Planks are an isometric, full body, highly effective exercise with focus on strengthening your core. And they are tough!
Want Core Strength? Answer = Planks!
Strengthening your core is important for balance, posture, tone, and stabilization.
If you think about it, all other movement is derived from and dependent on a stable core. A strong core can help prevent injury during activities of daily living and as you advance your workouts.
It can also prevent and help reduce back pain by improving your posture so there are just a ton of benefits of doing planks.
Benefits of Planks
Like other forms of exercise, the plank helps burn calories, increase metabolism, and decrease stress, depression, and anxiety.
Planks work all the major muscle groups from head to toe:
- the arms,
- upper back,
- lower back,
- the abdomen,
- transverse abdominis,
- the glutes,
- calf muscles.
Planks also strengthen and work the flexibility of your ankles, feet, toes, wrists, and fingers!
There are a ton of different variations of the plank ranging from easy to difficult.
From Beginner Planks to Advanced
Start with the basics and as you get stronger and more stable, add complexity and variation for added benefits.
- High plank or straight arm plank
- Plank or plank on the forearms
- Side plank (high or forearm)
- Reverse plank
- soldier plank
- Dolphin plank (plank down dog)
- Plank pelvis tuck
- Plank walks
- Plank with elbow lift
- add weight to advance
- Plank with leg lift
- Plank w/ opposite arm and leg extension
- increase intensity by reaching arm and leg diagonally
- Plank Jacks
- Caterpillar plank
- Twisting knee plank
- Side plank twist, crunch
- add weight for complexity
- Side plank lat leg lift
- Side plank medial leg lift
- Reverse Plank alternating leg crunch
New To Planks? No Prob.
If you’re new to planks, start with the basics.
- Focus on engaging the core. Flex the abs and concentrate on staying stable and centered or balanced.
- Stack your shoulders. Lift through your spine as opposed to slouching. Keep your scapulas pulled toward your ribs.
- Flatten from head to toe. No butts in the air. Try not to let the hips dip either. Think “long and lean.”
- Hold the basic poses for up to one minute.
- When performing intermediate and advanced planks, perform up to 15 reps, rest, and do another set.
- Work up to 3 to 5 different plank exercises working up to 3 sets each.
- Each set should take between 30 seconds and one (1) minute.
- Exercise sessions can take 10 – 30 minutes depending on your goals
As you can see, planks are a convenient way to get a full body work out.
Planks can be done at home (or anywhere) and they don’t take much time. If you travel a lot planks are a great way to get a quick core exercise in the morning right in your hotel room.
If you’re looking for a simple, full body work out packed with mind/body benefits, there are plenty of variations to choose from to keep you engaged and feeling good!