You use your core in pretty much every day movement. Your core is the base of all your power during exercise. There are ways to work your abs, but one move you’ll see over and over again is the simple and effective plank.

While it looks easy, if you’re doing it with proper form, you’ll feel everything from your abs to your glutes working hard. And no, that shouldn’t feel easy. Planks require a lot of different core muscles. They work your entire core centre, which consists of the front, back, and side muscles of your body.

Planks are a foundation movement. Mastering your traditional plank and working on it weekly, even daily, will help you perform other, more advanced core exercises in no time. You really need a strong core to help you do everyday movements like squatting, lifting, or running.

Stack your shoulders directly over your wrists

How to:

  • When you drop down into a high plank, keep your hands flat on the floor, arms straight, and make sure your shoulders, elbows, and wrists are all in one line perpendicular to the floor.
  • If it’s easier, start in a forearm plank so you can adjust your elbows directly under your armpits.
  • Spread your fingers wide and actively press the ground away.
  • Pressing the floor away also helps engage your back and shoulders.
  • Whether you are in a forearm plank or balancing on straight arms, this action will help you become stronger and prevent slouching shoulders.

Related article: The Truth About Planks – Do They Really Work?

Watch the dip in your lower back

How to:

  • It’s natural to have a slight curve in your lower back during a plank.
  • But be mindful of just how much your lower back is drooping.
  • When you are holding a plank, the easiest way to un-engage the abs is to let your tummy drop, which will pull your lower back toward the floor with it.
  • Tuck your tailbone under and squeeze your buns tight, which forces your abs to turn on.
  • Sinking into your lower back can cause pain in the long run, so be sure to check in with your body as you’re doing planks, and make sure you’re not feeling any strain on the lower back.
  • When you tuck your tailbone under, you should also feel your glutes working.
  • Squeeze your butt and push your weight back into your heels to further activate the back of your legs.

Related article: Rock Solid Abs & Core With These 11 Plank Variations

Avoid letting your upper back sink toward the ground

How to:

  • In the picture on the left, you can see the model’s shoulder blades sticking out higher than the rest of her back.
  • When that happens, you lose engagement in your upper back, and may feel that your weight is dumping into the tops of your shoulders—which probably doesn’t feel great.
  • Check your form to make sure your shoulders aren’t shrugging up like this.
  • Push your shoulders down away from your ears and think long and strong.
  • You can see how on the left, the model’s shoulders look like they are closer to the ground, while on the right they look elevated.