Plank Exercise

Plank Exercise

How and Why to Practice the
Plank Exercise

If you are not familiar with “the plank”, it is a great isometric exercise to build your abdominal core, including the abs, obliques (love handles), lower back and the muscles that stabilize the back. And the best part, it does not require any equipment so it can be done almost anywhere, making it a great exercise to perform when away from home.

The Basic Plank

 

Start
by lying face down on the floor. First raise up onto your toes and then rest
the front part of your body on your elbows. Basic form should be arms directly
beneath your shoulders with your feet hip-width apart. If either is
uncomfortable, experiment by moving your arms closer or farther apart or
further ahead or back. The same with your feet. Try a wider or narrower stance
until you find the position most comfortable.

 

Next,
while keeping your back flat, keep your body in a straight line from your head
to your heels. Contract your abs by pulling your belly button up toward your
spine to ensure you keep that “flat as a plank” straight line and hold in that
position for a designated time or until your body begins to shake.

 

Finish
by lowering your body down to the starting position. As you do more and more
planks, you’ll notice that you will be able to hold in the plank position
longer and it will continue to increase as your abdominal core gets stronger.
Not only will a strong core better support your back, it will give you better
posture.

 

Plank Variations

 

While
the basic face-down bridge plank position is the standard, there are a number
of variations to it. One popular move to target your obliques is the side
plank.

 

Start
by lying on your side with your body weight supported on one forearm. Keep your
body in a straight line from your upper shoulder to your feet. Rest your free
arm on your hip. Hold for 3 seconds keeping your core tight. Be sure to switch
sides so each set of muscles worked doing this exercise are equally stressed.  Otherwise with one set stronger than the
other, you could be at an increased risk for an injury.

 

Other
variations to the basic face-down plank include supporting yourself on both
feet, but raising one arm or supporting yourself on both arms, but raising one
leg. Hold each position for 3 seconds.

 

As
your abdominal core gets stronger, you’ll be able to hold each position longer.
Experts generally agree that the plank is a much better exercise to strengthen
your abdominal core than crunches, plus there is less risk of damaging your spinal
column.

 

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By Rod Stone
Author and Publisher of Healthy Living information and products to improve your life.