Are you planking? Planks are one of the best isometric core strength exercise that trainers recommend. The plank exercise routine uses your own body weight to strengthen your core muscles. Most people don’t realize that having a weak core can increase your risk of back pain, poor posture, mobility problems, balance issues, and your muscles are easily fatigued.
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Plank exercise routine allows you to focus on strengthening all of your core with just one exercise. The plank position should resemble a flat board while you are performing the exercise. Dan John, a veteran strength coach and men’s health contributor, suggests that a healthy adult should be holding the plank for no more than 120 seconds. He also says that if you can’t hold a plank for 120 seconds, you’re either a) too fat; b) too weak; or c) doing something wrong in your workouts. Don’t worry, if you can’t hold your planks for 120 seconds, please don’t throw in the towel.
Instead, focus on increasing how long you can hold the plank exercise routine. We suggest following this 30-day plank challenge for beginners.
The 30-Day Plank Challenge
Perform a Frontal Plank with Proper Form
There are several different types of planks but we are going to focus solely on plank exercise form. We suggest using a yoga mat so that your arms and feet don’t slip.
- Lie face down on the mat and place your forearms on the floor.
- Make sure that your elbows are bent at a 90-degree angle and that your elbows are directly below your shoulders.
- Your toes should be flexed so that the bottom of your toes are touching the floor.
- Clasp your hands together so that your arms make a “v” shape. Your hands should be directly under your face.
- Gently rise up on your toes as if you were doing a push-up. In this position, your toes and forearms should be the only thing touching the ground.
- Your body should be hovering a few inches off the ground and you want your shoulders, butt, and feet to be in a straight line.
- Pull your belly button inward towards the back of your spine while squeezing your buttocks muscles.
- Your head should be in a neutral position and look face down towards the yoga mat or floor.
- Keep breathing normally.
- Start with a simple hold for 20 seconds and then gently lower yourself back onto the yoga mat.
- Slowly increase the amount of time that you hold the plank until you are able to hold a plank for 120 seconds.
What are the Health Benefits of Planking?
As we already mentioned above, plank exercise routine can help strengthen your core muscles and prevent complications due to having weak core muscles. Even though planking looks easy from a distance, we do want to warn you that it isn’t as it looks. But with plenty of practice you can master it in no time at all.
Strengthen Your Core Muscles
Modern technology has made life easier but at the same time, it has increased risks of developing health risks. Chances are you spend countless hours sitting behind a desk and don’t get enough physical activity on a regular basis. The “sitting disease” and lack of physical activity causes your core muscles to become weak.
The core muscles in your body are responsible for making everyday activities such as mopping, carrying groceries, moving furniture, taking out the garbage, and countless other activities that you do easier. When you have weak core muscles, it makes doing everyday tasks harder and you are more susceptible to injuries.
Keith Scott, A.T.C., C.S.C.S., a strength coach in Medford, N.J., suggests that you always focus on building your core before you begin lifting heavy weights or playing vigorous sports. You should always stretch your muscles and warm up your muscles prior to doing your plank exercise routine. We suggest that you warm up by walking or riding a bicycle for 7 to 10 minutes to raise the temperature of your muscles prior to planking.
Reduce Back Pain and Spine Injuries
Strong core muscles greatly reduce the chances of injuring your back, experiencing back pain due to weak muscles, or other spine injuries. When your core muscles are weak, your back muscles have to work harder to support your spine and neck. Starting a plank exercise routine can help you focus on strengthening the abdominal muscles and muscles that support the pelvis.
Have you noticed any back pain while performing your plank exercise routine? Back pain, while you are in the plank position, is usually an indication that you aren’t properly performing a plank. When done properly, you shouldn’t feel any pain. Do make sure that you are using proper form that is mentioned in the section above or you can watch the YouTube video within the post.
No Equipment Needed For a Planking Exercise Routine
The great thing about doing plank exercise routine it doesn’t require any fancy equipment, even if you are traveling or at work during your lunch break. If you have hardwood floors at home, we suggest using a yoga mat or interlocking puzzle floor mats such as the ones below.
No Huge Time Commitment
Most people complain that they don’t have time to work out but there are several exercise programs that don’t require a huge time commitment to be effective. Planks are just one option and you can do a full circuit in 15 minutes are less.
Plank Exercise Routine Builds Strong Abs
Planks are one of the only bodyweight exercises that target all three major abdominal muscles at once. Each of the three major abdominal muscles serves their own unique purpose; however, they all work together to help improve your daily activities.
- Transverse abdominis: provides pelvic support and stability, rotation, flexion, helps control breathing, provides pressure for bodily functions, and stabilizes your spine when you do squats or deadlifts in the gym.
- Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping, you can get the six pack look when you are lean and have low body fat, helps with respiration, controls the pelvic tilt during contraction, allows the lower limbs to work properly by stabilizing the pelvis, provides tension on the abdominal wall, helps stabilize the vertical spine, and provides support when flexing the spine forward (leaning forward).
- Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting.
Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned gym rat, adding plank exercise routine to your fitness goals is important. Planks are great because you don’t need any fancy equipment to do them and you can do them virtually anywhere including at the office. It is a great way to keep your core muscles strong and prevent back pain or injuries too.