Planking is one of the best exercises that you can do, and there are many more benefits than you might first imagine. Let’s look at 3 great reasons why it makes sense for you to schedule some plank-time into your exercise routine.
Simply put, planking is one of the best ways to tone your core and get better looking, stronger, leaner abs! When you stabilize your body in a plank, you are engaging multiple levels of the abdominal muscles. Whether you add movement or not, a static plank forces your core muscles to act as stabilizers and consequently gives your entire abdominal region a great workout!
Planks can help prevent injury! Holding a plank is in essence practicing balance and stability. Your core is the center or your body, and when it is strong you are more able to make necessary adjustments in unstable circumstances. Think about something as simple as slipping on a banana peel or a wet floor. If you don’t have a strong core, there is a good chance that you will fall down and possibly hurt yourself. On the other hand, when your core is strong, you are able to recruit more muscles to help self-adjust and maintain more balance and control. This does not mean that you will never slip or get injured. It simply means that your chances of staying upright when you step on an unstable surface are greatly increased when your core is strong.
Finally, planks help promote good posture. Planking is virtually a full-body workout. When you hold the plank position correctly, you are not only engaging the abs but also the back, shoulders, neck, chest, hamstrings, glutes and even calves. That’s a lot of muscles! Planks force all of these muscles to work together as a functional movement to balance the body and therefore improve your posture. If you do planks regularly, you might even find your shoulders will carry less tension and your mood can even improve!
Try this great 30 minute plank workout 3-5 times a week. There is no equipment needed, just you and the floor, so you can do this workout anywhere – even while you are vacation!
(Do each move for 1 minute, 20 seconds rest between each for a total of 3 rounds)
1. Static Hold: Plank Position: Place hands directly under shoulders & extend legs until you are supported by your feet and hands in a prone position. Tuck your buttocks and squeeze your belly into the spine with full engagement of the body. There should be a straight line from your head to your feet (no sagging, no piking).
2. Alternating Leg Lifts: From plank position, fully engage body & lift left leg straight up until it is parallel with the ground. Be careful not to arch your back & lose the ab engagement. Lower leg to floor & alternate to right leg. Continue alternating while keeping hips squared to the ground & buttocks squeezed throughout the transitions.
3. Internal Crunch: From plank position, raise right leg back parallel to ground, then crunch internally to bring right knee to left elbow under the body. Squeeze your internal obliques & exhale as you crunch. Return to plank & repeat left leg. Continue alternating.
4. External Crunch: From plank position, raise right leg back parallel to ground, then crunch externally to bring right knee to meet your right elbow in a side crunch as you exhale. Return to plank & repeat with left leg. Continue alternating.
5. Extensions: From plank position, extend right arm & left leg parallel to ground, keeping hips square. Exhale and contract abs to bring right hand and left knee together under the body. Extend back to horizontal position & repeat with left arm & right leg. Continue alternating.
(Do each move for 1 min, rest 20 seconds between each for a total of 2 rounds)
6. Static Hold: Side Plank Position: Place right hand directly under right shoulder to stabilize. Stack left foot on top of right & raise hips up off ground making a straight line with your body. Stay here for a modified move, or challenge yourself to lift the left leg up until your are in a star position. Hold 1 minute & repeat on the other side.
7. Hip Raise: From side plank, exhale & contract abs to raise hips up as high as you can off the ground, keeping legs straight and maintaining full body engagement. Then lower hips back to the ground until the hips touch the ground. Repeat for 1 minute and then do the same on the other side.
8. Side Twist: From side plank with right arm extended straight to the sky, slowly bring right hand down while contracting your abs and twist the reach until your hand is underneath your torso. Keep your hips high and your abs contracted throughout this movement as you rotate. Return to starting position & repeat for 1 minute before alternating the other side.
Always remember to consult with a professional before starting any exercise or nutrition program to ensure that you follow the best nutrition and exercise program for you.
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