Chances are if you have been in the gym, you’ve seen someone perform a plank. A plank is a great alternative to traditional core exercises, such as a crunch.
Here are some advantages to incorporating the plank into your exercise routine:
1. When done in proper form, it can be less stressful on your back and neck compared to other abdominal exercises.
2. It strengthens your abdominal muscles. As with all strength training, it will tone and define your abdomen.
3. Its a total body workout. Your abdomen is but one of several muscle groups that will be engaged. Large and small muscle groups are involved in the plank, including the neck, shoulders, triceps, biceps, chest, back, buttocks and legs.
4. It can be done anywhere: at home, outdoors or in the gym.
5. Improves balance. The muscles of your back and abdomen make up the core, which is the center of your body. A strong center allows for greater equilibrium.
6. Improves your posture. A strong core allows you to stand tall. Also, a strong core allows you to perform other exercises more efficiently.
7. The plank can be done in varying positions, including in a decline or incline position. Or, done with the use of a stability/Bosu ball. Also, the plank can be done as a side plank or with the arms fully extended.
8. It increases your mental focus. A plank is as much a physical exercise, as it is a mental exercise. You have to fight the urge to give-up, sometimes you have to work through the burn.
9. Its a great breathing exercise. You will learn to focus on your respirations. Breathe in through your nose and exhale through your mouth.
Ways to incorporate a plank in your exercise routine:
1. As part of an interval workout, a plank can be done between various sets of other exercises.
2. When you first get up in the morning or before you go to bed. Take 30 seconds and do a plank.
3. During a commercial break of your favorite television show, take advantage of the time and plank. Challenge yourself and aim to plank with every commercial break.
4. Even on the days that you don’t exercise, its good practice to plank everyday. The biggest advantage of planking everyday, is that you will increase your endurance, thereby allowing you to increase the amount of time you can stay in a plank pose. The more time you spend, the stronger and leaner you will become. Not to mention the more calories you will burn.
When first starting out, take it slow, If you can’t plank for 30 seconds, plank for 10 seconds. As you build stamina, increase your time and work up to 60 seconds (or more if you can). The reverse is also true. If you can easily plank without much effort for 30 seconds, than you should up your game and increase your time from the start. Also, beginners should keep in mind that a plank can be done on your knees with your arms extended.
Practice proper form to avoid straining your back and neck. Align your neck with your back, keep your back straight and stomach in. And don’t forget to breath!
If you have a joint or back ailment, you should consult with your physician before you plank.
There are numerous advantages to the plank pose. Its a great exercise to incorporate into your exercise routine. Your core muscles, you posture and your slimmer waist line will thank you for it. Its Move It Monday, lets Plank It.