A gym membership is no longer necessary to get fit because there are a bunch of exercises that can be done at home. One example of which is the classic and well-known plank. However, it’s also worth mentioning that this is not for everyone. Be sure that you have no pre-existing health condition that might exacerbate when planking.
Yes, we know – planking doesn’t sound so inviting, especially to those who haven’t worked out in a while. But planking is not called “The Perfect Exercise” for nothing, and after reading this article, you might just want to incorporate it into your exercise routine.
Planks are old-fashioned but they are highly effective. In this article, we will teach you: (1) the importance of core strength; (2) why planks are a good core exercise; and (3) how to properly execute the classic plank.
What comprises the core muscles?
Our core muscles include the abdominal, back, and pelvic muscles. These are further broken down into primary and secondary muscles.
What are the vital functions of the core?
The core muscles are involved in almost everything that we do.
- Core muscles play an important role in ensuring that we have a healthy back.
- Good posture is attributed to having strong core muscles.
- Routine movements such as bending, sitting, and standing all involve the torso which is formed by the core muscles.
- Our core connects the upper and lower parts of our bodies, which is why a well-conditioned core is a prerequisite to having good balance and stability.
What are the benefits of planking?
Planking mainly engages all the core muscles, but it benefits the whole body. The plank exercise stimulates the muscles of the abdomen, biceps, shoulders, buttocks, quadriceps, and shins. Furthermore, according to the American Council on Exercise, performing the classic plank daily significantly reduces the risk of lower and upper back pain.
Some other benefits of planking include:
- More calories are burned from planking than doing crunches or sit-ups. Therefore, it provides a boost in metabolism.
- It defines the core since planking uses all the core muscle groups.
- Planking encourages good posture as it keeps the bones and joints in alignment.
- The posterior muscle groups are stretched by planking – shoulders, shoulder blades, collarbone, hamstrings, foot arches, and toes – therefore promoting flexibility.
- And last but not least, it helps improve the mood. This idea may seem highly unlikely, but planking actually stretches the muscles that are most prone to stress. It eases tension in the legs, thighs, back, and shoulders, and in turn calms the brain’s fight-or-flight response.
How to perform the classic plank:
There are three important things to remember when performing the plank: (1) Don’t forget to inhale and exhale properly; (2) Keep your back straight and engage your abdominal muscles; and (3) Technique matters more than time.
- Lie face down on a flat surface in a “pre-push up” position
- Lift yourself up using your arms, making sure that the upper arms and forearms form a near-perfect 90-degree angle.
- Keep your upper and lower body as straight and rigid as possible.
- Engage your abdominal muscles and pull in your belly inwards towards the spine.
As we’ve mentioned, the technique is more important than time. So if you do a 30- second plank but your belly is sagging forward – it does no good at all. Initially, you might want to try holding it for 10 seconds until your core muscles become stronger.
Still not convinced that planking is good for you? Well, Cher might just that.
The American singer and actress and “Goddess of Pop” does planks on the regular. She started out with 30-second planks and thought she was going to die! But now, she easily does three to five-minute planks.
Could you even tell that she’s 72 years old? We surely can’t! But thanks to daily planking, regular exercise, and a vegetarian diet, Cher is able to maintain her youth and health.
Planking is not easy to master. It would take some time before your body gets used to it. But the key is to never give up! The benefits are definitely worth it, so just keep trying and trying.
Watch the video below from Bowflex for a quick tutorial on how to do the basic plank.
(Note: This article is for informational and entertainment purposes only and not to be treated as a professional opinion or diagnosis.)