Planks are being touted as the latest and greatest core exercise as the common sit-up is being thrown out the door. Thing is, holding a one, two or even five-minute plank is not really all that transferable to anything other than a plank-holding contest.
Ideally you should be engaging in workouts that are good for physical and functional progression and the plank can fit this bill nicely, done right. Still, incorporating the plank into your workout routine is sure to be a great way to improve the look and function of your midsection and as we will discuss, other areas of your body.
What is the Plank?
The plank is one of the simplest looking exercises there is. You just rest in the upper pull-up position and make sure that you form a straight line from your back to your feet. That’s pretty much it although there are multiple variations of the plank and numerous ways you can target other core areas. The plank targets your abs and surrounding area so it is one of the best exercises for improving posture, balance and toning your stomach area.
Don’t be deceived by the simplicity of the exercise though; holding a plank for a prolonged period of time is tough. Here are some of the reasons the plank is one of the best exercises and should be added to your exercise regimen.
Targets Your Core Muscles
The plank will help to build the strength in your ab muscles and tighten the area around your midsection. While the plank can help you get that six pack you’ve always wanted, losing excess fat in the belly area is also something that will help achieve this type of result. This may start with a nutritionally sound diet as well as the combination of weight training. Regardless, incorporating the plank into your workout regimen is a good way to work the stomach area.
The other benefit of the plank is that it actually helps to increase flexibility in your posterior muscle groups in addition to building strength. The hard-to-stretch areas around your shoulders, shoulder blades and collarbone as well as your hamstrings and arches of your feet can all benefit from a little stretching that is caused by the plank. The strengthening of your core and back also has an added benefit of helping to reduce back pain.
Variations of the Plank
In addition to the standard push-up-like plank, you can also try an easier version that sees that you rest on your forearms rather than your palms. You can also try to do a side plank, a type of plank where you rest on one of your forearms and form a straight link with your body from head to toe.
The standard plank and the side plank are the most common planking exercises and are the easiest to execute but should not be overlooked. Maintaining the correct posture while doing the plank is extremely important as is tightening your abs to enhance the effects of the exercise.