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How to Do a Plank: 7 Plank Exercise

Plank Exercise

Plank Exercise

Plank exercise is a safe, challenging, and effective method of core conditioning. Variations of planks are used across many fitness disciplines, including Boot Camp Regimens, Yoga, Pilates, Barre, Crossfit, and many more. The benifits of plank exercise are numerous. They not only strengthen the abs but also entire core and many other muscle groups in the uppper and lower body.

What is The Core?

When many people think of core training, the first thing that often comes to mind is sculpting the “six pack,” so they focus primarily on training the rectus abdominis (the abs you see when you look in the mirror). In reality, your core is composed of many muscles in the abdomen, hips, back, butt, and legs, and it’s necessary to work all of these muscle groups to build a strong core.

THE CORE MUSCLES

RECTUS ABDOMINIS (1): This is the long, flat muscle that runs the length of the front of the
abdomen. The rectus abdominis assists with posture and is responsible for flexing the lumbar spine.

EXTERNAL OBLIQUE (2): This muscle is located along the sides and front of the abdomen and is the largest of the three flat abdominal muscles. The external oblique pulls the chest down to compress the abdominal area and is also important in rotating the trunk.

INTERNAL OBLIQUE (3): This muscle is located along the sides and front of the abdomen, below the external oblique and above the transverse abdominis. When this muscle is contracted, it is responsible for side bending and brings the rib cage closer to the hip. It also aids with trunk rotation.

TRANSVERSE ABDOMINIS (4): Located along the sides and front of the abdominal wall, beneath the internal oblique, this is the deepest layer of the abdominal muscles. It stabilizes the pelvis and the spine, but does not provide any movement.

ERECTOR SPINAE (5): This is a group of three muscles: the iliocostalis, longissimus, and spinalis. They run parallel to each other down the length of the vertebrae, from the sacrum to the neck. The function of the erector spinae is to extend the back (e.g., standing up from a bent-over position) and assist with side-to-side rotation.

HIP FLEXORS (6): This group of muscles is located along the front side of the body, from the abdomen through the top of the thigh. They include the psoas major, iliacus, rectus femoris, pectineus, and sartorius. The hip flexors are responsible for bringing the legs into flexion and in toward the trunk.

HIP ADDUCTORS (7): This group of muscles is located along the inner thigh and includes the adductor brevis, adductor longus, and adductor magnus. They are used in the adduction of the hips (e.g., crossing your legs) and to balance the pelvis while standing and walking.

GLUTEUS MAXIMUS (8): This muscle is located in the buttocks and is the strongest muscle in the human body. It is responsible for movement of the thigh and hip, and many everyday movements, including standing up, maintaining erect posture, and climbing stairs.

GLUTEUS MEDIUS AND GLUTEUS

MINIMUS (9): These muscles are located along the side of the hip and buttocks. They facilitate hip abduction and help stabilize the pelvis.

PIRIFORMIS (10): This muscle is located parallel to the gluteus medius and under the gluteus maximus. The function of the piriformis is to laterally rotate the hip.

HAMSTRINGS (11): This muscle group is located along the back of the thigh, starting at the bottom of the pelvis and ending at the lower leg below the knee joint. The group is composed of three muscles: semitendinosus, semimembranosus, and biceps femoris. The hamstrings are responsible for bending and extending at the knee. This muscle group plays an important part in activities such as running, jumping, walking, and more.

Benifits of A Strong Core

Think of your core as the trunk of a tree. A strong trunk is the main support system for all of the limbs and branches. When movement of the human body is initiated at the core and then travels to the extremities, this allows your biggest, strongest, and most stable muscles to do the bulk of the work.

BETTER POSTURE: A strong core is essential for good posture, and good posture has a multitude of benefits, ranging from improved breathing quality to better spinal health to projected confidence.

IMPROVED BALANCE AND STABILITY: Balance and stability are an important part of daily life and become even more of a focus as we age. A strong core promotes good balance and a stable, supported body.

STRONGER ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE: Whether you’re a runner or a football player, a strong core will enhance your body’s athletic ability, resulting in more strength, speed, and stability.

IMPROVED ABILITY TO PERFORM DAILY ACTIVITIES: One of the most basic benefits of
a strong core is feeling good in your day-to-day activities, such as running errands, doing yard work, playing with kids, and so on.

ENHANCED JOB PERFORMANCE: There is less discomfort associated with job-related activities when the core is strong, whether that is manual labor or sitting long hours at a desk.

LESS LOWER BACK PAIN: With a strong core, there is less stress and strain placed on the lower back. Think of it like giving yourself a stability belt around the center of the body that keeps all of the muscles and bones in place and functioning correctly.

How to Do a Plank

Benifits of Plank Exercises

STRENGTHEN THE CORE AND WORK UPPER AND LOWER BODY MUSCLES.

When you perform plan exercises, you work all of the muscles that make up your core and gain all of the benifits that come with building a strong core. As if that wasn’t enough, planks also work the following muscles:

UPPER BODY

  • Trapezius.
  • Rhomboid major and minor.
  • Rotator cuff.
  • Anterior, medical and posterior delts.
  • Pectorals.
  • Triceps.
  • Biceps.

LOWER BODY

  • Quadriceps
  • Gastrocnemius (calf muscle).

