Why Don’t I Feel Planks In My Core? 7 Things To Consider
Are you one of those people that’s been doing plank holds for some time now and never really understood what all the fuss was about because you don’t seem to feel them like everyone else does? You may have noticed that you don’t seem to feel planks in your core after doing them, and if this is the case don’t worry, you’re not the only one.
Many people have experienced a lack of engagement in their abdominal region during their workout routine. While it can be frustrating, there are many reasons why you might not be feeling planks in your abs, which can normally be rectified with a little tweaking here and there.
In this blog post, we’ll go over some of the reasons why you don’t feel your core during a plank hold, along with ways to improve them so that you can power through the exercise and really feel that core working as it should. Read on to learn more about not feeling your core while planking!
Why Don’t I Feel Planks In My Core?
The first thing to understand is that it’s important to engage your core muscles and not just rely on the strength of your arms when doing a plank. If your hips are sagging, your arm position is too low or you’re leaning in instead of engaging the glutes and holding them for long enough, chances are you won’t feel any core engagement. It’s also possible that other body parts are fatiguing quicker than your core, so consider improving the strength levels in those regions if this is the case. You should also focus on breathing properly to give the core more time under tension, as it’s easy to hold your breath and lose track of core muscle engagement. Another important factor to consider is the type of plank you are doing. Plank variations can target different areas and muscles, so make sure you understand which ones work your core most effectively in order to achieve maximum results. Additionally, it’s important to make sure you’re in the right headspace when exercising – if your mind is somewhere else then it can be difficult to ensure proper form and core engagement.
Let us now look more in-depth at the reasons why you are feeling planks more in your abs and what you can do to get the correct engagement and get the most out of the exercise…
1. Not engaging core
The most common issue is that people are not engaging their core correctly during the plank exercise. You might be able to hold the position, but if you aren’t working your core you will find that you are more than likely feeling the exercise elsewhere.
When doing the classic forearm plank, you want to ensure that you actively press your forearms and toes into the floor, creating a straight line from head to toe. This engages your core and ensures that it is working as much as possible. While doing this you want to then try to pull your elbows towards your toes, this will further engage your core and increase the intensity of the exercise.
It also helps to be able to see how you look in a mirror, not just because you’re an admirer of Patrick Bateman but because using a mirror when holding a plank is crucial in making sure you are actually in the correct position. If I don’t use a mirror, I may feel like I’m in the correct position, but some part of my body is actually wrong. Just be wary of keeping your head up or turning it, as you want to keep the spine as straight as an arrow.
2. Your form
Although the plank is a static hold and you’re not moving, that doesn’t mean form isn’t important. There are a few common mistakes people make which can compromise the quality of this exercise. Remember, the way to do a plank hold correctly is to create a straight line from your head to your toes. If you can see that any part of your body is sagging or bending, then you’re doing it wrong and chances are you won’t be feeling the exercise in your core.
The main reason you aren’t getting as much core engagement as you should is that you are allowing one or a few of the following to happen:
Your hips are dropping – this is a common mistake and can cause you to feel the exercise in your arms, shoulders and lower back more than you should. To fix this, make sure to keep your core tight and actively press into the floor, using your upper body strength to help you maintain the plank and squeeze those glutes to lift your hips and keep your spine straight (this is very important).
Your arms are too low – if your elbows aren’t directly under your shoulders and they’re pointing more towards your feet, then you will effectively be leaning on them instead of engaging your core. Be sure to keep them directly under your shoulders so that your upper arms are horizontal, so there’s a 90º bend in your elbows and then pull them back in towards your feet when you’re in the plank position for maximum core engagement.
Your arching your back – this can put unnecessary strain on your lower back and won’t engage your abs as much as a neutral spine will. This is also common when people round their backs which kind of ends up looking like they are doing the “Sphinx position” in yoga. Make sure you are squeezing your glutes and pulling your belly button towards your spine to create a more neutral position which will help engage the core.
Your legs are too far apart – if your feet are too wide then this can cause you to lose balance, thus making it almost impossible to keep your hips and abs engaged for the entire duration of the plank. To help with this, make sure your legs are together and actively press your toes into the floor to ensure you don’t lose your balance.
Scapula movement – when holding the plank position make sure there’s no movement in your scapula, this means no adduction (retraction) by pulling together or abduction (protraction) by pulling them apart. This will help you to keep your torso as still as possible and ensure that you remain in the correct position.
