How to do Alphabet Planks Correctly and Safely

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INTRODUCTION

  • The Alphabet Plank is an excellent ab exercise that teaches the principle of core stability.  Proper abdominal training should focus on resisting motionand maintaining a neutral spinal alignment in different positions.  The alphabet plank forces you to resist spinal extension, and thus, we consider it to be a fundamental exercise.

ALPHABET PLANK FORM VIDEO

BENEFITS OF THE ALPHABET PLANK

  • Strengthens the entire core musculature including the rectus abdominis, the lateral obliques, the transverse abdominis and also the gluteus maximus

  • Teaches the core how to prevent spinal extension, which is crucial for spinal health and low back pain prophylaxis.

MUSCLES WORKED DURING THE ALPHABET PLANK

  • Rectus Abdominus

  • Transverse Abdominus

  • Obliques

  • Glutes

PERFORMING THE ALPHABET PLANK WITH GOOD TECHNIQUE

  • Position yourself on a stability ball in a plank position with your elbows resting on the ball and your feet positioned behind you

  • Keep your feet close together, if you feel unstable, feel free to widen your foot position

  • Once in the plank position, ensure that you keep your core muscles braced, and your glute muscles squeezed throughout the entire movement

  • Also ensure that you maintain a neutral spinal alignment, especially at the neck

 

 

  • Begin the exercise by drawing the letters of the alphabet with your elbows through subtle controlled movements

  • Make sure that you keep your core and glutes engaged and do not let your spinal alignment change! This is the most critical part of the exercise

  • Feel free to draw the letters of the alphabet from A to Z or the name of a loved one for a fun variation

  • Take as many sets as necessary to draw the entire alphabet.  Do not be surprised if you can only draw 6-8 letters per set.

  • Over time, your core strength and endurance should improve

COMMON MISTAKES

NOT KEEPING YOUR SPINE NEUTRAL

  • This places excessive strain on the lumbar spine and cervical spine. Keep your core and glutes active and engaged and look down at the bosu ball

EXCESSIVE MOVEMENT OF THE BODY

  • Ensure that you utilize subtle controlled movements of your arms only. The rest of your body should remain fixed

CHALLENGE

  • Aim to complete the entire alphabet in 1 set

ALPHABET PLANK ALTERNATIVES


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Alex Robles, MD, CPT / Brittany Robles, MD, MPH, CPT

Alex Robles, MD, CPT / Brittany Robles, MD, MPH, CPT

Alex & Brittany Robles are physicians, NASM CPTs, health & fitness experts, and founders of The White Coat Trainer: a site dedicated to improving the health and fitness of busy professionals. Their advice has been featured on KevinMD, The Doctor Weighs In, My Fitness Pal, Reader's Digest, Livestrong, and The Active Times. Learn more about them here.

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