Yes Ladies & Gentlemen it’s core time and that means PLANKS!
Planks are amazing exercises that have many benefits.
You’ll improve core definition and performance
You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column
You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism
You’ll significantly improve your posture
You’ll improve overall balance
You’ll become more flexible than ever before
You’ll witness mental benefits
What is a plank?
A plank is a simple, but effective core exercise that helps you build stability and strength throughout your entire body. The plank is achievable in several different methods, but the main goal of the plank exercise will have you with your body perpendicular to the ground, stomach facing down, elevating your torso off the ground with either your elbows or hands.
The plank is a popular pose in Yoga routines as well as being used by many other sports. It can be used by itself or as part of a more intense training regime.
The beauty of the plank is that it is a bodyweight exercise therefore you do not need any expensive equipment, and it can within reason be done anywhere.
Bodyweight exercises are great for your core and are tailored to your own needs making them particularly interesting for a more senior age bracket. And for those a little self-conscious you can do them in the privacy of your own home.
There are a few variations of planks. But to keep it simple we need to first understand how to do a basic plank.
The High Plank.
Also known as a front plank, the most common variety, simply arrange yourself as if you were doing a push-up. Rise to the top of this position, making sure your back is completely straight, and hold the position here.
- Make sure your elbows are directly under your shoulders.
- Line your wrists up with your elbows.
- Push your body upwards, and keep your chin tight(ish) to your neck. There should be a bit of space.
A recommended time for beginners is 30 seconds, but if you can’t do that, you can consider anything less to be good practice – or switch to a forearm plank, where you rest your weight on your forearms instead of your palms, allowing you to hold the position for much longer.
- Make sure you keep your chest and abdominals taut for the duration of your plank. This allows you to understand how your core muscles work together and also ensures proper balance
- Make sure you keep your thighs activated! This is an important part of maintaining balance during a plank.
- Your body should look like a straight line for the duration of your plank.
- Rest for a minute or so between planks, and repeat the exercise at least three times.
The plank targets almost every group of muscles in our body. This means that adding planks to your workout regime will make your entire body stronger. There’s more than that, though – planks don’t just improve muscle mass. They improve the strength of our skeletal system, they improve our ability to focus and concentrate and even help us breathe properly.
The same as above but resting on forearms. We are trying to build to 3 repetitions of 1 minute each for this exercise.
Planking by itself may not give you the six-pack you have craved, but when mixed in as part of a varied exercise regime the benefits are immense.
Side & Reverse Planks.
The ‘regular’ plank exercise can be done facing the front, side, and reverse, with each direction activating and training different muscle groups.
- Front planks – the standard plank – help strengthen the upper and lower body
- Side planking is very good for training your obliques and providing stabilization to your spine
- Side planks are performed by first lying down on your side. Start with your right side, making sure your legs are straight.
- Raise yourself on your right forearm, making sure your body stays straight – it should look like a diagonal line that goes from your head to your feet.
- Make sure your hips and knees are both elevated off the ground.
- If you need to, you can rest your left hand on the floor to help stabilize yourself.
Reverse planks are great for improving your glutes and your lower body, particularly your hamstrings and lower back.
- Sit on the ground with your legs straight out to the front.
- Put your hands, palm-down, on the floor below your shoulders.
- Flex your buttocks and your thighs, then push your body upwards – you’ll be in a reverse plank.
- If you need extra support you can start with your elbows on the floor instead of your hands.
- Ensure your body, as always, maintains a straight line.
Side plank crunch.
This is a plank that blends two popular exercises – the plank and the crunch.
Get into the side plank position, lying on the floor sideways with your right hand beneath your shoulder. Making sure the inside of your opposite foot is resting on the floor in front of your other one.
Tighten your abs and push into your right hand, forming a diagonal from head to toes. Crunch forward and down, trying to bring your left elbow to your right, then return to starting position and try to do this ten times. Switch sides when you’re done and repeat.
Caution is needed.
While planking is an amazing exercise, you must take caution planking journal before jumping into a routine filled with planking. Like anything, excessive use of this exercise, or improper execution, can lead to some unpleasant issues.
- If you feel any pain, particularly in your neck or lower back, this could indicate that you aren’t strong enough to be exerting as much effort in this area. This could lead to compressed vertebrae or too much pressure on your spine.
- It can be smart to start doing the plank for only a few seconds at a time, to assure yourself that you don’t have any injuries that would be exacerbated by doing the exercise.
- Make sure you don’t let your hips, head, or shoulders sag! This improper form of execution can lead to a whole lot of injuries in the muscle groups you’re trying to strengthen.
- Don’t put your hands too close together – this can throw off your balance, and tends to create improper stability that remains with the user
- Don’t hold your breath. Planks can be held for a long time, and going this long without oxygen can be unhealthy for your brain. Besides, you need a constant flow of oxygen to exercise properly.
- Don’t hold a plank for too long – if you’re finding that you can hold planks fora very long time, flex your abs or belly button, or try a harder variation.
Even for those who execute the plank perfectly, there are some things you should be aware of lest you find injury.
- If you have existing back pain, strained muscles, or injured discs, you might want to consider doing a routine with crunches instead of planks. Crunches are also reputed for their ability to build core strength, but they don’t flex the spine.
- You should see a health professional before starting any exercise routine to assess your current state of physical health. Your doctor can inform you if there are any precautions you should take before you start exercising.