Arm circle planks are a great way of keeping your arms and abdominal muscles toned. If you have been doing planks for a while and need an extra challenge, you may enjoy arm circle planks. To complete arm circle planks, you will need to be relatively comfortable with your plank. Once you have it down, you should watch out for common mistakes such as letting your buttocks fall to the ground or tilting to one side of your body.
EditGetting Into a Plank
- Roll out your yoga mat and get into position. Find a comfortable spot at the gym or at home to perform the arm circle plank exercise. Once you have rolled out your yoga mat, you can go ahead and kneel down at the back of your mat. If you like, you can do a few shoulder rolls to prepare for the arm circle planks, since the exercise can be quite hard on your shoulders.
- To do shoulder rolls, pull your shoulders towards your ears on your inhalation. When you exhale, let your shoulders drop towards the ground. Repeat this movement six times.
- Place your hands on the ground in front of you. Your hands should be directly underneath you and just a little wider than your shoulders. Imagine you are about to do a push up, since the starting position for a plank is the same. Like the name implies, the plank involves holding your body as straight as a plank.
- If you have sensitive hands or don’t feel ready for a full plank, you can start the plank pose with your forearms on the ground instead of just your hands.
- Put your legs out straight behind you. Your toes should be firmly planted on the floor, with your legs extending straight back. Avoid pointing your buttocks to the ceiling or letting them fall to the floor. You want to have your legs pointing straight behind you and your entire torso straight as a plank. You don’t want to push your weight back onto your heels, since this will reduce the workout for your abdominal muscles. Squeeze your abdominal muscles and glutes in order to benefit from the exercise and avoid injury.
- Imagine you are as straight as a tall tree. You should feel very straight and firm in this pose. It should be challenging but also rewarding.
- Make sure you are straight as a plank. Check that your head is in line with your back, rather than falling to the floor. To ensure your head is in the right position, let your gaze fall to the floor about a foot down from your hands while maintaining a straight but relaxed neck. Continue holding the pose for as long as you are able. If you feel quite comfortable with your plank, you can go ahead and move on to the arm circles.
- If you find your head falling to the floor, it may be a sign that you are already tired from the exercise and not yet ready for the arm circles part of the exercise.
EditDoing the Arm Circles
- Choose a weight. You can do arm circles with or without a weight. If you are doing this exercise for the first time, it is best to just use your body weight. If you have been doing the exercise for a while and it is getting easy, you could hold a water bottle while doing the arm circles or use a small amount of weight.
- If you are just starting with weights, you could start with a two-pound weight.
- Do the arm circles with your left hand. With your body weight on the right hand and your core muscles engaged, make a circle with your left hand. Imagine you are doing a windmill pitch in a baseball game, since it is a similar motion. Start by pointing your fingers towards the front of the room. Then, gradually move your arm towards the ceiling. Then, move your arm behind you towards the back of the room, and then back into the starting position. The motion should be continuous, so don’t stop at any point in the arm circle.
- Shift your weight onto your left hand. Spread the fingers on your left hand so that they can support your body weight. Gently, shift your body weight over onto your left hand so that you are prepared to do the arm circles with your right hand.
- Do arm circles with your right hand. With your left hand and your core muscles supporting you, make a circle with your right hand. Point your right fingers towards the front of the room. Then, gradually move your right hand in a big circle until it comes back to the starting position. Once you have done an arm circle with both your right and left arm, you will have completed one repetition of arm circle planks.
- Continue to engage your abdominal muscles. To avoid too much pressure on your hands, you should engage your abdominal muscles.
- Repeat five to eight repetitions of arm circle planks. While you are doing the arm circles, you want to maintain good plank form. Maintain good form by keeping your core muscles fully engaged and your head aligned with your back. You also want to make sure you are not pointing your buttocks towards the ceiling or letting them fall to the ground while performing the arm circles. If you find yourself losing your plank form, you should take a rest and try again another time.
- Avoid letting your buttocks point to the ceiling or fall to the floor.
- Do a variation of arm circle planks. Instead of moving your arms in a big circle, you could make small circles in front of you. Starting from plank position, point your fingers in front of you and make five or six tiny circles. Then, return your hand to resting position. Complete the movement on both sides. Repeat five or six times.
EditFixing Common Mistakes
- Fix an arched back. If you find your arms are getting sore while completing the exercise, you may inadvertently arch your back. Although this may provide temporary relief, it will give you a sore back and will not exercise your core in the proper manner. If this happens, widen your shoulders and make your palms wider. With wider shoulders and palms, you should then engage your core and keep your body straight as a plank.
- Avoid lowered hips. If you have been doing a number of arm circles and get tired mid-way through, you may find your hips want to lower to the floor. This is simply a sign of fatigue. However, letting your hips fall down actually defeats the entire purpose of the exercise, which is to tone the core muscles. If this happens, tuck in your buttocks and squeeze your glutes.
- If it happens repeatedly, you could also try widening the width of your stance so that your feet are a little further apart and more stable.
- If you are simply too fatigued, take a break and try again later when you have more energy.
- Don’t point your buttocks to the ceiling. If you point your buttocks to the ceiling like in the downward dog pose, you will not be working your abdominal muscles very well. The point of the plank is to have a straight torso and engage the core muscles throughout the exercise. If you find yourself pointing your buttocks to the ceiling, simply put your hips back down and engage your abdominal muscles.
- Avoid tilting your hips to one side. While doing the arm circles, you want your hips to be parallel to the floor. Avoid letting your weight fall to one of your hips, which will result in undue strain. The goal is to keep your hips in line with your shoulders and parallel to one another throughout the exercise. You want to work both sides of your body evenly.