Important to engage your glutes – the most important aspect of this exercise that most fail to do is engage your glutes. This will help with maintaining the correct alignment of your spine, creating more stability and helping to engage your core more effectively. Be sure to squeeze your glutes and press into the floor throughout the duration of the plank. Making sure you do this alone will improve your plank and core engagement no end and make your posture much better in the process.
3. Not doing them enough
Another common mistake is not holding the plank position long enough to really engage your core and get a good workout. If you’re only doing 10-15 second planks, then you won’t be getting the full benefit of the exercise and likely won’t be feeling it in your core. Try to aim for 30 seconds at least, as this is usually when people start to feel the burn.
Similarly, if you aren’t doing planks that often then your muscles won’t be trained to do the exercise properly. Aim for 2-3 times per week and increase this as you get stronger, aiming for a total of 10-15 minutes per session. This will help your core muscles become strong enough to engage more effectively and make it easier to hold the position for longer periods of time.
If you are still not feeling the exercise in your abs after increasing the amount of time in position, then you might want to think about doing one of the many more advanced variations of the plank to really challenge your core. These variations can help engage different muscle groups, as well as increase the intensity and duration of the exercise so you really feel it in your abs. More on these later.
4. Other body parts fatigue
You might not be feeling your abs when doing planks because other body parts get exhausted faster than your core does. This can be because the other muscles in your body are not as strong, so they fatigue first and then you have no choice but to fall out of the plank. To prevent this from happening, it is important to strengthen all the muscle groups involved in a plank (i.e. back, shoulders and glutes) with exercises such as push-ups, rows and squats. This will make it easier to hold the plank position for longer periods of time and give your core enough time to engage properly.
If planks and fitness are new to you, then you will find there are muscle imbalances that you didn’t even know you had. When doing a full-body static hold such as the plank, these will be exposed very quickly. So be aware of them and look to improve your strength in those weaker areas.
5. Holding breath
One thing many do when braced with moving a heavy object or doing a plank is to hold their breath, which can reduce the effectiveness of any exercise you are doing. When planking, you should be breathing steadily throughout the whole exercise to keep your core engaged, as well as maintain posture and stability in the position. Aim to breathe deep into your abdomen and exhale through your mouth with each breath cycle.
Correct breathing is a critical but overlooked aspect of many exercises and can make a big difference in terms of performance, as well as how much you feel the exercise in your core.
Holding your breath while in a plank position can cause blood pressure to rise and increase levels of panic, as well as decrease the amount of oxygen delivered to your cells. So be sure to always keep breathing throughout any kind of plank.
Having your mind and focus elsewhere can mean that you won’t be able to engage your core properly. This is because when you don’t concentrate on what the body is doing, it’s much easier for the position to slip away from an effective one where the abs are fully engaged.
Try to set yourself a few cues to focus on while doing planks – i.e. keep your body aligned, squeeze your glutes and maintain the tension in your core throughout the whole exercise. This will help to ensure that you are really engaging your abs and getting a full benefit from the plank position. Maintaining focus while doing planks can be difficult because they can be quite boring, so try to break them up with constant reminders that all your body parts are in the correct position to keep your mind engaged, kind of like you would with a meditative “body scan”.
The mind muscle connection is an important aspect of any exercise, so be sure to keep your focus on the plank while doing it. This will help you to really feel its effects in your core.
7. What type of plank are you doing?
Finally, it could be that the plank you are doing is either not challenging enough or not targeting your core correctly. It’s important to know what type of plank you are doing and how much time you should hold it to engage the correct muscle groups. Most of the time people do the forearm plank or elbow plank as it’s known, which involves balancing on your elbows and forearms.
However, there are other variations such as spiderman planks, mountain climbers or reverse planks which can help to target your core more effectively.
For example, the standard front plank is a great starting point when looking to engage your core muscles, but you should also consider variations above to really target those abs. Working on plank holds of different lengths can also mean that you are varying the intensity of the exercise and targeting different muscle groups.
Don’t forget full plank which involves balancing on your hands, not just your forearms. This is a great way to increase the intensity of the exercise and really engage those abs.
So it’s important to mix up the type and length of planks you are doing in order to maximise core engagement. Doing so can help ensure that you feel the plank correctly and get the desired results.
