The Glute Trick That Will Totally Change Your Plank

Planks are an amazing addition to almost any workout (so long as you avoid the big mistakes). They work almost every muscle in your body, keep your mind focused on your body alignment, and can be done almost anywhere. And as Dr. Glen Wright pointed out when speaking to the American Council on Exercise, planks train the core for what they're supposed to do: Specifically, keeping the spine in proper alignment.

Of course, planks work the best when done with proper form. As Prevention outlines, this means focusing on a few key muscle groups like the rectus abdominis (the front of the abs) and the transverse abdominis (the sides of your core that support your lower back and define your waist). Engaging these muscles will ensure you keep your plank in proper form.

But there is one more muscle group you might want to pay attention to the next time you plank: Your glutes. The plank might not normally be about your backside. But this massive muscle group can do wonders for your form and your workout. Speaking with Livestrong, personal trainer SJ McShane encouraged more people to engage their glutes (basically squeezing the muscles in toward the bone) to help "lock in" their plank form.

Warm up your glutes first

You'll want to warm up your glutes before throwing them into the mix for a plank. Exercises like squats are a great option. You can also do glute bridges, which also work your hip flexors. The Mayo Clinic offers a great video tutorial. They suggest starting on your back with your knees bent and feel flat on the floor, heels under your knees. With your arms flat on the floor, lift your hips and focus on engaging your glutes rather than your lower back. Hold for five to ten seconds, then slowly return to the starting position.

Another great glute activator is the donkey kick. This exercise also works your core as you keep yourself balanced on your hands and knees, so you end up activating both major muscle groups before your plank. Once you're balanced on your hands and knees, pull the toes of one foot under like a runner at a starting block. Lift the other leg up in the air, knee bent 90 degrees, until the bottom of the foot faces the ceiling and the upper leg is in line with the back. Hold for five to ten seconds, then return to the starting position. Check out Livestrong's video tutorial.

These exercises will warm up your glutes so they're ready when it's time to plank. And though you don't have to engage your glutes every time, you'll find yourself holding a steadier form every time you do. It's a great way to make an already effective exercise even better.