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23 January 2014

How to do a (proper) plank with Joanne Elphinston

You may or may not have seen/read about my current goal: 30 to 30 Plank Challenge


One Friday night in my Reformer Pilates class I made a decision, I was going to learn how to do a full plank and get off my knees! That Friday was 30 days away from my 30th Brithday, so it seemed like a poetic goal to set myself. 

I started off on my hands and toes (with terrible form) and then started trying on my elbows and toes (with a major case of the wobbles) and then elisted some help from a pro! And the pro in question is none-other than my brilliant cousin, Joanne Elphinston the founder of JEMS.

After our technique training session on Skype, Joanne summed up my progress so eloquently....
A little about my guru cousin firstly, just so you know that this post has some street cred! It is always hard finding a time to catch up with Joanne because everyone wants her time too! When she's not in Sweden or Australia teaching seminars, perfecting the form of Olympians or World Champions, or penning another book, she's in Cardiff doing about another million things at the one time! I mean, seriously busy!! Physio's by trade but Joanne and her Husband Kent have made a life for themselves teaching the world how to move more beautifully. 

And that even includes me!!! I do like that among Joanne's Skype consults lately there's me, and a World Number 3 Ironwoman! That's some nice company I'm keeping there. 

Knowing very little about a plank I always thought there was just two ways, the girly way, and then the hardcore (pun intended) way. But in fact, there are three ways to plank, and so long as you are actually doing it right, each level can be beneficial. 

Level 1: Knees and Elbows

Level 2: Hands and Toes

Level 3: Nirvana. And also known as Elbow and Toes. 

Having shown Joanne my two forms, we decided it was best for me to do the Level 2 plank properly rather than aiming too high and doing it ineffectively.

(Please excuse my very un-athletic body and hefty strong legs, I am certainly not a pro posing for these photos!!).

How to do a proper plank

There are two key things to keep in mind when planking, the first is your neutral spine and the second is pushing through your heels. 

Neutral Spine

Look at the floor instead of straight ahead in order to lengthen the neck and spine.  

meg-made: How to do a proper plank with Joanne Elphinston
meg-made: How to do a proper plank with Joanne Elphinston
When you have your neutral spine and are in a comfortable box position, go onto your feet, one foot at a time for stability. 

meg-made: How to do a proper plank with Joanne Elphinston
meg-made: How to do a proper plank with Joanne Elphinston
Pushing through the heels

And here is THE winning tip, push through your heels!

It was incredible how different this made my plank. I usually place all my weight in the balls of my feet (and looking at loads of photos, so do a LOT of others), so being told to push it out my heels made SUCH a differencel! It completely shifts the weight-bearing and really helps you to use your core  and leg muscles, instead of allow any strain into the lower back. 

meg-made: How to do a proper plank with Joanne Elphinston
meg-made: How to do a proper plank with Joanne Elphinston
I felt far more stable and much stronger in this position and was then able to hold for 50 seconds on my second day! I am over half way to my 90 second goal already!

So there you have it, how to do a (level 2) plank properly! A Plank with a Point!!!!!!

meg-made: How to do a proper plank with Joanne Elphinston
meg-made: How to do a proper plank with Joanne Elphinston
I really think every Pilates instructor should do a course with Joanne and Kent, because as much as I love my instructors, nobody has ever taught me these two simple steps to getting it right, and it makes such a difference! If you do happen to want to learn more, have a read of The Core Workout and Stability, Sport and Performance Movement or sign on to a course and become a guru too!!

Thanks for the encouragement on my Instagram Photos thus far, I'm going to start taking my planks outside, now that I know how to do one!!! And a big thank you to Joanne and Kent for my consult!!

NB: I had to ask permission to plug Joanne, she's way too humble, so all of these opinions are my own and not in any way a sponsored post!  

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  1. Glad you got an expert opinion, I was worried about your back as I could see your form was not good!

    1. Hehe yes looking back it was TERRIBLE!!!! Thanks for your initial advice, much appreciated, so glad I got some help! Have a great weekend! xx


Thanks for your comments, I SO love hearing from you! xx Meg