Pilates Postures

Pilates Plank Challenge - Spring 2016

This spring I thought it would be fun to do a simple challenge with one exercise to complement your weekly or bi-weekly Pilates class and to throw into your home workout. For those who do not workout at home yet here's the perfect opportunity to try to do a little something: the Pilates Plank Challenge!

I've put together a short video for you to explain how to properly do the Pilates plank:

Why the Pilates Plank?

  • The plank position is inherently challenging, executed properly the whole body is engaged in maintaining it.
  • It is the foundation for many advanced Pilates exercises on the mat and the equipment, so improving your plank will help improve and advance your Pilates practice.
  • It doesn't take a lot of time, equipment or special attire to do so you can easily fit it in at some moment in your day.

How do I do a Pilates Plank?

This is a Pilates Plank Challenge so we're going to pay particular attention to:

  • Your Form
  • Improving Body Awareness
  • Your Working Level

Your Form

Correctly maintaining the position works the whole body. If you can do your plank with a mirror nearby to start, that could be helpful!

Your form checklist, is what to pay attention to from head to toe:

  • The top of your head is reaching forward, your heels are reaching back;
  • Your body is long and plank-like, your bottom is not to high, nor is it falling down;
  • Your hands and arms are placed just beneath your shoulders, shoulder width;
  • Your elbows are straight but, not locked or hyper extended, this is extremely important for building arm strength and not stressing your ligaments!
  • Your fingers are spread apart and the whole palm of the hand, 4 fingers and thumb are pressing;
  • The backs of the legs are active and lifting upward energetically.

Improving Body Awareness

Doing the Pilates plank means concentrating on your breath and your abdominal engagement.

  • Inhale into your whole rib cage and exhale to draw your belly in without changing your plank.
  • When you feel the position getting harder continue to focus on your breath.
  • Keep the position dynamic and the whole body will work, start sinking somewhere and the rest of the body will slowly sink.
  • Observe, without judging, which area feels stronger, which area needs to work harder.
  • Feel free to take notes each day after holding your plank to log progress.

Your Working Level

  • To start, find the position you can hold and the duration that is suited for your working level today. The goal is to progress but start where you are comfortable and not where you are struggling.
  • If you have shoulder, elbow or lower back issues that you are worried about you can start with the modified plank on elbows and forearms, see photo. It isn't necessarily easier, it simply protects the areas just mentioned in case of existing injury, strain or weakness.
  • Listening to your body and respecting your working level are essential to improving awareness and progressing healthily in Pilates.

The Schedule

One of the goals of this Pilates Plank Challenge is to increase your body awareness so I encourage you to regulate where you start and how you ramp up, here are my suggestions:

  • Start by timing yourself holding the plank and see how long you can hold it for comfortably, start your Challenge there.
  • Do your plank for 3 days at your established start duration.
  • Rest for 1 day.
  • Ramp up for 5-10 seconds for the next 3 days.
  • Rest for 1 day.
  • Continue in this manner for a total of 30 days.

Doing The Pilates Plank

  • Start on hands and knees with hands just below shoulders and knees just below hips
Position de départ de la planche Pilates

Start Position - unmodified version

  • If doing the modified version on the forearms, start on the forearms not on the hands.
Position de départ de la planche Pilates - Version modifiée

Start Position - modified version

  • Stretch one leg back and stand into the ball of the foot, reposition weight on the hands and the back leg;
  • Stretch the other leg back, readjust weight distribution;
Position correcte de la planche Pilate

Proper Position for the Pilates Plank

  • Run through the Form Check-List above;
Exemple de bassin trop haut

Example of pelvis too high

Exemple de basin trop bas

Example of pelvis too low

  • Focus on your breath and your abdominals for the pre-determined duration, feel free to use a timer;
  • To finish, lower one knee down, then the other, push back into the child's pose and stay for a few breaths.
la position de l'enfant

Child's Pose

  • Take a few notes, then continue your day!

JI encourage you to keep a log with brief notes so you can observe your progress, you can use this log template. Feel free to share your observations and any questions you might have with me

Have a great Challenge, I look forward to reading your feedback!