Beginner's Forearm Plank
Some fitness trends burn hot for a while and then go cold, which is why it’s helpful to focus on foundational, tried-and-true moves that give you credible fitness results. The Forearm Plank is one exercise that will always have a use because it targets many muscle groups at once and it has tons of fun variations.
“[Forearm Plank] is a deceptively simple move because you’re just holding a position and not moving,” says Aaron Leventhal, C.S.C.S., trainer, and owner of Minneapolis-based Fit Studio. “But[a lot is] going on [in your body] when it comes to strengthening your core and engaging other major muscle groups.”
How to Do a Forearm Plank
Many muscles make up your core. Fire all of them at once with these simple steps for tackling a Forearm Plank.
- Assume a push-up position, align your shoulders over your wrists. Drop down to your elbows and rest on your forearms. Parallel your arms and turn your palms down. Extend your legs behind you. Push the back of your thighs toward the ceiling and balance on the balls of your feet.
- Press through your shoulders to dome your upper back. This move will protect your joints. Avoid arching your low back, pull in your belly to engage your core. A strong core will stabilize your back. Squeeze your glutes.
- Keep your legs straight to engage your hamstrings and quads. Push through your heels to further activate your leg muscles. Isometrically pull your elbows toward your toes.
- Take deep breaths to oxygenate your muscles so that they can work hard to hold your body in a static position.
- Alternate between holding and resting for 10-30seconds. Repeat three-to-five times.
What Muscles Does a Forearm Plank Work?
Holding a Forearm Plank longer than a few seconds should have you shaking like a Chihuahua. As you shake, your muscles work to keep your body in position. Here’s what is working:
- Rectus Abdominis (your six-pack)- the ab muscle located at the front of the abdomen. It is responsible for bending your body forward and even side-to-side.
- Obliques- actually two muscles make up this muscle group, the internal and external obliques. Found on the both sides of the rectus abdominis and run from the hips to the ribcage. Your obliques help you twist your torso and assist in anti-extension (overextension).
- Transverse Abdominis (TVA)- layered below the above muscles on the front and sides of your body. Your TVA muscle helps you stabilize the spine and hips by compressing the ribs and internal organs.
- Erector Spinae- is a group of muscles that trace each side of your spine. These muscles extend the spine, laterally flex the spine, and maintain the correct curvature of the spine.
- Quadriceps (quads)- is a larger muscle group that contains four muscles. They form on the left and right side of the femur (thigh) bone. Quadriceps are the extensor muscles of the knee.
- Pectoral Muscles (pecs)- the pecs are on the front of your body on your upper chest. The pecs stabilize your shoulders and upper body to keep you from dropping to the floor.
Forearm Plank Benefits
Forearm Plank is an isometric exercise that can aide your other activities because it focuses on spinal strengthening and stabilization by working your core muscles. Your core muscles tend to contract isometrically, and the Forearm Plank mimics this contraction so that your core muscles work to stabilize your spine in everyday life. Isometric moves strengthen the spine to keep you from hunching over while standing or sitting. Stronger core muscles help protect your spine so that you can do other forms of exercise like kettlebell swings and deadlifts to HIIT and running safely.
“When you regularly practice Forearm Planks, you’re creating a base for other movements,” Leventhal says. “It allows you to have much better form in everything you do, even when you’re not working out.”
You can modify your Forearm Plank with different variations like the forearm side plank, and forearm side plank with a side plank reach, forearm plank with a row, forearm plank with a lift—the list of modifications is long!