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Hey, Quick Question: Why Are Models So Bad At Planking?

We asked a Nike trainer why these super-fit ladies have such poor form.
A really excellent downward-facing dog. Screengrab: YouTube

A really excellent downward-facing dog. Screengrab: YouTube

Welcome to our column, "Hey, Quick Question," where we investigate seemingly random happenings in the fashion and beauty industries. Enjoy!

In the 18 months that we've operated our "Hey, Quick Question" column, we've attempted to shed light on such burning mysteries as Kate Hudson's Met Gala wrench, Gigi Hadid's temperature regulation, Fyre Festival and what is perhaps the most pressing of them all, butts being the new pants. (Editor's note: We never did solve that one, and are still on the case.)

Today, we have a new phenomenon to discuss, and it's one that we at Fashionista have been discussing, inexplicably, for quite some time. It combines two of our very favorite topics — models and Instagram — into one weird, messy conundrum: Why are models so bad at planking? 

This is driving us absolutely nuts.

We should clarify that by "plank," we're not referring to the 2011-era social media fad (that Wikipedia also calls "the lying down game") in which participants would just recline facedown on flat surfaces, for no explicable reason. What we are referring to, however, is the ubiquitous workout move that involves propping yourself up, facedown, on your elbows and toes. It's ubiquitous for the reason that it's a genuinely excellent full-body exercise — it works your back, your arms, your shoulders, your glutes and your hamstrings, all at once, like a human Pilates machine — that we could all afford to work in every now and then.

And yet, being worked out by a myriad of the fitness industry's top, likely most expensive trainers, many models still don't seem to know how to do it correctly. We know this because we asked Nike trainer Joe Holder. Here's what he said:

To do the plank correctly, think about squeezing the glutes while also just hollowing out slightly. Bring the navel in towards the spine, bring shoulders back and down (like you're driving your elbows towards the hips, but your arms don't actually move) and stay engaged. You'll immediately feel the difference if doing it correctly. 

We first began examining this in March, when Gigi Hadid planked through an interview with her trainer, Rob Piela, in a promotional video for Reebok. She was subsequently dragged to filth in the clip's comments over her poor form; choice observations included "Um, this is NOT a plank...get that butt down girl!!", "this is an insult to planks" and "I'm 66 and I can do a better plank, for a minute and a half to two minutes."

What's going on here, Reebok?

After a quiet, plank-free summer, our neuroses were reignited to a flaming blaze last month when Love Magazine appeared to have began shooting its annual Advent video calendar. As a behind-the scenes-teaser of sorts, Love Editor-in-Chief Katie Grand has been filming models planking while answering a series of questions and posting them to her Instagram feed. 

It must be said, however, that some models have had great plank form! Despite the fact that Karlie Kloss's Adidas-repped body is largely obstructed by a white robe, you can tell that her shoulders are squarely above her elbows and her hips are a good foot below Hadid's. 

Slick Woods's plank also debuted to positive reviews:

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Others, however, have not had such luck. Winnie Harlow's hips are too low:

Sara Sampaio's are too high:

Emily Ratajkowski's form wasn't exactly well-received in the comment section, either:

Do not try and tell me Gunnar Peterson made you do this, Kendall Jenner:

Put those hips down, Kaia Gerber, you spritely 16-year-old, you:

Teen pop star Madison Beer chose to complete her plank on a couch (which sort of defeats the purpose, but alas!): 

Bella Hadid! What are you doing?! You are contractually employed by Nike! I was rooting for you!

We were all rooting for you! How dare you!

Listen, we're not just saying this to be assholes — and we're apparently not making this up, either. Holder told us that this is a legitimate concern for models based on the type of physical work they do on the job. That's not a Get Out of Jail Free card, though, as this can get your body into real trouble. He said:

Basically, with a plank, you need to focus on what's called "anti-extension." People, by nature, have a natural curve in their lower back, but models, due to the style of their work and the way [hold] their bodies, often have an excessive curve. So, when they plank, they end up sinking slightly and have poor plank form even though it feels "natural" to them. Risks of poor plank form include excess pressure on lower back and hips — in addition to just the embarrassment of doing a plank wrong. 

I believe we have our answer, folks. We're officially satisfied with this response and shall now accept all future planks with that particular grain of salt.

*Loud weeping* Screengrab: YouTube

*Loud weeping* Screengrab: YouTube

The More You Know.

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