Is it time to perfect your plank and take it to the next level?
Why do I love the plank so much? Well it’s incredibly affective at strengthening your entire core, working the muscles that provide support for your whole body. The plank helps to reduce back pain, improve your posture and burns more calories than sit-ups or crunches because it uses the legs, arms and bum too!
The Basic Plank
You need to get the basics right before you can move on to more complicated planks – the forearm plank is considered the standard exercise. To get it right, lie face down with your legs extended and elbows bent directly under your shoulders and your hands clasped together. Your feet should be hip-width apart and your elbows should be shoulder-width apart. Pull your tummy button towards your spine and tuck your toes under to lift your body with your forearms still on the mat. You should be in a straight line from head to heels. Hold for 60 seconds or as long as you can.
The length of time you should hold a plank can vary from 10 seconds to a minute. What matters most is being able to hold your form. As soon as you start to sag in the middle or your bum rises up, you’ve hit your limit. Take a rest and try for a bit longer the next time.
Shorter planks are still an effective exercise. Holding a plank for 10 seconds, relaxing for 5 or 10 seconds, then re-engaging for 10 seconds is great, especially if you can repeat this a few times. Forcing yourself to hold a plank for longer than you can manage puts a strain on your lower back and this might put you at risk of injury.
Progress Your Plank
If you can easily plank for a minute, you can increase the difficulty by contracting your abs more, whilst squeezing your glutes and quads too.
There are lots of twists to the basic plank move that will challenge your body further – from the straight arm plank to the plank with leg/arm lifts and the caterpillar plank – variations to work every muscle group.
So there’s really no excuse – for just a few minutes a day you can tone your tummy, improve your posture, strengthen your back and firm your buttocks! What more could you want!
Talk to me about anything plank – from the basics to complicated variations.