Truth be told, planking looks very easy. It looks like everyone can do it effortlessly but trust me guys; it’s one endearing exercise. Basic planking requires no workout equipment, you can do it anywhere and everywhere, in groups or even alone in your room and its one of the few exercises that utilizes the whole body muscles.
But what are the major benefits of planking? Well this article will show us all the basic advantages and benefits of planking.
1. YOUR CORE STRENGTH WILL IMPROVE
One advantage of planking regularly is that your core becomes strong (your core is the muscles, bones and joint that link your upper and lower body). The core needs to be engaged daily because everything that we do is regulated by your core ie. lifting, bending, reaching.
When core strength improves, everyday tasks become easier, we feel stronger and our athletic ability improves.
2. YOU’LL TONE UP THAT TUMMY
Crunches and sit ups used to be the best way to tone your tummy. But sorry, its bot as effective as planking. Also regular crunches’ and sit ups have been known to cause back pain.
Now, planking is the new wave of training. A recent study shows that planks gives 100% of activation for six packs while crunches give only 64%.
Regular plank practice means your abdominal muscles will become stronger, and will tighten up. Plus, you’ll be toning other areas of your body too, giving you the sexy body you have always wanted.
3. YOU’LL STRENGTHEN YOUR BACK
While some exercises to work the core can actually weaken and potentially injure the back (such as sit-ups or crunches), the plank will actually help to strengthen it. In particular, the upper back muscles become stronger.
Because the plank exercise requires minimal movement while contracting all layers of the abdominal muscles, it is an excellent way to strengthen the core, which, in turn, helps reduce low-back pain.
4. YOU MAY ENJOY INCREASED METABOLISM AND FAT BURN
While doing a quick plank or two won’t burn as much fat as cardiovascular exercises, it’s a more efficient way of burning fat. When you engage in strength training, your metabolic rate increases even after you’ve stopped exercising…something that doesn’t happen with cardiovascular activity.
For every pound of muscle you gain, your body burns around 50 calories more per day. So, if you gain 10 pounds of muscle, you can burn up to 500 more calories per day than you did when you were weaker.
5. YOU’LL INCREASE FLEXIBILITY AND LOWER YOUR RISK OF INJURY
Functional exercises that increase flexibility should be part of any well-rounded workout plan.
Performing certain simple exercises daily, including the plank, can offset some of the natural loss of elasticity of the muscles, tendons and ligaments that comes with age. It can be an especially useful tool for those who sit at a desk all day.
Planks work to increase or maintain flexibility by expanding and stretching the muscles around the shoulders, collarbone, shoulder blades, hamstrings and even the arches of the feet and toes.
To really limber up, consider adding in some side planks to your workout regimen. These stretch out the oblique muscles, particularly if you extend your arm up over your head in line with your body.
6. YOU’LL ENJOY BETTER BONE AND JOINT HEALTH
Physical activity doesn’t just keep our heart healthy and our muscles toned – it’s vital for strong bones and supple joints.
In particular, weight-bearing exercises are key for bone health. These types of activities put stress on the bones attached to our muscles, stimulating them to rebuild themselves. Supporting your own body weight – as you do with the plank movement – is a fantastic weight bearing exercise which won’t see you overdo it.
7. YOUR POSTURE AND BALANCE WILL IMPROVE
Doing planks greatly improves both your posture and balance and, when carried out regularly, helps you to sit or stand up straighter with ease.
Strengthening the core muscle groups leads to better posture as the stomach and back muscles have a huge impact on the other muscle groups in the body (why they are known as ‘the core’!). Planks also help prevent or reverse postural deficiencies, including lordosis and posterior pelvic tilt which result from weakness in the abdomen or hip flexors respectively.
Side planks or planks with extensions are particularly beneficial for building balance, as are planks performed on a stability ball.
8. EVERYDAY TASKS WILL BECOME EASIER
Planks are classed as a ‘functional exercise’ because the benefits they bring translate into ‘real-world’ activities – just one of the reasons why i personally advocate replacing the sit-up with the plank.
When undertaken regularly, planking sessions make real life tasks easier because they don’t focus on single muscles, but are designed to utilize several groups of muscles all at once – exactly how our body is designed to function.
As you lose fat, build muscle and strength; improve flexibility, bone and joint health; and enjoy increased mobility and balance you should notice things like shopping, cleaning, decorating and gardening all require much less physical exertion!
9. YOU’LL BE HAPPIER AND LESS STRESSED
Like most other exercises, planks can lift your spirits (and raise your energy levels).
Desk workers in particular should take note of the plank’s benefits for their mood – these poses help to stretch and relax the muscles in the neck, shoulders and back that often become stiff and tense from prolonged sitting.
Even yoga instructors recommends plank exercises for stress reduction, as they are said to help calm the brain.
At least one scientific study has found strength training to be beneficial for relieving the symptoms of depression. Some fitness experts say that weight-bearing exercises may boost mood as strengthening the core gives you an overall sense of strength.
10. YOU’LL GET HOOKED!
Once you start planking every day and see the benefits to your body, you won’t be able to stop!
By continuing to challenge yourself – increasing the duration or the type of pose – you’ll never get bored by the plank.
Consider adding in extra moves to your planking routine like crunches or jumping jacks and make good use of equipment like stability balls, weights and resistance bands – the possibilities to challenge and improve your fitness levels and planking abilities are endless!
HOW TO DO A PLANK CORRECTLY:
To perform a basic plank, you should:
- Get into a press up position. Bend your elbows and rest your weight on your forearms.
- Your body should form a straight line from shoulders to ankles. Make sure your hips, head and shoulders don’t drop.
- Engage your core by pulling your belly into your spine.
- Hold this position for 15 to 60 seconds depending on what you are able for. Remember, it’s better to maintain proper form for a shorter period of time than to hold improper form for a long time. Eventually, you can work up to holding for longer periods.
- Rest for approximately one minute and repeat three to five more times.
Author: Akwesi Osei
An avid reader and writer who has written articles for HypeNationGh, LoudsoundGh and akwesiosei.wordpress.com.
Currently the blogger and owner of The Health Bro