When you think about exercises for strengthening your core, what comes to your mind first? Crunches, right? If you too thought the same, then you’re not alone, because most people make that mistake. When it comes to developing core strength, crunches may be good, but a plank is the best exercise for it.
The benefits of a plank are many, because the exercise not only strengthens your core, but also works on your lower back, abdomen and hips and improves overall body balance.
- How To Do Planks?
- Common Plank Mistakes To Avoid
- Benefits Of the Plank exercise
- How To Start With Plank Exercise?
- FAQs About Plank Exercise
How To Do Planks?
Planks may look easy, and the act of planking may not be difficult, but mind you, holding a plank is an entirely different story! Those of you who have tried to hold a plank will know what we are talking about. Those of you who do not know what the fuss is about, try your first plank and then you’ll know!
If you’re just beginning with plank exercises, there are two basic ones you should try to get right before you move on to the more advanced versions of planks (yes, they exist!). Here are the two basic ones that you should begin with:
- Get into a push-up position.
- Lift yourself up while keeping your palms and toes firmly on the ground.
- Keep your back straight and your core tight such that you form a straight line from head to toe.
- Make sure your back is straight, if it is saggy then it can cause back pain later on. Also, keep your head relaxed. Your neck must be relaxed, straight and parallel to the floor. Hold the position as long as you can, and breathe by inhaling slowly and steadily.
- Lower yourself down onto your forearms, and keep the rest of the position the same as a high plank.
Common Plank Mistakes To Avoid
1. Arching your back
When you get tired of supporting your entire body’s weight, the first mistake you will make is arching your back. However, never ever do this! This can damage your spine in the long run. To avoid this mistake, make sure your shoulders and palms are broad enough. This will take the weight off the upper body and engage your core muscles properly.
2. Looking straight ahead
Making this mistake can strain your neck, so look at the floor or your mat to keep it well aligned.
3. Lowering your hips
This is another common mistake you can end up making when fatigue sets in, and this will again put strain on your lower back. In order to prevent this from happening, keep your hips raised by squeezing your glutes. Take deep breaths.
Benefits Of the Plank exercise
While holding a plank perfectly may be difficult and requires a lot of practice, here are some plank benefits you must know about. Maybe they will motivate you to keep up with your plank exercises!
1. Strengthens core
Planks are a great exercise for your abdominal muscles because they engage all the core muscle groups, such as external obliques, rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis and glutes. When all of these muscle groups are strengthened, you will notice improved ability to lift heavy weights, improved capacity for waist twisting and side bending, and a well-supported back and buttocks. A strong core is one of the biggest benefits of the plank exercise.
2. Improves balance
While working out, have you noticed that if you try to stand on one leg, you can’t maintain balance for more than a few seconds? If you’re wondering whether it could be because you’re clumsy, then no, you’re wrong. This happens because your abdominal muscles are not strong enough.
Your legs aren’t the ones keeping you straight and upright, your core is. By regularly doing plank exercises, your balance will also improve.
3. Improves posture
Are you tired of sitting in the office or at home in front of the laptop? Are you worried that this will indefinitely ruin your posture? Then, we suggest you do plank exercises regularly. They will improve your posture and keep your bones and joints aligned. A good posture will also ensure your back is in the correct position, thus reducing the chances of back pain. Moreover, having good posture gives an appearance of confidence, so this is one plank benefit that we could all use!
4. Improves flexibility
Flexibility is one of the best benefits of the plank exercise, as it expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups such as shoulders, shoulder blades and collarbones while also stretching your hamstrings, the arches of your feet and your soles. Thus, a plank becomes more of a strengthening exercise.
5. Improves metabolism
When you try to do a plank, you challenge your entire body. Doing a plank every day will burn more calories than traditional ab exercises such as sit-ups or crunches. When you do planks regularly, you strengthen your core muscles, which will burn more energy.
If you spend a major part of your day in front of a computer, then you must try to do planks regularly as this plank benefit can help you a lot. It will not only improve your metabolic rate, but also ensure that your metabolism stays enhanced all day long.
6. Improves mood and relieves stress
This is one benefit of plank that contributes to overall well-being. Plank exercises have a positive effect on your nerves, thus making them an excellent technique to relieve stress. This works because planks stretch muscle groups that contribute to stress in the body.
Planks, like any other form of exercise, also release endorphins, which improve mood and decrease tension.
7. Reduces belly fat
The plank is one of the best exercises for burning calories and reducing belly fat. Not just burning the fat around the abdomen, the plank exercise also gives you a tighter tummy. Now isn’t this one plank benefit you’d wish to reap?
How To Start With Plank Exercise?
While the benefits of the plank exercise are many, do not get too excited and jump into it straight away! If you are a beginner, start with one plank a day. Keep an aim of holding it for 30 seconds, and work your way up from there.
It is recommended that you try to do at least three sets of 60 seconds each to achieve the plank benefits mentioned above.
Precautions: Do not attempt to do planks if you:
- Have a shoulder injury
- Have pain in the shoulder after doing the exercise
- Have pelvic pain conditions
- Are pregnant or have recently become a mother
FAQs About Plank Exercise
Q. Can I do a 2-minute plank?
A. Yes, you can do a 2-minute plank if you are on the advanced workout schedule. A 1-minute plank is more than required for a beginner. However, do note that if you cannot hold a 120 seconds plank in an advanced workout schedule, you may be doing it incorrectly.
Q. What will happen if I do planks every day?
A. If you do plank exercises every day, you will have a stronger core, improved posture, better flexibility and a better mood.
Q. Do planks burn belly fat?
A. Yes, if you do them regularly, then planks can help you burn belly fat.