Most people have heard of doing planks to get in better shape. Planks are one of the best types of exercises when it comes to exercising core muscles, thereby producing better posture and a flatter stomach. In addition, you can start to see results much more quickly when doing these types of exercises as opposed to more traditional abdominal workouts.
The great thing about this type of exercise is that the core muscles are fully engaged while the rest of the body is also challenged, allowing you to benefit from head to toe. If you have had a back injury, these exercises also work much better for you because they do not irritate the back like crunches can. There are five major benefits to doing planks on a daily basis. Read on to find out why these exercises are so useful.
1) A stronger core and washboard abs
The reason that planks works so well to get your core in great shape is because of the muscles that are directly involved in performing the exercises, namely the glutes, obliques, rectus abdominus and other abdominal muscles. This allows you to have complete definition in your core. If you want to have a flatter stomach, washboard abs or the classic hourglass shape, these are the muscles that you want to engage. In addition, when you engage these core muscles you are able to lift more weight, have a well defined buttocks and protect your back from future injury.
2) Reduce your chances of being injured
Your core muscles are essentially what allows you to do everything from twists your body to run and jump, not to mention lifting heavy objects. It is also an essential component of having good posture. All of these things protect your back and help you prevent being injured when doing relatively normal tasks. In order to achieve this level of protection, you have to find a way to exercise that is safe and effective. Planks can provide you with all of these benefits safely and they are much easier on your spine and your pelvis than other types of exercises.
3) Exercise wherever you choose
The great thing about planks is that there is no special equipment required. You can get an effective workout in a small space and you can do it very quickly, so you can workout anywhere at practically any given time. Just doing a single set of planks can boost your metabolism and help you burn extra calories.
4) Get better posture
As previously mentioned, strong core muscles help you have better posture. Your spine is better protected and you carry yourself better. This means that you have more coordination because your balance is dramatically improved. People that have weak core muscles often have a difficult time keeping their balance, even when doing something as simple as walking on a level surface. If you think of individuals that have outstanding balance, they almost always have excellent core muscles to support the rest of their body.
5) Better balance
This is something that has already been touched on, but it is so important that it is worth repeating again. If you want to have the coordination and balance to do virtually any type of recreational activity or play sports, it is essential that you have strong core muscles. Truthfully, you need strong core muscles just to do normal day to day activities, even if you are not pushing yourself physically.
If you want to try planks for yourself, continue reading to find three foundation exercises that can help you get started.
Place your forearms on the floor and extend your legs all the way back until they are completely straight. Clasp your hands together so that your elbows are directly underneath your shoulders and put your weight on the balls of your feet. Be sure that you can draw an imaginary straight line that runs all away from your head to your heels. Now, bring your belly button in like you are trying to make it touch your spine. Make sure that both your glutes and quads are fully engaged throughout the entire exercise. Hold this pose for a minimum of 30 seconds and a maximum of 60 seconds.
Get on your right forearm, making sure that your elbow is directly under your shoulder and one foot is stacked on top of the other. Keeping this posture, make an effort to lift your hips so that they are up as high as you can get them. Keep working until you are able to form a line from your head to your heels that is straight. Now extend your left arm over your shoulder so that your right hand presses into the mat. Be sure that your core muscles are engaged throughout the entire exercise. Hold the pose for a minimum of 30 seconds and complete the exercise on each side. Once you are able to accomplish this with relative ease, make things more difficult by bringing your leg up and holding it there.
Straight Arm Plank
This particular exercise requires you to put your hands under your shoulders while simultaneously getting on the ball of each foot. Be sure to keep your arm straight while looking directly at the floor. Bring your shoulder blades together in a squeezing motion and simultaneously bring your belly button up like you are trying to touch your spine. Engage both your glutes and quads throughout the entire exercise and hold the pose for a minimum of 30 seconds and a maximum of 60 seconds.
Here is a bonus exercise you can use to challenge yourself.
Put your hands under your shoulders and come up to the ball of each foot, being certain to keep your feet more than a hip width apart. Without moving your hips, allow your right hand to come up so that it touches your left shoulder. Return to the starting position and do the exact same thing with your left and, touching your right shoulder. Alternate one hand and then the other without moving the rest of your body. Keep going for least 30 seconds, and up to 60 seconds if you feel up to it.
By NORA TOBIN