The plank is an isometric core exercise that involves you maintaining your body in a straight line. This exercise recruits many muscle groups at the same time, and it is effective for strengthening your core, whilst simultaneously working your shoulders, arms, and glutes. This exercise is used in this name because, when done correctly your body straightens and remains rigid, much like a plank of wood.
According to research, a strong core is important for resisting spinal perturbations and transferring power across the extremities during physical activity. Moreover, a stronger core can considerably decrease the occurrence of lower-back injuries, along with developing athletic performance and trunk stability.
When holding a plank you are balancing your body on your forearms, and toes, the majority of the work in a plank is done by your core. The primary muscles worked are the abdominals, and obliques. The secondary muscles worked are the anterior deltoids, serratus anterior, trapezius, rhomboids, and glutes.
The Plank is a beginner’s level exercise and is a great accessory to your training routine as they don’t require any equipment and are quick to carry out. Getting into the plank position is relatively easy, and there are many challenging variations for those who find this exercise easy!
You should move on to harder variations once you have achieved your reps and set goals.
It is highly recommended that you superset this with up to 5 exercises to create a core circuit. This will allow you to target your abs from every direction and further develop your core strength. Your functional strength will not only improve but also your core definition will develop and sculpt up into a set of solid 6-pack abs. An example core circuit would be:
In a single set, there will be 5 exercises that you will complete. Rest 60-90 seconds in between sets, and perform this circuit for 5 sets, 3 times a week. Moreover, you can choose different core exercises to be practiced in your circuits to keep your workout fun and interesting!
A bad posture is when we have slumped and rounded shoulders. This occurs because of poor alignment and sitting for a long period of time! Planks will work your core and your whole body, it strengthens your spine, rhomboids, trapezius, and your abdominal muscles, which keeps your posture strong. A good posture will prevent your body from developing injuries and will improve your confidence and serenity.
According to Cleaveland Clinic, planking can help keep your lower back in a position where you're standing or sitting up straighter. This will help you to look taller, increase your energy, and give you greater confidence.
Your body utilizes its core muscles to assist in sustaining balance. The majority of the stabilization comes from your core. Having a strong core could help you avoid injuries to muscle groups that are over-exerted during swift movements. For example, our core muscles are responsible for helping us balance whilst dribbling the ball past opponents in basketball. A strong core will reduce the risk of us falling in sudden movements.
Planks are great for targeting your midsection as they engage all the core muscle groups, such as the transverse abdominis, rectus abdominis, and obliques. If it is superset with other core exercises, supplemented with a controlled diet, and regular cardio exercise, you will see your abs chiseled and sculpted. According to PubMed, the front plank with a brace can be considered the most effective exercise in activating the external obliques.
The knee plank is the most basic form of all plank variation. Instead of being on your toes, you will form a plank on your knees which takes the load off your core, which makes this exercise much easier to perform. You can perform this either in an elbow plank, or a high plank. To do this, you will:
The side plank primarily works on your core, especially the obliques. You will rest your body weight on one side with your feet stacked on top of each other, whilst maintaining a rigid body. There are three variations within the side plank. To perform this, you will:
Reverse planks target your abdominal muscles, such as the rectus abdominis, also known as the “6 pack muscle”. It also works the glutes. This is a beginners level exercise that would be a great addition to your core routine. It is highly recommended that you include this in your circuit. To perform this, you will:
This is an advanced-level plank exercise that is performed once you are comfortable with bodyweight planks, or generally when you reach a plateau and are in demand for greater difficulty. This will increase the load on your core, forcing you to contract it to prevent your body from toppling over. To perform this you will:
The extended plank is one of the most challenging plank variations out there. It requires you to extend your arms out in front of your shoulders, and the further the distance, the more difficult it will be. This exercise is a progression toward the superman push-up. To perform this, you will:
The wide-leg plank is an easy variation that can help you tone your core while developing your stability and balance. The wide leg stance reduces the difficulty of the exercises while still engaging the lower body muscles
Now that you know how to do the plank, brace yourself for some killer abs! A stronger core will improve your athletic strength and functional strength in everyday activities. The plank is a simple exercise that can be learned by anyone and it should be an integral part of your workout routine. Want more core exercise ideas in your workouts? Check out these exercises:
My name is Pat Chadwick, I am a calisthenics coach with over 4 years of experience in helping people from all backgrounds to achieve their calisthenics goals. My goal is to become the number one calisthenics coach in the world as it is my passion to help people change their lives through inspiring bodyweight movements. I believe everyone deserves the right to feel good about their health, body, and be delighted inside and out.