Are planks a part of your fitness routine? The plank is an isometric core strengthing exercise in a position that resembles a flat board. The goal is to maintain a similar position to the standard push-up and hold it for a set amount of time or as long as possible. If you haven’t ever done a plank, don’t get discouraged if you are unable to hold it for very long. Keep working on it and slowly build up the amount of time that you can hold the position.
How to Properly Perform a Frontal Plank
There are several different types of planks but today we are going to focus solely on the frontal plank. We suggest using a yoga mat so that your arms and feet don’t slip.
- Lie face down on the mat and place your forearms on the floor. Make sure that your elbows are bent at a 90-degree angle and that your elbows are directly below your shoulders. Your toes should be flexed so that the bottom of your toes are touching the floor.
- Clasp your hands together so that your arms make a “v” shape. Your hands should be directly under your face.
- Gently rise up on your toes as if you were doing a push-up. In this position, your toes and forearms should be the only thing touching the ground. Your body should be hovering a few inches off the ground and you want your shoulders, butt, and feet to be in a straight line.
- Pull your belly button inward towards the back of your spine while squeezing your buttocks muscles.
- Your head should be in a neutral position and you should remain looking at the ground. Keep breathing normally.
- Start with a simple hold for 10 seconds and then gently lower yourself back onto the yoga mat. Slowly increase the amount of time that you hold the plank.
What are the Health Benefits of Planking?
Yesterday, my husband noticed that I was working on this post and said that planking is so much harder than it looks. Even though, planking may not be as easy as it looks it has a wide variety of health benefits. Continue reading to learn more:
Strengthen Your Core
Sitting and lack of physical activity is essentially making your core muscles weak. Your core muscles are responsible for making everyday activities such as mopping, carrying groceries, moving furniture, take out the garbage, and countless other activities that you do. When your core is weak, it makes doing everyday tasks harder and you are more prone to injury.
Keith Scott, A.T.C., C.S.C.S., a strength coach in Medford, N.J., suggests that you always focus on building your core before you begin lifting heavy weights or playing vigorous sports such as soccer, football, basketball, etc.
Build Strong Abs
Planks are one of the only bodyweight exercises that were designed to target all three major abdominal muscles in one move. Each of the three major abdominal muscles serves their own unique purpose; however, they all work together to help improve your daily activities.
- Transverse abdominis: provides pelvic support and stability, rotation, flexion, helps control breathing, provides pressure for bodily functions, and stabilizes your spine when you do squats or deadlifts in the gym.
- Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping, you can get the six pack look when you are lean and have low body fat, helps with respiration, controls the pelvic tilt during contraction, allows the lower limbs to work properly by stabilizing the pelvis, provides tension on the abdominal wall, helps stabilize the vertical spine, and provides support when flexing the spine forward (leaning forward).
- Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting.
Reduces Chances of Back and Other Spine Injuries
People who have a strong core reduce the chances of back or other spine injuries. When your core muscles are weak, your back muscles have to work harder to support your spine and neck. Planks focus on strengthening the abdominal muscles and other muscles that support the pelvis.
If you are performing a plank and you notice back pain, it is usually an indication that you aren’t properly performing the exercise. When you properly perform a plank, you shouldn’t feel any pain. Use the proper form that is mentioned in the section above. Note: you don’t have to hold the plank for long periods of time to be effective. There is no scientific evidence that holding a plank longer than 120 seconds isn’t necessary.
Low-Impact Abdominal Exercises
Planks are a low-impact, total-body exercise that trainers and health experts recommend to their clients. These abdominal exercises strengthen core muscle groups and prepare them for other types of exercises. Plus, they target abdominal muscles that crunches miss. It activates the Transverse abdominis muscles.
Sit-ups or crunches only target the surface muscles in your abdomen. Most trainers stopped encouraging their clients to do sit-ups or crunches because they are bad for your lower back. Skip them and start planking instead.
No Equipment Needed
Unless you have hardwood floors in your home, you don’t need any fancy equipment. You don’t have to wait for your next visit to the gym to perform this exercise.
Doesn’t Require a Huge Time Commitment
Most people complain that they don’t have time to workout but there are several exercise programs that don’t require a huge time commitment to be effective. Planks are just one option and you can do a full circuit in 15 minutes are less.
Planks are an excellent isometric exercise designed to strengthen and tone your core muscles. Even though planking looks easy, we promise you that it is a bit more challenging but they are worth committing the effort to do them. Don’t waste any more time on crunches or sit-ups and join a 30-day plank challenge today.