While most plank variations are best known for strengthening and toning the core, only a few like the pike plank have the extra advantage of working other muscles in your body.
This challenging plank variation works your core while also recruiting a few upper and lower body muscles in the process, which makes it a full-body workout.
You’re probably dying to know more of these benefits before you try it; and you will, later in this article.
But first, here’s how to do it properly:
- Get into the basic plank position; feet hip-width apart, hands stacked below your shoulders and head in a neutral position.
- Focus on getting your body in a straight line from your head to your heels. Make sure your hips don’t drop and your lower back does not over-arch.
- Draw in your navel towards your spine and tighten your core to keep your body stable in the plank position.
- With the core engaged, push your hips up and back into an inverted “V” position, kind of like the yoga move “downward dog.” Note that your heels do not have to be flat on the ground when you get into this position.
- While in the inverted “V” position (also known as the pike position), make sure your head is in line with your arms and your gaze is looking through your legs.
- Pause for a moment when you get to full range, before lowering back to the plank position.
WHAT MUSCLES DOES THE PIKE PLANK WORK?
When you first get into the plank position, you use your triceps, chest, back and shoulders to keep your upper body solid and stationary, and your core and glutes for stability.
Later when you get into the pike position, you will stretch out your glutes, hip flexors and hamstrings by straightening your thighs.
Your calves are recruited too if you choose to stand on the balls of your feet as you lift the hips up towards the ceiling.
BENEFITS OF THE PIKE PLANK
STRENGTHENS YOUR CORE
This exercise is a plank variation, which means its primary function is to work your entire core.
It is, of course, likely to be more effective if you keep your core tight the entire time, which also helps with keeping your body stable.
If you occasionally experience back pain from sitting for long hours in the office, here’s some news you’d be pleased to hear; the pike plank can improve your posture!
By strengthening your chest, back, core and shoulders, this exercise makes it easy to keep your lower back in a neutral position while you are standing or sitting.
It also helps you develop isometric strength in the core muscles, which enables you to prevent yourself from hunching while sitting or standing for long hours.
INCREASES YOUR FLEXIBILITY
The pike plank is a great way to stretch out the muscles in your lower body, most of which are responsible for your overall flexibility.
Getting into the pike position lengthens your hamstrings and the arches of your feet, which makes this movement both a stretch and strength exercise.
IS A COMPOUND EXERCISE
The pike plank works a lot more muscles than just your core. It recruits your chest, triceps, shoulders, back, hamstrings, glutes and even the calves on your lower leg.
ALTERNATIVES TO THE PIKE PLANK
PIKE ON THE EXERCISE BALL
This is a Pilates mat exercise that helps you target your core effectively while also strengthening your chest, shoulders arms.
While it may seem like a fun and simple exercise, it actually requires a lot of core control, pelvic stability and shoulder stability to keep your body in the correct position.
Here is how to do it:
- Start by getting into the plank position on the exercise ball. The ball should be resting under your thighs.
- Extend your legs behind you and rotate your shoulders back and down.
- Before you begin, try to find a place of stability and comfort so that you don’t slide off the ball during the exercise.
- Make sure your abs are lifted a few inches off the floor and your entire body is in a straight line.
- Use your hands to walk yourself forward so that the ball is on top of your shins or on your knees. Take a moment to experiment during the first rep to find the most appropriate distance to get into the pike position.
- Exhale and in one swift motion, push your hips towards the ceiling into a pike position where your legs are straight, hips are bent and your arms extended to the ground.
- At this point, the exercise ball will roll under your legs to get closer to your ankles. Your chest should be wide and your shoulders pulled down so that there is a great distance between your ears and shoulders.
- Press your shins against the ball to help keep you stable.
- Breathe in and use your core to get yourself back into the plank position.
- Repeat as many times as you desire.
PIKE PLANK MISTAKES TO AVOID
ROUNDING YOUR BACK
Take care not to over-arch your back during this movement, as this could ruin your alignment hence preventing your target muscles from getting fully engaged.
NOT TIGHTENING YOUR GLUTES AND ABS
Your glutes and core are the main stabilizers during this exercise and for this reason you should keep them tight right from the start at the plank position to the pike position.
Unless you have reason to believe the pike plank could be inappropriate for you, there’s no harm in trying it out.
This multi-joint plank variation offers plenty of benefits, including improving your posture, strengthening your core and enhancing your overall flexibility.
If you are looking for a basic plank alternative that will be just as effective, you may want to consider the pike plank.
Follow the steps in here to help you master the correct form so that you can get the best results out of this exercise.