Plank is a functional exercise which activates your core. Done correctly it can help in re-alignment of your body, proper posture, increase stability and even endurance and strength. It is an exercise that can be done anywhere, without any equipment and every day. I love the plank and I make sure I integrate it in my workout, every day.
You must try the plank every day and see the difference. Even if you start off at a 30 sec plank but try and do it thrice a day there will be a noticeable difference in a fortnight. You will actually feel the tightening of your stomach muscles and your posture improving. The right way of doing the plank is in 3 easy steps:
1. Hold your body in a push up position with your elbows bent at a 90* angle just below your shoulders.
2. Your belly button should be drawn towards your spine whilst keeping your back straight, but don’t hold your breath. Breathe easy.
3. Your head should be in alignment with your back, eyes to the floor.
The benefits of a plank are only when done right, so don’t push yourself when you find your stomach sagging, or your lower back curving down. Relax, do it the next time.
The plank activates your entire body along with your core. It stretches your hamstrings and calves, arches of your feet and toes. It extends the muscles on your shoulders and arms and elongates the spine. Holding your belly in, strengthens the core muscles, along with the obliques that are also responsible for your posture remaining straight. Maintaining an erect stance helps alleviate back pain, sciatica as well as aesthetically makes you look taller. The glutes are activated too, giving them a tighter appearance.
The basic plank is easy to achieve for most people. Having a challenge always initiates better response from the body. So to take this exercise further, one can add various variations to the plank.
1. The side plank
2. Plank with toe taps
3. Side plank with leg raise
4. Side plank with hip dips
5. Spiderman plank
6. Superman plank
The variations one can achieve with the plank doesn’t end here. One can also use various gym equipment to take the plank a notch higher. Planking using the swissball, the bosuball or the black roll can all be a challenge in itself.
The only word of caution here is to make sure your plank posture is correct. Belly tucked in (held tight), back straight in neutral position in alignment with your neck and continue breathing normally. Since it is an exercise which defines the core, it is prohibited for pregnant women but an ideal one to begin with post-delivery.
So plank it and share the variations you try, share your progress, learn a few and teach a few.