Best Plank Exercises: Improving Your Badminton Movement

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A woman perfoming a standard plank on an exercise mat with a man timing her

Building a strong core is absolutely essential for your badminton game, providing the solid base you need for agility, pinpoint accuracy, and unleashing explosive power on the court.

The core is defined by the area of your body which includes the abdomen, lower back, pelvis, and hips. Core strength refers to the collective strength and stability of these muscles.

In this article we will delve into the vital role core strength plays in badminton, highlighting “The Plank” as an exercise key for sharpening your core and elevating your game.

Core Strength for Badminton Performance

Badminton is a fast-paced sport and demands speed, agility, and precision, and having a strong core can help you gain an edge in each of these areas. 

Your core, encompassing muscles in your torso, acts as the linchpin holding your body together. It ensures smooth, fluid movements and enables you to glide across the court.

A robust core allows you to pivot, twist, and react swiftly to your opponent’s shots while maintaining unwavering balance, even when stretching for impossible-to-reach shots. 

An image of a torso incating the core muscles

Also, when the moment comes to unleash a thunderous smash, it’s your core muscles that orchestrate the transfer of energy from your legs to your upper body, culminating in an explosive, precise shot.

This underscores that core strength isn’t merely about sculpting killer abs; it’s the cornerstone of becoming a more agile, steadfast, and potent badminton player.

Let’s discover the myriad of ways in which strengthening your core can help your performance:

Enhanced Movement and Agility

A robust core provides the essential foundation for efficient court movement, facilitating quick direction changes, dynamic movements, and steadfast balance during lunges and jumps.

Control Over Your Shots

Engaging your core is pivotal when executing shots. It prevents the upper body from collapsing during lunges, ensuring you maintain control over your racket and, consequently, the precision of your shot.

Rapid Recovery

In fast-paced badminton rallies, you need to get back to the center of the court rapidly after each shot. A strong core helps you do this efficiently, ensuring you’re prepared for your opponent’s next shot.

Improved Shot Power

Core strength is a linchpin in delivering potent shots, be it aggressive smashes or delicate drops. It facilitates the transfer of force from your lower body through your torso to your upper body, yielding more formidable and accurate shots.

Balance and Stability

Core muscles underpin a stable and resolute posture, imperative for executing well-placed, controlled shots, while also reducing injury risk during abrupt movements or challenging reaches.

Endurance

Given the physical demands and duration of badminton matches, a robust core helps you sustain proper form and performance throughout the game, resulting in more robust and consistent shots.

Why use Planks to improve core strength?

So before we get into the plank exercises, let’s talk about why Planks?

Planks are an ideal choice to enhance core strength for several compelling reasons:

Full Core Engagement

Planks activate all major core muscle groups simultaneously, including the rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, obliques, and erector spinae. This comprehensive engagement ensures a well-rounded core workout.

Functional Strength

Planks mimic the body’s natural position for stability, making them highly functional for various activities, including badminton. This exercise builds core strength that directly translates to better on-court performance.

Versatility

Planks come in various forms and can be modified to suit different fitness levels and goals. Whether you are a beginner or an advanced athlete, you can tailor planks to challenge your core effectively.

Low Impact

Planks are a low-impact exercise, reducing the risk of injury while providing maximum core benefits. This makes them accessible to a wide range of individuals, including those with joint issues or beginners just starting their fitness journey.

Improved Posture

Strong core muscles support proper spinal alignment and posture, reducing the risk of injury and enhancing your overall body mechanics, crucial for maintaining a strong stance in badminton.

Enhanced Balance and Stability

Planks promote balance and stability by strengthening the muscles that keep you steady on your feet. This is particularly advantageous for badminton players who need to react quickly and maintain control during rapid movements.

Core Endurance

Holding a plank position challenges your core’s endurance, helping you maintain good form and stability throughout a badminton match’s duration.

Time Efficiency

Planks are a time-efficient exercise, allowing you to achieve significant core gains in just a few minutes per day. This convenience makes it easier to incorporate core training into your busy badminton training schedule.

