Are you looking for a simple but very effective way to get stronger and work your core at the same time? Look no further than the Plank. Switching up from doing the boring crunches or ab machines and incorporating doing planks can help you see results faster. Did you know that performing a plank can help improve core strength, upper body strength, and stability?
This type of exercise is an excellent Bodyweight exercise that is simple yet so effective and can be performed anywhere. No expensive equipment or gym membership is needed. It is an exercise that can be done at any age with many variations to switch up your workouts and can be performed with modifications to help you reach your goals.
Here are some great benefits of adding this exercise in your weekly workout regimen or even while you are watching TV. 😁
- Improve your Posture. It can help improve your posture. A strong core is one key to having good posture. Planks help you develop strength in your core muscles (the obliques and transverse) and the shoulders, back, and spine. So, if you’re experiencing back pain from sitting all day, good news; Planks can help. How is that? This simple exercise strengthens your back, chest, shoulders, neck, and abs, making it easier to keep your shoulders back (no hunching) and your lower back in a neutral position while sitting or standing, which are two vital components of good posture. (1)
- Back pain Be gone. Back pain can be reduced when doing more planks because the exercise requires minimal movement while contracting all layers of the abdominal fascia, building strength to the core, which, in turn, helps reduce low-back pain. Having strong abs will take a lot of this stress off your back. When done correctly, the plank uses the deep abdominal muscles and recruits the hip, shoulder, neck, and upper-back muscles. This also helps to arrange the ligaments in the back properly, which further prevents painful back conditions. (2)
- Builds Stronger & Tighter Abs. Planks help you build up your abdomen’s muscles and are easier on your neck than a standard crunch. It is one of the best core exercises to perform. As the deep abdominal muscles become stronger, your mid-section tightens. Your core is responsible for many functions of your daily life, and it is one muscle that is not trained as much or easily overlooked. Having a good core strength is not just for looking good, but also helps keep you safe from injuries.
- Increase your Stability and Flexibility. Did you know that a majority of your stabilization comes from your core? Core strength is the key to stability and flexibility. While it may not feel like it, planks are a great way to stretch out the lower half of your body. As you get into the hold position, you lengthen your hamstrings and the arches of your feet, making the plank pose a dual strength and stretch exercise. A recent article in the Harvard Medical School publication Healthbeat called the core muscles “the sturdy central link in a chain connecting your upper and lower body.” It was noted that core strength helps prevent falls. Balance is aided because the muscles are strong and flexible enough in the midsection to keep that chain working efficiently. Core muscles can adjust almost automatically to keep the body in a better position after a misstep or slip. (3) (1)
Types and variations of Planks
- High Plank (Standard)
- Forearm Plank (Low Plank)
- Knee Plank (Modification to High/Low Plank)
- Full Side Plank
- Forearm Side Plank
- Forearm Side Plank with Knee on the floor (Modification)
- Side Plank with Ab Crunch
- Side Plank with Hip Dip
- Star Plank (Full Side Plank with Leg up)
- Plank with Thoracic Spine Rotation
- Plank with Single Leg lift
- Plank Push-ups
- Spiderman Plank
- Plank Jacks
- Rocking Plank (Body Saw)
- Plank with Shoulder Tap
- Reverse Plank
- Plank Hip Dip
- TRX Planks
- Bosu Planks
- Single-arm Plank
- Chaturanga (Use in Yoga)
- Renegade Row
How to perform the exercise:
- Start with your shoulders over your wrists; make sure your elbows are directly under your shoulders and your wrists line up with your elbows.
- Step your feet back, one at a time. Keep your feet hip-width apart. (For more stability, bring your feet wider than hip-distance apart, and bring them closer for more of a challenge)
- Make sure your back is straight and not sagging or arched. Your body is straight, and butt is not up like doing a downward dog. You want your body to be straight like a board.
- Your starting position will look like you are getting ready to perform a push-up, but you are keeping the position and not lowering. For modifications, you lower to your forearms with your elbows bent at 90 degrees; this also helps if you have weak or injured wrists. You can also drop one knee.
- In this position, contract your ab muscles, glutes, and thigh muscles; while breathing normally. Make sure you are looking at the floor and not up or straight ahead.
- Hold for 30 seconds. Rest for 15 seconds. Repeat.
- If you are a beginner, start with holding for 10 secs, and then build up.
- You are allowing the hips, head, or shoulders to drop. The most common mistake is letting your hips sag or arching your back. Keep your body straight like a board.
- Look at the floor in front of you. Imagine holding a tennis ball between your chin and neck. This keeps your spine neutral.
- Holding both hands together (creating internal rotation and instability at the shoulder joint). Make sure to keep your hand out shoulder width.
- Locking elbows.
- Holding your breath, when performing any exercise, make sure you breathe.
So in conclusion, performing a plank a few times a week adds up to many great benefits and helps you reach your goals to looker better into those skinny jeans. What is your favorite plank exercise? Have you tried performing it recently?
You should seek prompt medical care for any specific health issues and consult your physician before altering your diet or starting any fitness program