High planks can help to improve posture and tight shoulders – here’s how

Welcome to our weekly Move of the Week series. Every Monday, we’ll be sharing with you one of our favourite exercises – how to do them, what muscles they work and why they should be a regular part of your workout regime. This week: high planks. 

There comes a point in most HIIT and strength classes when the trainer will ask everyone to get down into a plank. And while there’s an argument for doing low planks (they’re great for core strength and put less pressure on your wrists), high planks arguable require more full body strength.

Holding a high plank activates the core, shoulders, legs and lower-back muscles. They improve your posture by getting you to retract the shoulders and push from the back, and they force you to relax your neck.

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What is a high plank?

A high plank is the same as a low plank, only with your hands planted on the mat rather than your forearms. 

This exercise is great because it:

Increases core strength: holding a high plank activates the oblique muscles, rectus and transverse abdominis (side, superficial and deep core muscles).

They can improve your posture: by pushing through your hands, you naturally start to activate and depress the shoulder girdle – useful for anyone who spends time hunched at a desk.

They’re versatile: nail a static high plank and loads of variations are available to you, including shoulder tap and walking planks.

What muscles are worked in high plank?

It’s a full-body exercise that works:

  • Rectus abdominals (superficial core)
  • Transverse abdominals (deep core)
  • Obliques (side core)
  • Trapezius (upper back and neck)
  • Rhomboids (mid-upper back)
  • Latissimus dorsi (side back)
  • Pectorals (chest muscles)
  • Biceps and triceps (arms)
  • Deltoids (shoulders
  • Glutes
  • Quads
  • Hamstrings

How to do high plank

  1. Begin in a table top position with your hands under your shoulders and knees under your hips.
  2. Engage the core by pulling your belly button to your spine and kick the feet straight back behind you to come into the plank position.
  3. Ensure your back is flat and your hips aren’t pushing up to the sky or sinking down to the ground.
  4. Push through the hands by pressing your shoulders back, and keep your neck neutral.
  5. Hold the position for 30 seconds. 

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Images: Stylist

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