wide.

There is the odd time to have it wide but when it comes to the regular plank I want the foot to be right underneath that hip. And when I look at the foot, I want that to be at 90 degrees. I don’t want the toes way back here or the toes way out in front and then I am getting the person to hold that position and it could just be for a whole like 1 or 2 seconds and relaxing or getting them up and holding that position for 5 or 10 seconds.

So there you go. That’s kind of all the key things when it comes to my perspective when it comes to the plank. If you are a fitness professional, it is an excellent assessment tool to look at how people are at keeping alignment against gravity.

You are looking at the position of the following:

  1. Neck
  2. Wrist
  3. Elbow
  4. Shoulder
  5. Mid Back or Thoracic Spine
  6. Scapula
  7. Low Back area
  8. Core
  9. Glutes
  10. Hip Joint (flexion and extension)
  11. Hip Abduction and Adduction
  12. Knee
  13. Feet
  14. Ankle

You can see there is a lot to look at and see when it comes to the plank exercise. Next time you end up going through the plank, go through that 14 Point check to see how you are doing the plank or how your clients are doing the plank.

This is Rick Kaselj from ExercisesForInjuries.com. Make sure to swing by ExercisesForInjuries.com there is a good chance that I have a video, interview or a blog post that will help you overcome your injury or pain.

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If you do have pain, here are some resources that I recommend to help you overcome your pain:

  1. Fix My Back Pain
  2. Fix My Shoulder Pain
  3. Fix My Knee Pain
  4. Fix My Elbow Pain
  5. Fix My Wrist Pain

Rick Kaselj, MS

Invincible Core