Why Planks are Killing your Back » Next Step Fitness
image taken from Next Step’s Video-based Fitness program

We finally find the motivation to get (back) in shape. We’re going to do 1) Cardio 2) Planks 3) maybe some push ups. Right? I have good news and bad news. It’s not a bad plan, but it’s hard to execute well. You see, the world has TONS of misinformation about Cardio (for great insight on cardio, click here )

For a great plank, read this. (we’ll get to push ups another time)

Doesn’t the picture above just look painful? Well, I’ll tell you it is. That’s me in my online program demonstrating how most of us do a plank, and how it’s hurting our low backs, and NOT developing our abs (like we all so desperately hope).

Here’s the reality, most of us should be doing planks on our forearms and knees, instead of our forearms and toes. We need to progress correctly into this advanced exercise. If we don’t, we hurt ourselves, feel dejected, quit our workouts, spiral into guilt and shame, only to (hopefully) try again after we gained another 10lbs. –you think I’m being dramatic, but after 15 years in this field, I know I’m not–

Here’s the secret

a plank done correctly works our whole body

Try this:

On carpet (or maybe your Next Step Yoga Mat included in the ‘Everything you Need’ Gym Bag)

Kneel as if you’re going into a push up

Then drop down to your forearms

Squeeze your heels and thighs together (guys you may need to adjust something..)

Press your shoulders down towards your hips

Pull your belly button in towards your spine, and then up towards your sternum (if it gets to your sternum, you’ve gone too far)

If this is too easy, lift up on to your toes like the image below!

image taken from Next Step’s Video-based Fitness Program

Now. Can you feel multiple things working? Squeezing your heels/thighs together makes your butt engage. Pressing your shoulders down towards your hips engages your ever-so-important postural muscles. Pulling your belly button in and up towards your sternum engages your abs.

All of these things take pressure off your low back!

Now your low back can play a supporting role, instead of taking the whole load of your torso/hips.

So in one exercise, we’ve toned your glutes (butt!), strengthened and toned your arms (getting rid of the flab!) and worked your core (given you abs).


Not only that, but we’ve prevented your back from getting F’ed up in a major way. And your new strength will ensure your back is healthy and strong for years to come.

Live Life Well,

Trainer Jeff