Strengthen and Sculpt Arms With Yoga Planks

Strengthen and Sculpt Arms With Yoga Planks

A consistent yoga practice can offer the lean| toned arms you’re looking for| but unfortunately| hanging out all day in relaxing and restorative postures isn’t going to cut it. If you’re ready to work for a strong upper body| yoga teacher Kate Mak is all about spending time in these yoga plank variations. Learn more about each| and start incorporating them into your practice today!

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| Straight-Arm Plank

Straight-Arm Plank works the whole body| and Kate is a huge fan! If your upper body isn’t ready to hold the full extension of this plank (yet!)| simply drop both knees to the floor. This way| you can concentrate on holding the weight of your body with your arms as well as your core.

  • Start resting on all fours.
  • With your palms flat| rise up off your knees and onto your toes. Keep your hands directly below your shoulders.
  • Contract your abs to keep yourself up and prevent your bottom from sticking up. Remember to keep your belly button pulled in.
  • With your head and spine in line| keep your back flat u2014 don’t let it curve. Picture your body as a long| straight board.
  • Hold for at least 10 seconds. Aim for 20 to 30 seconds in the beginning| and work your way up to one minute as you get stronger.
    • | Dolphin Plank Pose

      This is the perfect plank variation for anyone working with wrist issues.

      • From Straight-Arm Plank| lower onto your forearms and walk your feet out. Your body should be in one straight line with your shoulders directly above your elbows.
      • Hold Dolphin Plank for at least five breaths. You can also pulse back and forth between this pose and Quarter Dog (also known as Dolphin Pose u2014 it looks a lot like Downward Facing Dog on your elbows) to really fire up and challenge your upper body.

      | Beginner’s Sage

      Your whole body will feel the burn in Beginner’s Sage (also known as Side Plank)| so get ready to breathe deep! Kate’s a big fan of this arm-activating and balance-challenging posture.

      • Begin in a Straight-Arm Plank. Roll over to your left side| and plant your left heel down so you are balancing on the outside edge of your left foot. Stack your right foot on top of your left| flexing both feet. If this is too hard| bend your right knee and place your right foot flat on the ground in front of your left leg for support.
      • Reach your right arm up| and gaze at your palm. Stay for five deep breaths| trying to keep your core strong and the pose steady.
      • Repeat on the other side for another five breaths.

      Photo: Jenny Sugar at Laughing River Yoga Studio

      | Four-Limbed Staff

      When it comes to upper-body strengthening| there’s no better pose than Four-Limbed Staff. Years later| Kate’s teacher will still pick apart her pose u2014 it is not an easy Asana to do with proper alignment and control! When your forearms and shoulders are in 90-degree angles| your muscles are working at their absolute maximum| she says.

      • Start in a Straight-Arm Plank with your shoulders directly above your wrists.
      • As you exhale| bend your elbows straight behind you so they brush against the sides of your body as you lower into Four-Limbed Staff. Keep your body parallel to the ground and your shoulders parallel with your elbows. Draw your navel in toward your spine to protect your lower back| holding for five breaths.