The dolphin plank is a plank variation that is said to be a core exercise but in an actual sense, it is more of a compound movement as it recruits multiple muscles both in your upper and lower body.
Here’s how to do it:
Required equipment: Mat (optional)
- Get on all fours, with your wrists below your shoulders and your knees below your shoulders.
- Exhale, and then lower your forearms to the floor/mat, making sure they are parallel to each other. In this position, your elbows should be aligned below your shoulders.
- Straighten your legs behind so that your shoulders are above your elbows and your torso is held up parallel to the floor. Your bodyweight should rest on your forearms and the balls of your feet.
- Breathe as you’re holding this position for a few seconds.
- Inhaling, lift the hips into the air toward the ceiling and walk both feet in about two or three steps forward. Your shoulders should not drop toward the floor.
- Keeping your chest open, tuck the shoulder blades into your back and press the heels to try and make them come into contact with the ground. This will help lengthen your hamstrings.
- Your shoulders, elbows and spine should push up and back together in a straight line. There should be a 45-degree angle between your torso and your legs.
- Hold this position for about 30 seconds.
- Don’t hold your breath: Make sure you’re breathing throughout the movement.
- To finish the rep, exhale and kneel back onto the floor. You can go into the Child’s Pose to rest your muscles.
Make sure your abs are engaged throughout to keep your body stable during this movement.
Tip for beginners: If you are unable to bear your body weight on your forearms, hold a chair against a wall then press your hands and forearms onto its seat before straightening your legs into the plank position.
Then, lift up your hips and walk your feet in to perform the rest of the movement per the instructions.
WHAT MUSCLES DOES THE DOLPHIN PLANK WORK?
The dolphin plank touches on pretty much every major muscle group on your body. It stretches your shoulders, feet, calves, and hamstrings, and strengthens your arms, core, and leg muscles.
It also strengthens the muscles located around your spine to give you a better posture.
DOLPHIN PLANK BENEFITS
REGULATES YOUR NERVOUS SYSTEM
The concentrated effort you require to hold your body in a stable position during the dolphin plank calms your mind and regulates your nervous system.
These benefits can help relieve stress and mild depression.
STRETCHES YOUR CALVES AND HAMSTRINGS
When you walk your feet inward and back into the plank position, you stretch the muscles in your lower legs and thighs.
The dolphin plank pose is a weight-bearing exercise that can prevent or slow down the process of bone tissue loss in aging people when combined with exercise and a healthy diet.
ALTERNATIVES TO THE DOLPHIN PLANK
If you are still new to planks or you haven’t done any in a long time, you might want to start with the knee plank.
This modified version of the dolphin plank takes the pressure off your back by allowing you to lift only your torso off the floor.
The good news is, your core will still get the same workout as it would have if you were doing a full dolphin plank.
- Start by lying on your stomach, with your forearms resting on the floor. Your elbows should be directly under your shoulders.
- Press the forearms into the floor as you raise your torso and keep your elbows, knees, and toes pressed to the floor.
- Tighten your core and put your neck in a neutral position. Do not lift your hips or drop them by tucking them in your pelvis.
- Squeeze your glutes as you hold this position for at least 30 seconds.
While it’s not a requirement per se, you can use a yoga mat for this exercise; it’ll provide more comfort to your knees and elbows.
SIDE PLANK ON FOREARM
The side plank on forearm is another excellent alternative that mainly targets your obliques and hip abductors.
- Lie on the floor on your side, with your hips, feet and knees stacked, and your legs almost straight. Make sure your elbow lies under your shoulder and your forearm is flat.
- Lift the other arm into the air. You can leave it at your side if you wish.
- Push your entire hand and your forearm into the floor and then lift your torso. Keep your core tight and your hips lifted to straighten your legs fully.
- Hold this position for about 30 seconds before switching sides.
DOLPHIN PLANK MISTAKES TO AVOID
NOT ENGAGING THE CORE
Keep your core engaged at all times. It’s your core that stabilizes your torso and your spine so that you don’t fall over.
SAGGING YOUR LOWER BACK
When you are getting into the plank position, do not let your lower back sag and your hips to collapse and go below your shoulders.
Your entire body should be in a straight line, right from your shoulders to your feet. This will prevent unnecessary strain on your muscles.
EXTENDING YOUR NECK
Do not lift your chin or crane your neck to look around. Doing this might strain and injure your neck muscles.
Your chin and neck should be in line with your back and arms at all times.
ALLOWING YOUR SHOULDERS TO GO PAST YOUR EARS
Try not to let your shoulders go too far past your ears; this might cause them to rotate and put stress on your rotator cuff.
The only significant downside that comes with the dolphin plank is the fact that it can be particularly hard on your elbows, hips, back, neck and shoulders, especially if you are not using the correct form.
If you are weak in any of these areas, you may need to strengthen them with another exercise first before you do this movement.
Otherwise, this compound exercise will recruit pretty much every major muscle in your body and add to your overall muscular strength.