3 Simple Steps to the Perfect Plank

In a few weeks you'll be holding this standard-but-strenuous pose like a pro.

dog plank pose

Think you can't do a plank? Follow a few basic steps to nail this fitness essential.

Want to be able to hold a plank for a good minute or more? Well, it turns out the best way to get to a stronger plank is by doing two other exercises, says New York City trainer Nick Mastropasqua, CPT. Planks engage a group of core muscles including the glutes, low back and your abs, so you need to get all of them in shape to support this move. Do these three steps every other day. Mastropasqua showed Dr. Oz The Good Life reader Larissa B. how to do each move. Let's get started!

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Step One: Bridges Get Your Glutes Going

How to do it: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Peel your hips off the floor from your tailbone up. Push your hips up as high as you can and hold them there. Squeeze your glutes and pause for a few seconds. Make sure your weight rests on your shoulder blades, not your neck, then pull your navel in toward your spine and lower your tailbone back to the floor, vertebra by vertebra.

How many: Do 10 of these every time you practice your plank.

Step Two: Superman Strengthens Your Lower Back

How to do it: Lie face down with arms and legs extended. Reach out in both directions and lift your arms and legs up toward the ceiling to form a spoon-like shape with your body. Don't worry if you can't lift this high; even an inch is enough. Hold for 2 to 5 seconds and lower back down.

How many: Do 10 of these every time you practice your plank.

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Step Three: Holding a Longer, Perfect Plank

How to do it: Lie face down, elbows under your shoulders, forearms on the floor. Lift your hips and torso, forming one line from head to toes. Note: Keep your body as straight as possible but remember that if you're curvy, you won't look like a 2x4. What's important is keeping your ears, shoulders, hips and ankles in line with each other.

How many: Just two, but hold them as long as you can (which is often just a little longer than you think you can). Now, every time you do a plank, hold it 3 to 5 seconds longer. By the end of the month, you could be holding this for 30 to 60 seconds longer. (But no need to go for the world record: It's currently 5 hours, 15 minutes and 15 seconds.)

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