PREVENT MUSCLE IMBALANCES

It’s easy to develop muscle imbalances when only perforing abdominal exercises (such as sit-ups). Most people do not perform spinal and gluteal strengthening exercises to compensate for the abdominal work. Planks condition the front and back of the body simultaneously. When muscles are comparably developed on both sides of the body, the result is better posture, more spinal support, and less lower-back pain.

IMPROVE FUCTIONAL MOVEMENT

One of the best selling points for planks is their relevance when it comes to functional movement, which is essential movement to living life. Things such as squatting, bending, running, lifting, jumping, and throwing are all functional movements initiated in the core.

PROVIDE A SAFE AND EFFECTIVE ALTERNATIVE TO CRUNCHES AND SIT-UPS

While sit-ips are an important fuctional movement for daily life (for example, the ability to get out of bed every morning), they are not always the best core conditioning choice for everyone.

Crunches and sit-ups only work the muscles on the front side of the core, so it’s necessary to do back strengthening exercises as well. However, planks work the entire core, as well as many other muscles in the body.

Crunches and sit-ups can place pressure on the spine through the repetitive flexion and extention of the spine, and over time, this can become an issue. If you experience any discomfort with these movements, plank training can be useful substitue.

Furthermore, crunches and sit-ups are counterintuitive for those with ruptured, bulging, or slipped discs or other spinal injuries. Planks are a much safer alternative in those cases.

And finally, crunches and sit-ups can have negative effects on posture by promoting rounded shoulders. Plan exercises promote good posture.a

OFFER VERSATILE EXERCISE

The best thing about planks is that there are countless variation of the exercise, ranging from traditional and side plank variations to planks using external weights or unstable surfaces. There is a plank for every body and every fitness level. If one doesn’t work for you because of injury, body type, imbalance, or a lack of requisite strength, there are many other options. Entire workouts can be programmed around the plank.

Plank Variations

This part includes the most basic variations of the plank, which serve as the foundation for building core strength. These planks are performed  only with your own bodyweight.

The best thing about the planks featured in this part is that they require no special equipment and can be performed anywhere, (at the gym, at home, or as a travel workout).
There are many variations of these four planks, ranging from intermediate to advanced, so you won’t get bored with your core training.

Ready to put these planks into practice and build the strongest core of your life as you change the shape of your body? Get ready to feel the burn with these ten workouts that link together a series of planks. The workout range from beginner to advanced and are all around five minutes in duration.

WORKOUT 1: BEGINNER

The focus of this workout is to build up the amount of time you are able to stay in a full plank. As the 15-second holds get easier, start to increase the amount of time you are in the plank over the course of 1 minute. For example, start 15-seconds in the full plank hold, with five seconds rest and repeated three times, and then increase to 25-seconds in the full plank, with 5-seconds rest and repeated once. Continue to increase the plank hold time until you are able to hold a plank for a full minute.

WORKOUT 2: INTERMEDIATE

These variations are rep-based and add movement to the plank.

VARIATION ONE:

10 knee to chest planks, five on each leg.
10 twisted knee to chest planks.
10 mountain climber planks.
Repeat this set three times.

VARIATION TWO:

10 side plank with foot taps, ten on each leg.
5 side plank hip dips, five on each side.
10 side forearm stability ball planks, ten on each side.
Repeat this set three times.

VARIATION THREE:

10 forearm plank knee taps.
10 forearm plank hip drops, five on each side.
10 plank walks, high plank to forearm plank.
Repeat this set three times.

WORKOUT 3: ADVANCED

This advanced bodyweight workout features movement and single arm/leg balancing.

8 pulsing full planks, eight on each leg.
8 side planks with knee crunches, eight on each leg.
8 table crunch twists, eight on each leg.
8 push-up side planks, four on each side.
30-second rocking forearm plank.
8 dolphin plank push-ups.
Repeat this set three times.

WORKOUT 4: STABILITY BALL

This workout requires your stability ball, get ready for a curcuit-based workout that will challenge the core.

30-second stability ball forearm plank.
15-second stability ball balancing plank.
10 stability ball knee tucks.
15-second stability ball side forearm plank, 15-second on each side.
30-seocnd stability ball reserve plank.
Repeat this set three times.

WORKOUT 5: BOSU TRAINER

You’ll work with both sides of the BOSU trainer in this rep-themed workout that will have you moving and twisting.

10 BOSU plank walks.
15-second BOSU side forearm plank.
15-second on each side.
10 knee to chests from flipped BOSU full plank, five on each leg.
10 twisted knee to chest from flipped BOSU full plank, five on each leg.
Repeat this set three times.

WORKOUT 6: MEDICINE BALL

This medicine ball workout features a conbination of static and moving planks.

8 pushing leg lift medicine ball planks, eight on each leg.
30-second medicine ball plank hold.
8 medicine ball cheetah crunches, four on each leg.
8 rolling medicine ball planks, four on each side.
Repeat this set three times.

WORKOUT 7: WEIGHTS

Perform this set of short planks with weights to strenghten the core while also toning the entire body.

12 dumbbell plank rows, twelve on each arm.
12 dumbbell tricep kickbacks, twelve on each arm.
15-seconds weighted side plank, 15-seconds on each side.
12 stability ball chest progress.
12 stability ball overhead extensions.
Repeat this set three times.

You are only as strong as your core. As a personal trainer, i make core training a foundation for all my clients. You can’t get stronger or faster or better at anything without a strong core, and the planks is my go-to move because it’s so challenging and versatile. Don’t forget to share this article about Plank Exercise!

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