Work your shoulders, arms, legs and core all in one with this downward dog to plank exercise!
As long as you can do a downward dog and a full plank* this exercise is an excellent, advanced, time-saving option for your core workout. It is also an exercise appropriate for pregnancy. Just be certain, if you are pregnant, that you are careful about not pushing your joints too far. As Addie was pregnant when we filmed this, most of our tips in the video are aimed at pregnant ladies.
How to get the most out of this exercise (pregnant and non-pregnant readers alike):
- If going into a full plank, instead of the modified one with your hips slightly high, be certain that your hips do not drop below a straight diagonal line created between your shoulders and heels.
- Make sure that, when you are in your plank, your wrists are right under your shoulders.
- Under no circumstances should you feel this exercise, or any plank, in your back. Pull your abs back toward your spine and lengthen your low back, tailbone reaching toward your heels. Continued use of plank with noticeable back engagement strengthens, tightens and stresses your back muscles and does not strengthen the abs. If you try to problem solve this without success, stop and try again after giving your abs a break. Recurring back pain every time you do this exercise (or any kind of plank), would ideally prompt you to stop and seek the advice of a professional to check to your form and make sure your have a strong foundation of ab strength first.
- Wrist discomfort is common but mostly avoidable. Spread your fingers and push into the “ball” of your hand instead of the “heel” of your hand. To put it another way, imagine that the part of your hand closest to your fingers is pushing into the floor and away from you and relax the part of your hand that is closest to your wrists.
*If you have a shoulder injury, make sure that these movements are appropriate for you before you begin.
These downward dog to plank exercise variations challenge your abs dynamically in the sagittal plane (front and back). For a dynamic ab exercise that will challenge your core in the frontal plan (side to side), check out our standing side bend oblique exercise using a dumbbell.
Experiencing common problems with plank like low back pain or wrist discomfort? Schedule your free 90 minute consultation.
This blog was contributed by our Pilates guru, Kaethe Birkner. Kaethe is a certified Pilates instructor through Balanced Body and dances ballet professionally at Continental Ballet Company. She has been teaching Pilates since 2012 and has been taking Pilates since 2004.
Blog updated May 28, 2022.