Why should you add planks to your workout? It seems like trainers love to have us do planks and there seems to always be some type of plank challenge going on. Just go online to find people who can hold a plank for half a lifetime. Chris talked about using planks to help with strengthening the core in an earlier post. Planks are a great way to strengthen our bodies.
Add Planks to Your Workout
There are lots of reasons to add planks to your workout. I’ve listed five here but each of these reasons can lead to more benefits. Basically, if you add planks to your workout, you’re adding something that is quick and easy to do, well, easy as in you don’t need to do a lot of preparation or equipment for planks. They can still be quite the challenge.
Close to a Whole Body Workout
Doing a plank works your abs, your back, your shoulders, and your glutes. This is a great way to begin building strength in your core. Planks don’t put any pressure on your spine from folding up like you might get from crunches and sit ups so they also help to avoid injury.
A plank also works those side muscles such as the obligques.
Can Do Anywhere
Planks require no equipment. All you do is get into position and hold the plank as long as you can. You might use your phone to time the plank but you don’t even need that. I sometimes just count to approximate the number of seconds I’m holding.
Planks are great to do at the gym but also at home. Remember the idea of doing an exercise every time a commercial comes on? Think of planks for that. These are even a good choice for traveling because you can do this in a hotel room without making noise or having to carry any equipment.
Improves your posture
Because planks strengthen your core, especially your abdomen and lower back, it becomes easier to sit and stand with better posture.
Many of us struggle with posture problems because of sitting too much and having weak core muscles. Poor posture causes back pain, feet and leg pain, and lots of general misery.
Improves Your Stability and Balance
Having stronger core muscles have been shown to help people be able to do more of their daily functions and to prevent injury. Even elderly people are often advised to do planks.
Can Do Daily
Starting your workouts with a plank is a great way to wake up most of your muscles. If you’re going to be lifting weight, this is a good starting point. Of course, planks don’t have to be a warmup. You can just do them every day as a way to strengthen your body.
How to Perform a Plank
Get on the floor and get into a pushup position. Bend your elbows to 90° and use your forearms to support your weight. Make sure your elbows are directly beneath your shoulders. Your body should be a straight line from your head to your feet. Make sure your butt isn’t sticking too far up into the air and not sagging towards the ground. You need to squeeze your abs the whole time you’re planking.
Hold this position for as long as you can. You might start with 15 seconds and work your way up eventually to two minutes.
Some people hold the plank even longer but I’m not sure there’s a lot of value to that. Instead, put your knees down and take a rest and then repeat the plank.
If you can’t do a plank successfully, put your knees on the ground. Do a plank this way until you can lift your knees up. You’ll still get much of the advantages of doing a plank.
If getting on the floor and using your knees is too hard on your body, you can use a wall in the same way that people do wall push-ups. Move your feet away from the wall, place your hands shoulder height on the wall and hold your body up.
Straight arm planks
Instead of resting your weight on your forearms, hold your weight on straight arms. This increases the work on your arms and shoulders. It’s a good variation to do just to shake things up.
Hold a side plank for the same amount of time as the regular plank. Make sure to do both sides. This really helps strengthen the obliques, legs, and arms.
Hold your plank position and then basically move your legs out and then back to simulate a jumping jack. This takes some coordination.
Up and down planks
Move from resting your weight on your forearms to straight arms and then back again. This increases the effects on your whole body. It’s a challenging workout.
However you choose to do them, it’s a good decision to add planks to your workout. Let me know if you try them.