Planking is a type of isometric exercise that involves contracting the core muscle in a stationary resistance. Although the traditional planking position looks simple, it activates the abdominal muscles, the back muscles, and the shoulder muscles!
How to Perform a Plank
Planking has different variations, but the classic plank is still the best of all.
To perform a plank, go down on all fours and assume the classic push-up position. But instead of holding yourself down by laying your hands flat on the floor, prop your elbows directly under the shoulders. Keep the spine straight and push your body back into a straight line. Pull the abdominal muscles and squeeze the gluteal and thigh muscles as you maintain the position. Keep planking for 20 to 30 seconds.
The Benefits of Planking
Planking activates various muscle groups, but the pressure is strongest on the core. That’s why planking is one of the most effective abdominal workouts there are! Regular planking helps build powerful core and a sculpted midsection. The longer you hold the position, the harder the core muscles are activated.
Reduces Back Pain
Regular planking strengthens the back muscles and the core. A strong core helps reduce the pressure on the spine, effectively minimizing back pain. According to fitness experts, plank exercising requires very minimal movement while contracting all layers of the abdominal fascia. This is the secret to planking’s uncanny ability to diffuse back pain.
Planking is a great way to boost flexibility too! It activates the posterior muscle groups, which are muscles around the shoulders, collarbone, and shoulder blades. Planking helps strengthen the torso while keeping the muscles lean and flexible. It also tones the hamstrings and the arches of the feet.
Performing different variations of planking also helps target specific parts of the body. For instance, side planking helps shrink the waistline while stretching the midsection. Rocking planking stretches the midsection while building strength to the arms.
Improve Your Mood
Any type of exercise uplifts the mood and planking is no exception! Planking doesn’t just trigger the release of endorphins in the brain, it also relaxes the muscles. It diffuses strains from prolonged sitting and minimizes muscle stiffness. All these contribute to planking’s ability to uplift the mood!
Correct Posture and Improve Balance
Bad posture can cause the spine to lose its natural S-shape into a C-shape. Studies show that poor posture is one of the leading causes of spinal curvature. It can also cause back pain, inflamed joints, and instability.
An abnormally shaped spine can cause vertebral subluxations. Subluxations occur when the vertebrae become misaligned to the rest of the spine. Planking helps correct the shape of the spine and ease pressure from the back muscles. Performing a plank on a stability ball magnifies the positive effects of planking to the spine! Because planking activates all major muscle groups, you can stand and sit up straight with ease.
To test your own balance and strength, try performing a side plank with a raised leg. Start off in a classic plank position then lift your top leg and hold the position for a second before lowering the leg down. Switch to the other side.