Progressive Overload

As your core strength improves, you can increase the duration or intensity of your planks to continue challenging your muscles and making consistent progress.

How to Perform A Plank

Let’s start by first going over the two basic planks that most people think of, the standard plank and the forearm plank.

Standard Plank

Starting Position

  • Begin in a push-up position with your hands directly under your shoulders.
  • Your body should form a straight line from head to heels, creating a neutral spine.
  • Keep your feet hip-width apart, and your toes should be flexed, pressing into the ground.

Engaging Your Core

  • Contract your abdominal muscles to engage your core.
  • Imagine pulling your belly button towards your spine to maintain core stability.

The Plank

  • Hold this position, ensuring your body remains in a straight line. Avoid letting your hips sag or sticking your butt up in the air.
  • Keep your head in line with your spine, looking at the ground to maintain proper neck alignment.
  • Focus on deep and controlled breathing throughout the exercise.
A woman perfoming a standard plank on an exercise mat

Maintaining Proper Form

  • Do not allow your lower back to arch or your shoulders to round forward.
  • Squeeze your glutes and thighs to help maintain a stable position.
  • Aim to hold the plank for as long as possible while maintaining good form.

Forearm Plank

Starting Position

  • Begin by kneeling on the floor.
  • Place your forearms on the ground, elbows directly under your shoulders.
  • Extend your legs behind you, balancing on your toes.

Engaging Your Core

  • Contract your abdominal muscles and engage your core.
  • Similar to the standard plank, pull your belly button toward your spine.

The Forearm Plank

  • Hold this position, creating a straight line from your head to your heels.
  • Maintain proper alignment, ensuring your hips don’t sag or rise too high.
  • Keep your head in line with your spine, looking down at the ground.
  • Focus on deep and controlled breathing throughout the exercise.
A woman and a man on an exercise mats performing a forearm plank to improve core strength

Maintaining Proper Form

  • Avoid arching your lower back or rounding your upper back and shoulders.
  • Engage your glutes and thighs to support your core.
  • Aim to hold the plank for as long as possible while maintaining good form.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Dropping Hips: Keep your hips in line with the rest of your body. Do not let them drop or pike up.

Rounded Shoulders: Maintain a straight line from head to heels, and don’t allow your upper back to round.

Holding Your Breath: Remember to breathe regularly throughout the plank to prevent tension buildup.

Staring Up: Keep your head in line with your spine, looking at the ground, and avoid craning your neck.

Difference between the two Planks

On the surface, the two Planks look very similar to each other, so why choose one plank over the other? 

Standard Plank (High Plank)

  • Hand Placement: In a standard plank, you support your body with your hands, similar to the top position of a push-up. Your hands are positioned directly under your shoulders.
  • Muscle Engagement: The standard plank engages the muscles in your shoulders, chest, and triceps more compared to the forearm plank. It also requires more effort to stabilize your upper body.
  • Wrist Strain: Some people may experience discomfort or strain in their wrists when performing a standard plank, especially if they have wrist issues or lack wrist flexibility.
  • Variety: The standard plank offers variety in your core workout routine and can be a progression from the forearm plank. It can also help improve wrist strength and stability.

Forearm Plank (Low Plank):

  • Hand Placement: In a forearm plank, you support your body on your forearms, with your elbows directly beneath your shoulders. Your hands are typically clasped together or placed parallel to each other.
  • Muscle Engagement: The forearm plank primarily engages the muscles in your core, including the rectus abdominis and transverse abdominis. It also activates the muscles in your lower back, hips, and glutes.
  • Wrist-friendly: Since you’re not putting pressure on your wrists, the forearm plank is a wrist-friendly alternative for those who experience discomfort or pain in their wrists during a standard plank.
  • Core Emphasis: The forearm plank places a stronger emphasis on the core muscles, making it a popular choice for core strengthening and stability training.

Which one you choose depends on your fitness goals and comfort level

If you want to primarily target your core and minimize wrist strain, the forearm plank is a great choice.