How do I engage my core when planking?
To engage your core while planking, start by maintaining a neutral spine with your back straight and pelvis tucked in. Then focus on contracting your abdominal muscles to help support your body weight, by pulling your belly button towards your spine. Additionally, you can add an extra challenge by slightly rotating or tilting the hips from side to side, which activates more of the deeper core muscles and helps to strengthen your entire core area.
Finally, be sure to keep breathing steadily and evenly while planking to ensure proper oxygen flow to the muscles. With practice, you’ll soon develop strong core engagement and will benefit from a stronger, more stable plank.
What is the hardest core exercise?
Core exercises are generally considered to be any exercise that targets the abdominal, oblique and lower back muscles. Many people believe that planks are one of the hardest core exercises as it requires you to hold your body in a static position for an extended period of time which can increase muscular endurance. Other challenging core exercises include medicine ball slams, burpees, mountain climbers, and reverse crunches. All of these exercises target the core muscles and can help to increase strength and improve overall stability in the trunk area.
Additionally, performing core exercises on an unstable surface such as a balance board or Bosu ball adds an extra layer of difficulty to the exercise.
Why can’t I see my abs but I can feel them?
This is a common question among those trying to build muscle and definition in their abdominal muscles. It could be due to several factors, including the amount of body fat you are carrying, your diet and exercise routine, or even genetics. If you have developed strong abdominal muscles but can’t see them because of excess body fat covering them up, work on reducing your overall body fat percentage by eating a clean, healthy diet and engaging in regular physical activity. This will help you lose fat in the abdomen area and start to show off your sharp abs!
Additionally, different people have different body compositions due to genetics or other factors, so it may take longer for some individuals to develop visible abs than others. Finally, if you are following an effective diet and exercise routine but still can’t seem to see your abs, it could be that you need to switch up your workout plan. Focus on exercises specifically targeting the abdominal muscles (such as crunches, sit-ups, etc.) to build more muscle definition in the midsection.
Why am I strong but don’t have abs?
The answer to this depends on your individual body composition, lifestyle, and diet – all of which play an important role in developing defined abs. Generally speaking, if you’re strong but not seeing the results you want when it comes to achieving defined abs, there are a few things to consider.
First, your diet is key for developing abs and should include plenty of lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats and plenty of fruits and vegetables. Eating too many processed foods, high-sugar snacks or unhealthy fats can prevent you from seeing the results you want in terms of abdominal definition even if your strength workouts are on point. Additionally, you may need to adjust your calorie intake in order to reach a caloric deficit necessary for abs to become visible.
Second, training your abs is essential if you want to develop strong and defined abdominal muscles. The type of movements you do will depend on the goals you have for your abdominals but can include crunches, planks, mountain climbers and Russian twists. Additionally, incorporating compound strength training exercises such as squats or deadlifts will help to strengthen your core muscles which can give you the definition you’re looking for.
Finally, getting sufficient rest is important in order for your body to recover from intense workouts and reach its full potential when it comes to developing stronger, more defined abs. If you’re feeling too tired from your workouts or if you feel like you aren’t progressing towards your goals, try taking a rest day.
Do planks ever get easier?
With practice and consistency, planks can become easier and more comfortable. In the beginning, it will likely be difficult to hold a plank for even a few seconds. As you continue to do more planks and build strength in your core muscles, however, you will begin to feel less discomfort. It is also important to remember that proper form is essential to maximize the benefits of a plank and ensure that you do not become injured. Proper form includes keeping your neck, head, and spine in alignment, as well as engaging all muscles throughout your body.
As you continue to practice with proper form, planks will become easier over time. Additionally, multiple variations of planks can help to add more challenge and intensity. As your strength increases, you can move on to more advanced plank variations such as side planks or single-leg planks. With regular practice and a focus on proper form, planks will not only become easier but also offer a vast array of health benefits.
When it comes to feeling planks in your core, there are a number of factors to consider. Firstly, ensure that you are engaging the correct muscles and breathing properly throughout. Secondly, focus on maintaining good posture and technique, as well as mixing up the type of plank you do. Finally, make sure you are keeping your mind engaged and focused on the exercise.
By following these simple tips, you can make sure that your planks are as effective as possible and help ensure that you feel them in your core.
Do you have problems feeling your core when doing planks and have these tips helped? Let us know in the comments below.