How Focusing On Your Rib Cage Can Help You Do The Perfect Plank


A couple of weeks ago I talked a bit about the basics of a plank and why that movement is one of the staple movements that you need to get under control if you want to own just about anything else you’re doing in the gym.

But for those of you who just aren’t about clicking links, here’s a brief overview:

Every single thing you do is a plank. No matter if you’re at the top of a deadlift, the top of a squat, a push-up, a pull-up, or just walking. It’s all a plank, or some variation of a plank. Which means if you can get to the point where you’re really owning your plank position, you can start to own the bigger compound movements even more so. Which means more gains. These are all good things.

Now, I’m sure there are going to be a number of people reading this who will have thoughts about the importance of planking for ab development, so that’s what I wanted to talk about today. Specifically how to make a plank more effective for building stronger and sexier abs.

But in order to understand how the abs can be made in a plank we need to take a look at the forgotten aspect of a plank, the rib cage.

The rib cage controls just about everything you do.

In my work as a trainer with some of the biggest performers on Broadway one of the things we always have to check in with is their rib cage positioning. Specifically how flared up and open their rib cage is. And this is especially true in a plank.

The reason being most of us spend our days walking around with a rib cage that is flared up and open. We like to walk with a big proud chest, not realizing that it causes our rib cage to lift upwards, and in turn placing stress on our lower back. All the time lengthening our abs and making it harder for them to contract properly. Which, in case you weren’t aware, when planking that’s what we want. We want maximal contraction.

Without fail, each and every single time we get someone to be aware of their rib cage position in a plank they begin to notice that their abs fire harder than they’ve ever experienced. Gone are the days of being able to plank for minutes at a time.

Here’s how to get that rib cage down:

Stand up straight and and place a hand at the bottom of your rib cage. Now slowly exhale all of your air through pursed lips. All of it. Each and every last little bit of air you have in your lungs. Towards the end you should notice that your abs start to turn on more and that your ribs pull downward just a bit. That downward pulling is exactly what we’re looking for here.

By getting those ribs down you’re able to get those abs in a position in which they contract harder than they typically do in a plank, which means more ab work for you. All thanks to breathing a bit and by altering your rib cage positioning.

And if you think that’s complete horseshit then I invite you to give it a try right now. Jump into a plank position and plank for 2-3 big exhales in which you get those ribs pulled down and see how your abs light up. I’m willing to bet a night at the bars that you’ll feel your abs more than you have in your plank in the past.

[protected-iframe id=”ac0c79bbd596027e8e5e73f28536776c-97886205-61771510″ info=”//” height=”551″ class=”apester-media”]

Get your elbows to your toes.

We’re not done here when it comes to planking and getting your abs to light up. One of my favorite ways to get people to contract their abs in a plank position is to have them plank, nail a good exhale so they can find their rib cage and abs, and then ask them to bring their elbows to their toes.

Now, obviously I don’t want your elbows actually moving towards your toes. But I want you to try and slide them across the floor with as much tension as possible. Almost immediately chances are you’re going to notice that your abs suddenly turn on far more than you’re used to. Especially if you pair this with that big exhale.

Give this all a try during your next workout. It can be done for multiple sets over time to make up your next ab workout, or you can do it as a part of your warm up to get your abdominal wall and core warm before going for your big lifts. Either one works.

I know this shit sounds crazy, but it’s just crazy enough that it does work. I can guarantee you that if you follow the instructions your abs will turn on more than you’ve ever known in a plank. Give it a go, and if it doesn’t work for you, feel free to shoot me an email:

Tanner is a fitness professional and writer based in the metro Atlanta area. His training focus is helping normal people drop absurd amounts of fat, become strong like bull, and get in the best shape of their life.