The plank exercise is king when it comes to training your core muscles.
With full alignment, stability and tension, it works your full body, emphasising your lower back, rectus abdominus and inner obliques as a way to hold it all together.
It is a great way to complement your current workout routine, whether you’re training at gyms for mobility or strength.
PLANK: THE BASICS
- Begin in the top of a push-up position with your elbows directly under your shoulders. Alternatively, you can come down onto your forearms, with your hands clasped together, for a forearm plank.
- Engage your glutes, raise your hips slightly (an inch or so at most) and tighten your core, drawing your belly button in towards your spine. This will make sure the pose engages your core muscles properly.
- Engage your legs actively by contracting your glutes and quads and engage your arms by pushing away from the ground.
- Hold it for a set period of time: 30 seconds is good to start and try to work upwards from here.
- Engage your abdominal muscles to squeeze your belly button up towards your spine while maintaining a neutral back
PLANK: THE BENEFITS
1. IT STRENGTHENS YOUR CORE
There are few exercises that work your total body and core strength so intensely as the plank. Whether you choose a conventional plank exercise, a side plank, an uneven plank, or any other variation, your core muscles will be worked hard.
2. IT IMPROVES MUCLES DEFINITION
When you achieve a low bodyfat percentage (below about 10% for men, 15% for women), you will really be able see your core muscles. Performing hard core exercises like planks will mean that there will be a tight, toned four- or six-pack to reveal.
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3. IT AIDS YOUR METABOLIC RATE
More muscle generally means a slightly boosted metabolic rate. There are few exercises that can match the plank in terms of core muscle stimulation, making it a favourite for any muscle building regime.
4. IT HELPS TOWARDS IMPROVING YOUR POSTURE
Perfecting your posture will usually come as a result of strengthening your core muscles and lower back and ensuring that spinal alignment and upper back muscles are healthy. The plank will both work the relevant muscles needed for good posture and will also improve mindfulness over your spinal positioning.
5. IT HELPS WITH BACK PAIN
Back pain is often a result of poor posture (which, as we just saw, the plank can help with), poor lower back and core strength, and a lack of blood flow to the lower back muscles. Plank exercises all strengthen the core and lower back, will improve vascularity, and will help with posture.
6. IT IS GREAT FOR CORE MUSCLE STABILITY
Learning to tighten your core muscles isometrically during a plank exercise will both strengthen the muscles themselves and allow you to develop a better mind muscle connection to them. This will aid you in full body and core stability, which will have carry-over into just about any athletic discipline.
7. IT WORKS MORE THAN JUST YOUR CORE MUSCLES
Resistance training works your muscles, of course. However, it also works the soft tissue surrounding the muscles and joints, as well as the bones themselves. Any plank exercise will rely on full body resistance, through your core, your shoulders, your hips, your legs, and your spine. The soft tissue and bone around all of these areas will grow stronger and denser as a result of this training.
With so many benefits, resistance training should be something everybody tries. You can do the plank from just about anywhere, be it working out from home, at the gym or during your office breaks. Holding the position through a tough plank exercise is just about the best bodyweight workout you can perform for your core muscles and should form a cornerstone of any athletic training.