Last Updated on April 11, 2016 by Michael Brockbank
Although I was reluctant to try planking at first, it turned out to be one of my favorite exercises for the abs. It’s a simple exercise that can have some profound results when added to your regular routine. It does more than just slim down your tummy as it strengthens the core allowing you to do certain physical activities without grunting or straining.
Why You Would Want to Do a Plank
The constant flexing of your abs is where the work of the plank comes from. Any muscle can develop by keeping it tightened, and the purpose of a plank exercise is to keep them tummy as tight as possible for extended periods of time. This firms the abs while enhancing endurance and power.
Another reason why the plank is on my list of favorites is because it can be done virtually anywhere. Whether you’re at home and the weather is bad or jogging through the park, you can go into a plank position for a few quick sets. When I need an easy exercise while at work, I’ll drop to the floor in my office for a few 30-second sets. Since there is no movement, you can do a plank while wearing virtually any clothing. Just be mindful of when you sweat at the office.
Primarily, this workout puts effort on toning your abs by keeping the tummy flexed. However, it also contributes to strengthening a few other parts of the body as well. In a plank posture, you’ll feel it working on the:
- Lower back
Common Equipment Used
The plank doesn’t require any additional equipment other than your feet and elbows. It maybe better if you wear light clothing as you could easily work yourself into a sweat. Personally, I’ll wear shorts and a tank top and do a plank barefooted on my exercise mat – unless I’m at work.
Does It Have Potential to Help You Lose Weight?
Even though there isn’t constant movement, the plank can help you burn calories. It’s the process of keeping your muscles taught that gets the heart rate going. The more muscles are continuously flexed, the more oxygen is rushed to them. Although there are many other exercises that can burn calories faster, I like the plank as it contributed greatly to various other physical activities, such as getting my body off the floor.
What Can Be Added to this Exercise?
Planks can be modified in a variety of ways. The side plank is one of my favorite variations, which does the same thing for your obliques as it does for your abs. Some people will do a star, which is a side plank while lifting one of your legs up and out while reaching towards the ceiling with one of your arms. All variations have one thing in common: constant flexing of the core muscles.
How Often Do I Plank?
When it comes to core workouts, this one is in my top 10. I started off at 30 second intervals until I was able to set a personal record of just over two minutes. I would suggest starting off slow with lower time and work your way up over the weeks.
Although it may seem like you’re not doing much to build your core, the plank is deceptively productive. Over the course of a few weeks, you’ll being to feel the difference in certain activities. For myself, I was able to move into a sitting position from laying flat on the ground without effort – something I’ve never been able to do. It’s all about keeping your abs tight for a set duration of time. If your body begins to vibrate, don’t worry. This is natural and will go away over time.