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Yoga Poses

Plank Pose

Nurture your love-hate relationship with Plank Pose. A beginner's best friend, it's the perfect precursor to more challenging arm balances.

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Some people hate Plank Pose, and other people adore it. Most of us fall somewhere in between. We know it’s a challenging but accessible shape that’s beneficial for many reasons. It’s hard (you will sweat!) yet also satisfying (you’ll feel stronger!).

Plank works the entire body effectively in one static position. Hold this asana for 30 seconds a few times a day, and you will strengthen your abdominals, hands, wrists, arms, shoulders, back, core, glutes and legs.

You will also work on your mind. If you think you can do it, you can. If you think you can’t, your time won’t be as long. Talk about a workout for your brain! It takes a lot of mental focus and positive self-talk.

Just ask the world record holder for the longest Plank Pose ever completed. An Australian, Daniel Scali, stayed in the position for 9 hours, 30 minutes and 1 second in 2021! That’s hard to imagine when one minute might be fairly challenging. Just keep at it. Anytime spent in Plank will give you strength inside and out.

Plank Pose basics

Pose type: Arm balance

Targets: Core

Why we love it: “This is one of my go to asanas for mental concentration and feeling empowered. I often use it as a transition asana because its alignment brings the body back into balance and it also helps with correct posture, as it strengthens & aligns the spine, core & back muscles. This is my favorite one to practice for developing strength & balance overall in the body. I usually include it in most of my teaching and my own practice, several times during a sequence and hold it for about five to seven breaths to really feel the heat from the whole body being active.” —Miriam Indries, YJ contributor

Become a member today to access Yoga Journal’s comprehensive Pose Library, which blends expert insights from top teachers with video instruction, anatomy know-how, variations, and more for 50+ poses, including Plank Pose. It’s a resource you’ll return to again and again.

Pose benefits

This arm balance strengthens your arms, wrists, core and spine.

Plank Pose: Step-by-step instructions

  1. Begin in Tabletop.
  2. Inhale, and extend the sternum away from the navel, opening across the chest and coming into a Cow tilt.
  3. Maintaining this intention, exhale, and practice just enough Cat tilt to simultaneously tone the lower belly, losing any trace of a backbend in the lower back.
  4. Remember this combination of Cat/Cow tilts, then move your feet back and straighten your legs.
  5. Lift the tops of the thighs to the ceiling while descending the tailbone to the floor in order to create a slight posterior tilt in the pelvis and become compact at your center.
  6. Your lower belly should feel like a tray supporting your lower back.
  7. Maintain tone in the pit of your abdomen while extending your sternum forward and pressing your heels back.
  8. Build up to holding for 1 minute at a time.

Beginner’s tip

When you first try doing this pose, the hips tend to hike upward or sag down. Try to keep them in a straight line between the shoulders and the heels. If that’s impossible, lower your knees and aim for that long line from the knee to the shoulders through the neck and crown of the head.

Variation: Knee-down Plank Pose

Photo: Andrew Clark; Clothing: Calia

Bring your knees down, keeping your torso at an incline. Keep your core engaged and your hips low. Consider using a blanket under your knees.

Preparatory oses

Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog)

Tadasana (Mountain Pose)

Paripurna Navasana (Boat Pose)

Follow-up Poses

Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog)

Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward-Facing Dog)

Balasana (Child’s Pose)

Learn more from our comprehensive Pose Library—which features additional cues, step-by-step video instruction, expert insights, pose variations, anatomy know-how, and more for 50+ poses, including Plank Pose—by becoming a member. You’ll also receive exclusive content including sequences, video classes, a subscription to Yoga Journal magazine, and more.