Many people incorporate both plank variations into their workouts to achieve a balanced core and upper body workout.

Ultimately, the choice between the two plank variations depends on your personal preferences, fitness objectives, and any physical limitations or discomfort you may experience in your wrists or forearms.

Plank Variations

Here are some Plank variations that can help target different muscles and keep your workouts interesting and engaging, enabling you to avoid plateaus and train a complete and functional core.

Side Plank

Lie on your side with your legs extended and your elbow directly beneath your shoulder. Lift your hips off the ground, creating a straight line from your head to your feet. Hold on one side, then switch to the other. The side plank primarily targets the side muscles of your core, specifically the external obliques, on the side you’re supporting your body weight. These muscles help with side-to-side movement and also are essential for rotation.

A man perfoming a side plank an exercise mat

Plank Shoulder Taps

In a standard plank position, lift one hand and tap the opposite shoulder. Alternate sides, keeping your hips stable and minimizing rotation.

As well as engaging your core, plank shoulder taps also use your shoulder and arm muscles as you lift one hand off the ground to tap your opposite shoulder. This is beneficial in badminton when performing overhead smashes and powerful shots.

During the moment you are on one arm, your entire body has to use stabilizing muscles to maintain proper posture and prevent excessive sway, great for a complete workout and fantastic for badminton players. If one exercise is a must-include, it is this one.

A woman perfoming plank shoulder taps on an exercise mat in a gym

Plank Knee to Elbow

From a standard plank position, bring your right knee toward your right elbow, then return to the plank. Repeat on the left side. This engages your obliques and challenges your stability.

A woman perfoming plank mountain climbers outside

Plank with Leg Lift

Start in a standard plank position and lift one leg off the ground, keeping it straight. Hold briefly, then lower it back down and switch to the other leg.

A woman perfoming plank leg raises on an exercise mat

Plank with Hip Dips

Begin in a standard plank position. Rotate your hips to one side, bringing them closer to the ground without letting them touch. Return to the center and repeat on the other side.

Plank to Push-Up

Start in a forearm plank position, then push up onto your hands one arm at a time to assume a push-up position. Reverse the motion to return to the plank. This combines elements of both planks and push-ups.

A schematic demonstrating how to perform Plank to Push-Up to improve core strength

Mountain Climber Plank

From a standard plank position, alternately bring your knees toward your chest in a running motion. This exercise not only works the core but also enhances agility and hip flexibility, valuable for quick movements on the badminton court. It is also a great exercise for endurance, it really fires up the lungs.

A woman perfoming plank mountain climbers on an exercise mat

Plank with Arm Raises

A similar but alternative variation to the Plank Shoulder Taps. While in a high plank position, lift one arm off the ground and extend it forward, then alternate arms. This exercise not only strengthens the core but also improves shoulder stability and control, which can be beneficial for badminton players when reaching for shots.

Athletic woman perfroming a plank arm raises with dumbbells

Plank with Toe Taps

From a standard plank position, tap one foot out to the side and then back to the center, alternating sides. This variation challenges core stability and hip mobility, helping with lateral movements and balance in badminton.

Incorporating Planks into Your Training Routine

Next, we are going to talk about and give you some tips on how you, as a badminton player, can include plank exercises in your training regimen, and we will provide you with a sample plank workout routine great for badminton players

Tips for Using Plank Exercises

  • Warm-Up: Begin your training session with a light warm-up to prepare your muscles for the plank exercises. This can include jogging in place, jumping jacks, or dynamic stretches.

 

  • Proper Form: Focus on maintaining proper form during planks to maximize their effectiveness. Quality over quantity is key.

 

  • Progressive Overload: Start with shorter plank durations and gradually increase the time as your core strength improves. Challenge yourself by adding a few seconds or minutes to each plank session.

 

  • Variations: Incorporate different plank variations to target various muscle groups and prevent monotony. This can include side planks, leg lifts, or other dynamic plank movements.

