The benefits of planks are seemingly endless and it’s actually super easy to fit them into your everyday life or preexisting workouts. In this article, we will cite several reasons why daily planks are a good idea and even some interesting variations on this timeless favorite exercise.
When you try planks for the first time, you will instantly gain respect for this deceptively easy-looking exercise. Lie down on your stomach. Keeping your whole body in a straight line, raise your entire body 4-6 inches off the ground. Support your weight with your hands and your toes only. You can either rest your upper body on your forearms or for a more intense challenge, place your palms on the ground with your arms straight. Start by holding this position for 10 seconds at a time, working up to two minutes or even longer if you have superhuman powers. Remember to breathe, keep your core engaged, and do not let your shoulders or hips sag – keep everything straight as if there were a broomstick from the base of your neck to your ankles.
Daily Plank Benefits
There are many benefits to performing planks on a regular basis. Planks are the #1 way to strengthen and tighten your core muscle groups. Having a strong core not only gives you abs of steel, but also helps with any other type of exercise you might do such as running, yoga, swimming, or weight lifting. Many people assume that the core is abs only – not so. The core muscles include tranversus abdominis, internal and external obliques, and rectus abdominis. Planks even work your hamstrings and shoulders, as keeping proper form and balance while planking requires the constant engagement of all of these muscles. So not only does planking improve your overall physical fitness, it also increases your endurance both mentally and physically. You can easily see why doing planks on a daily basis would be very beneficial. What other exercise can you think of that does all this in two minutes a day or less?
So as not to get bored and to keep things interesting, you might want to try some of these plank variations. These are variations on the basic plank form; some of them add quite a bit of intensity to your plank while others simply work for different muscle groups. Here are three of our favorite plank variations:
- This variation is ideal for beginners. Don’t worry, it’s still challenging!
- Support your upper body on your forearms and instead of being on your toes, support your lower body on bent knees.
- Your core is still engaged, spine straight from your head and down through your hips.
- This variation is a bit easier on the back and works the glutes and hamstrings less.
- As a beginner, start by holding this variation for 10 seconds, take a brief rest (30 seconds), and return to the plank for another 10 seconds.
- If you are adding this to your daily workout, do three sets of 10 seconds and you will have warmed up your shoulders and upper back very nicely.
- Level 2 is the basic plank, resting on your forearms or with arms in a pushup position, elbows close to the body.
- Another arm variation is to have completely straight arms, palms on the ground, with your lower body supported on your toes.
- The key to any variation is keeping your core engaged and your body as straight as possible.
- To do a level 3 plank, get into the basic plank pose, then raise one of your legs off the ground.
- Keep the raised leg straight and your leg muscles engaged.
- Pointing your toe helps keep the leg muscles engaged.
- Lifting your leg, or arm or removing any point of contact off the ground intensifies the plank.
- If you really want to challenge yourself, try lifting your left arm and your right leg off the ground simultaneously!
Doing planks of any variation every day will give you some pretty amazing results. Your posture will improve, your abs will be tighter, your ability to stay balanced, and your overall level of fitness will increase. You will notice that other exercises in your normal workout regimen will start to feel easier as you get stronger through your core. Your endurance will also improve, giving you an advantage in the gym, on the court, or on the playing field. If you’ve never planked before, now is the perfect time to give it a try. We promise you won’t be disappointed!
- Peak Fitness by Mercola: Benefits of Plank Exercises
- Livestrong.com: What Does the Plank Exercise Benefit?
- Fitness Republic: What Does the Plank Do?
About the Author: KELLEY HARAUGHTY