There’s a strong chance that you’ll perform planks at some point during the workout, whether you’re working out in a group fitness class or at home with a DVD. The hardest exercise for your entire body, not just your core, is the plank. They serve as the foundation for many bodyweight exercises like push-ups and burpees because of this.
According to Nicole Blades, a NASM-certified trainer at BodyRoc FitLab in Connecticut, “the plank is one of those jack-of-all-trades exercises you can carry in your back pocket to develop not only your core, but also your chest, arms, back, legs, and booty.” “A plank performed correctly can also help to enhance your posture. The best part is that there is no equipment needed for this dynamic motion. It is a full-body exercise.
What muscles do planks specifically target?
You must support your weight on your arms and toes whether you are in a low plank or a high plank. According to Blades, this specifically targets the rectus and transverse abdominis muscles. The front muscles of the abdomen, known as the rectus abdominis, support the muscles of the spine and support the organs in the abdomen region. They give your abdominal structure and definition, which is why they are referred to as the “six-pack muscles.”
Transverse abdominis (TVA) muscles, on the other hand, are referred to as “corseting muscles” because they tighten the waist and serve as core stabilisers that support the low back. In fact, lower back pain is frequently brought on by a weak TVA.
According to Blades, “planks also target the serratus anterior (the serrated-shaped muscles that wrap around the side of your chest and shoulder) and pectorals (chest), as well as the trapezius and rhomboid muscles (upper back muscles) in your back.”
You can keep a plank position for a longer period of time when your upper body muscles are active. When you tighten your finger and hand grips on the floor while performing a plank, your shoulders and back muscles will be more activated. Maintaining a neutral spine can also help your neck feel better and make holding a plank less painful.
But core includes your hips and low back, too.
People frequently just consider their abs when thinking about their core, but your hips and low back are also part of this powerhouse. The quads (front of the thighs), glutes, and calf muscles in your lower body are worked by a firm plank, according to Blades.
In actuality, your hips significantly contribute to the strength of your planks. Engaging your lower abs, also known as the lower section of your rectus abdominis, will help you maintain the position with good form for a longer period of time. One thing that many fitness beginners frequently forget to do is that when you tighten your hips, you’re also able to brace your core more and keep your low back raised.
How to do a proper plank
There are many different ways to achieve the perfect plank, but here’s a step-by-step breakdown on how to do a high plank.
- Get into a tabletop position with your shoulders directly over your wrists and hips in line with your knees.
- Engaging your abs, shoulders, back, and glutes, extend your legs back to straighten into a plank and hold.
- If you can, do the exercise in front of a mirror, to check that your butt isn’t raised. (A common mistake, but your body should be flat as opposed to an upside down-V shape.)
How long should you hold a plank?
Planks should be held for 15 seconds at first, then 30, 45, 60, and so on. Blades advises setting a timer as opposed to keeping an eye on the time. In this manner, you avoid carefully counting down the passing seconds. Don’t forget to breathe deeply both when you’re inhaling and exhaling.
You can assist calm your mind during the discomfort by paying attention to your breath.
Blades advises, “Practice, practise, practise.” The longer you can hold the exercise, the more strength and endurance you will develop by doing it. When you feel like giving up, force yourself to hold the plank position for a few more seconds. You can achieve it!