Have you ever wondered which exercise works your core and strengthens your entire body, including your spine, trapezius, abdominal muscles, rhomboids, and more, and does so without the use of any equipment?
Plank - The Single Best Exercise
Plank is frequently cited as the best because it engages large groups of muscles throughout your body, it can be done anywhere, and it only takes a few seconds or minutes if you are advanced. Although it is commonly used to condition the core, it also involves your legs and shoulders, which is why many fitness experts recommend doing planks on a daily basis. This is the exercise that we all love to hate and despise to love. A plank is a simple, effective bodyweight exercise that can be done almost anywhere and requires no equipment. Holding your body stiff as a board builds strength in your core, as well as your shoulders, arms, and glutes. The main thing to remember about planks is that there is a proper way to do it, and it is not as simple as it may appear at first. If you want to reap the full toning benefits of the isometric exercise, you must first learn how to plank properly.
Variations of Plank
There are numerous plank variations that can be performed. Let's go over a few beginner to intermediate level variations.
Standard Plank - 15-20 seconds x 3-5 sets
There are several types of planks, with the standard plank being the most common or basic.
- Step 1: Begin by lying on your stomach, usually on the floor, and engage your hips while maintaining a nice straight line between your knee and your shoulder, as well as a flat back.
- Step 2: Increase the difficulty of this exercise by standing on your toes. Again, maintain a nice straight line from your shoulder to your ankle as you bear weight and load through your elbows and toes.
- Step 3: Now, kick your leg out to the side while keeping your spine flat and hold the position.
- Step 4: You don't have to kick it out too far, and return to the starting position.
Knee Plank - 15-20 seconds x 3-5 sets
This type of plank has two variations: you can support your body weight with your palms or forearms. We'll demonstrate the forearm knee plank.
- Step 1: Spread your elbows about shoulder width apart on the ground. Shoulders should be directly above your elbows.
- Step 2: Put your knees on the ground, but keep your body in a straight line.
- Step 3: Maintain a tight core, squeeze your glutes, and hold the position for as long as possible. This is a great exercise for the core as well as upper body strength.
Side Plank - 15-20 seconds x 3-5 sets
A side plank strengthens your obliques, which are the muscles that run along the side of your core. Oblique strength can also protect your spine, improve your posture, and lower your risk of back injuries.
- Step 1: Lie down sideways, ensuring that your elbows are completely under your shoulders and that your alignment is always intact.
- Step 2: Maintain a flat forearm.
- Step 3: Stack your legs one on top of the other.
- Step 4: Push yourself up and lift yourself while keeping your other arms straight in the air or on your hip.
- Step 5: Squeeze your glutes and push your hips up to the sky.
- Step 6: Maintain the position for as long as possible.
(There are several ways to do it, including with your forearms, palms, and knees, but this is the most basic)
Reverse Plank - 25-30 seconds x 2-3 sets
The reverse plank exercise is a great core exercise that is often overlooked. It primarily works the posterior muscles (those on the backside of the body), but when done correctly, it also works the abdominal muscles.
- Step 1: Sit on the floor with your legs outstretched in front of you.
- Step 2: Place your palms, fingers spread wide, on the floor, little behind and outside your hips.
- Step 3: Lift your hips and torso toward the ceiling by pressing into your palms.
- Step 4: Look up toward the ceiling, point your toes, and maintain your arms and legs straight.
- Step 5: Maintain a strong full body and form a straight line from your head to your heels.
- Step 6: Squeeze your abdominal muscles and try to move your belly button back toward your spine. Maintain this position for up to 30 seconds.
- Step 7: Lower yourself back to the floor if your hips begin to sag or sink.
- Step 8: Perform three sets of thirty-second holds.
Start Slow & Mix It Up
All these variations should not be performed on the same day. If you just started "planking" it’s advisable, for the first few weeks, to do just the ‘standard plank’ and then progress to other variations. On a single day, it’s advisable not do more than 2 variations of plank. Just mix up the variations each day and try new variations as you get better and stronger.
What will happen if you do plank every day for 60 seconds?
Reduces The Risk Of Back And Spinal Column Injury
When exercising, there is a risk of getting back and spine injuries. When done correctly, planking will strengthen your back muscles without putting too much pressure on your hips and spine. As a result, it will help relieve back pain while also promoting good posture when sitting and walking.
It Defines Your Abs
Now who wouldn’t like abs? It’s hard work alright but stay concentrated on your core. Planks target every major core muscle, which is why we use the term “major core muscles” to refer to all of your obliques and abdominals. Furthermore, as you improve and strengthen your planks, you will become stronger when performing other exercises. For example, if you go to the gym frequently, you will notice a significant increase in strength in several compound lifts such as squats and deadlifts. If you are a fan of abs and would like to go for it or know more, then read our earlier blog titled, 9 Golden Rules for Ripped Abs.
It increases your overall metabolism
Because planks are a compound exercise, they engage multiple muscles at the same time. In essence, you will burn a lot more calories in the same amount of time that other abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit ups, would take. Furthermore, building muscle burns more calories because the more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism will be. This is where fat burners are required and we recommend Epicvita L-Carnitine 500. It burns fat for energy and increases metabolism. But remember fat burners are just supplements and the max training effort is yours.
It Improves Your Overall Balance
Have you ever tried standing on one leg but couldn't stand up straight for more than a few seconds? If you tripped, it was because your abdominal muscles were not strong enough to keep you balanced. Every day, planking for one minute improves your overall balance. Finally, it will improve your performance in whatever sporting activity you participate in.
It Improves Your Mental Health
Did you know that plank exercises have an effect on our nerves? As a result, they are an excellent method of improving a person's overall mood. Planking, for starters, stretches muscle groups that influence stress and tension in the body. When you sit or stand all day, your muscles tense and tension forms in your shoulders, causing you to slump forward through the day. Situations like this, tax the muscles and nerves. Planks can help you calm your brain while also treating anxiety and depression symptoms.
The Bottom Line
Bodyweight exercises have recently gained popularity in the fitness world, owing to their simplicity and practicality in allowing you to get in shape using only your own body weight. For starters, planks are a type of bodyweight exercise that never gets old. This exercise is ideal for people who have a busy schedule and find it difficult to go to the gym due to time constraints. Doing a plank for a minute every day helps to strengthen your entire core. In fact, most fitness experts agree that planking is one of the most effective exercises for toning your abs. They work even better than crunches.
So, are you going to start doing planks today?
Serial Case Reporting Yoga for Idiopathic and Degenerative Scoliosis: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.7453/gahmj.2013.064
Integration core exercises elicit greater muscle activation than isolation exercises: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22580983/