 

  • Consistency: Include planks in your regular training routine, aiming for at least 2-3 times a week to see noticeable improvements in core strength.

 

  • Recovery: Allow your core muscles to recover between plank sessions. Overtraining can lead to decreased performance and increased risk of injury.

Sample Plank Workout Routine for Badminton Players

Warm-up

(5 - 10 mins) Anything to get your body ready for the exercise is great.

Jumping jacks: 2 minutes

High knees: 2 minutes

Arm circles: 1 minute

Dynamic stretches: 2 minutes

Plank Exercises

Standard Plank: Hold for 30 seconds (or as long as you can maintain good form).

Rest for 20 seconds.

Forearm Plank: Hold for 30 seconds.

Rest for 20 seconds.

Side Plank (both sides): Hold for 20 seconds on each side.

Rest for 20 seconds between sides.

Plank Leg Lifts: Alternate lifting each leg while in the standard plank position. Do 10 lifts on each leg.

Rest for 20 seconds.

Plank Shoulder Taps: Start in a standard plank and alternate tapping your shoulders with your opposite hand for 20 seconds.

Rest for 20 seconds.

Forearm Plank with Hip Dips: Hold the forearm plank and gently rotate your hips to one side, then the other. Repeat for 20 seconds.

Rest for 20 seconds.

To gradually increase your core strength, you can begin to repeat this circuit multiple times.

Here is a guide for you to aim for:

Level 1: 1 Round

Complete Novice – Let’s get used to the exercises first

Level 2: 2 Rounds

Beginner – OK, You know what a plank is, let’s start to take them more seriously.

Level 3: 3 Rounds

Advance – Yes, I Plank

Level 4: 5 Rounds

Athlete – I Heart Planks 

Hand writing Fitness challenge with marker
Level 5: 10 Rounds

8-Pack – As rigid as the wood it’s named for

Cool-Down and Stretching

(5 - 10 mins)

Perform static stretches for 20-30 seconds per muscle group.

Perform static stretches for 20-30 seconds per muscle group.

Notes:

Customize the durations based on your current fitness level. If 30 seconds is too challenging initially, start with shorter durations and gradually increase over time.

Focus on maintaining proper form and engaging your core throughout each plank exercise.

This sample routine can be performed 2-3 times a week, complementing your regular badminton training. One round of this routine only takes 5 – 6 mins and so can easily be added on to the end of your training or squeezed in somewhere else in your day.

Incorporating this plank workout routine into your training regimen will help strengthen your core, and improve agility, shot power, and balance, ultimately enhancing your performance on the badminton court.

The Key Takeaways

  • Core Strength is Crucial: Core strength is essential for badminton players as it underpins agility, shot precision, and power, contributing significantly to on-court performance.

 

  • Plank Exercises for Core Strength: Planks are an effective choice for improving core strength due to their full engagement of core muscle groups and low-impact nature.

 

  • Variety of Plank Exercises: Plank variations offer flexibility in training, allowing players to tailor their workouts to their fitness levels and goals.

 

  • Incorporation Tips: To integrate plank exercises, badminton players should focus on proper form, gradual progression, and consistency in their training routine.

 

  • Sample Plank Routine: A sample plank workout routine is provided to help players get started on their core-strengthening journey.

We encourage you to integrate plank exercises into your training routines, as strengthening your core can be a game-changer on the court. Improved movement, agility, shot control, and endurance are just some of the benefits that await those who commit to core training.

As you strive for excellence on the badminton court, remember that a strong core is your ally in achieving peak performance. Start incorporating plank exercises into your training regimen today, and witness the transformation in your gameplay. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced player, the path to success begins with a solid core foundation.

If you want to dive deeper into the world of core exercises for badminton players, make sure you check out our other articles, One Exercise to Improve Your Movement: Sit-ups and 10 Best Core Exercises For Badminton Players.

If you have any questions or specific topics you’d like us to explore further, don’t hesitate to reach out. Your journey to becoming a more agile, powerful, and precise badminton player starts now.

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