Planking has become increasingly popular for core strengthening, and for good reason: it works – in large part because it engages multiple muscle groups simultaneously. What are some of the benefits you can expect from adding this exercise to your regular routine?
1. A Toned Belly Planking will help build your deep inner core muscles that lay the groundwork for that six-pack look. As your abdominal muscles become stronger, your mid-section will tighten. Keep in mind, however, that in order to really get “six-pack” abs, you have to shed fat. For men that would be a body fat of about 6 percent, and women around 9 percent, in order to achieve that classic six-pack. This is not necessarily healthy.
2.Reduce Back Pain Planks work for back pain because they strengthen your core, which has the pleasant “side effect” of reducing back pain. They also strengthen your back muscles, especially those in your upper back.
3.Flexibility While building strength, planks also increase flexibility in your posterior muscle groups. The muscles around your shoulders, collarbone, and shoulder blades will expand and stretch (an area that often receives little attention), as will your hamstrings and even the arches of your feet and your toes.If you do a side plank, you can also stretch out your sides (especially if you extend your arm up over your head in line with your body). To increase the stretching benefits, try a rocking plank – once in basic plank form, rock your body back and forth by moving your toes a few inches either way.
4.Improve Your Mood Virtually every exercise has the potential to give you a mood boost and planks are no exception. Planks are unique, however, in that they help stretch and ultimately relax muscles groups that often become stiff and tense from prolonged sitting. The tension release that planks provide is uplifting for your spirit.
5.Improve Your Balance and Posture To do a plank correctly, you must engage your abs to stay upright. Side planks or planks with extensions are particularly beneficial for building balance, as are planks performed on a stability ball. To test and strengthen your balance, try a side plank with a leg raise – get into side plank position, then lift your top leg and hold for one count. Lower it and repeat, then switch sides. In addition, planks work all the muscles you need to maintain proper posture, like your back, chest, shoulders, abs, and neck. If you do planks regularly, you’ll find you’re able to sit or stand up straighter with ease.
The front-facing plank engages the following upper and lower body areas: Abdominals, lower back, chest, shoulders, upper traps, and neck, biceps, triceps, Glutes, thighs, and calves. Side planking is particularly effective for training your obliques, which really helps stabilize your spine, while the reverse plank places the focus on your glutes, hamstrings, abs, and lower back.
To perform a side plank, start by lying down on your right side, keeping your legs straight. Next, raise yourself up on your right forearm; your body should form a straight, diagonal line from head to toe. Your hips and knees should be off the floor. You can rest your left hand on the floor in front of you for support, on your hip, or behind your head. Brace your abs and hold for one minute.
For the reverse plank, start out by sitting on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Place your palms on the floor, below your shoulders, squeeze your buttocks and thighs, and then push your body up into a reverse plank position. Alternatively, you can begin by placing your elbows rather than your hands on the floor, for a less dramatic lift. Again, keep your body in a straight diagonal line from shoulders to heels, making sure your hips are in line.
Always Remember to Plank!- xoxo Allison.