Some of us might look at the humble plank like it is the easiest exercise to do. But it’s a killer form of exercise. From strengthening to toning, planks are a complete body workout and it’s maybe even the most important exercise to do.
In fact, experts reveal if you can’t hold a plank for two minutes, you aren’t that fit. Just to give you a little perspective, the current record of a plank is 8 hours and 1 minute. How long can you hold a plank?
Remember, if it feels super easy, you’re probably not doing it right. Here’s why you should be doing planks.
Benefits Of Doing Planks
1. It Will Trim Any Belly Fat
The plank works on your abdominal muscles. It strengthens your core and gives definition to your abs. So you can say goodbye to belly fat and those stubborn love handles. And it doesn’t stop there! Planks work on multiple muscle groups including your shoulders and legs. It engages your entire body. As a result, you lose overall body fat.
2. It Increases Your Performace In Almost Everything
Planks work on your transverse abdominis, oblique muscles, and rectus adbominis. These are helpful when it comes to lifting heavy things and performing well in sports. Even if you aren’t doing any sport, planks increase your body’s performance to even do housework.
3. It Will Improve Your Posture
Do you need to keep reminding yourself to sit straight or not to hunch when you walk? Doing planks regularly will help you to have proper posture all the time. This is because to do a plank in the right form, you need to engage all your ab muscles in an upright manner. Also, doing planks gradually boosts your isometric strength, which, in turn, always nudges you to never hunch or slouch. Want to improve your balance as well? Try doing side planks or planks using a stability ball.
4. It Will Reduce Your Back Pain
Upper or lower back pain? Drop down and do a plank! Planks are amazing to strengthen worn out back muscles. Anything that helps your abdominal, shoulder, and leg muscles and your posture as well will have an influence on your back. Also, unlike crunches or situps, planks don’t require you to put a strain on your back.
5. It Will Increase Your Flexibility
It might look deceiving but planks improve your flexibility. This form of exercise increases flexibility in your posterior muscles. The more you stretch your hamstrings, shoulders, shoulder blades, and other parts of your body, the more flexible you become.
How To Do A Plank
- Get into a push-up form and place your elbows right below your shoulders
- Your head should be relaxed and you should look down
- Make sure your body forms a straight line from your head to toe
- Hold this position while breathing slow and steady
- Let go when you feel like your form is breaking
- Do this three times
- Rest for a minute between planks
This is the standard version of a plank otherwise known as forearm plank. When doing a plank, make sure not to hold your breath or dip your back and shoulders. If your shoulders, legs or body starts quivering, come back down, take rest, and do it again. Proper form is more vital than the amount of time you can be in that position. Once you master the standard plank for a minute, you can move on to other versions of a plank.
The Types Of A Plank
1. Straight-Arm Plank
Start in a standard plank form and place your hands right below your shoulders. Your eyes should be straight ahead. Hold this form as long as you can.
2. Side Plank
It starts like a standard plank. In this, you need to turn to your side and bring your legs and heels together. Raise your arm towards the ceiling while the other arm supports your body. Hold and come down.
3. Plank Rows
You would need two straight-edged dumbbells for this. Start in a high-plank position while holding the dumbbells for support. Now, bring pull the right dumbbell up to your ribcage and slowly bring it back down. Repeat on the other side.
4. Arm And Leg Extensions
Get into a high-plank position with your hands extended straight below your shoulders. Take off your right hand from the floor and touch your left shoulder. Your left arm and toes will help you balance. Bring your right hand back down and do the same with the other. Increase the number of taps as you progress.
You would need a stability ball for this. Kneel in front of a stability ball with your elbows resting on it. Push the ball forward so that you can extend your legs straight. Just like a normal plank, your elbow should be under your shoulders. Do not let your chest or body rest on the ball. Now comes the tricky part. Move the ball towards the right using only your forearms as though you are trying to stir a pot. Do the same in the other direction as well.