If you are looking for a simple exercise that helps strengthen your core, tone your midsection and improve balance, posture and endurance, the humble plank should be your next move.
The plank looks deceptively easy. You basically get into the pushup position, either with arms straight or resting on your forearms. Keep your back straight, your pelvis tucked and your toes on the ground. Now, hold the position. Proper form is important, so it is a good idea to get the help of a coach to be sure you have it right.
Why Should I Do Planks?
Unlike sit ups and crunches, which can be stressful on the spine, planks engage a fuller range of muscles, helping to strengthen not only abdominal muscles, but also shoulders, neck, back and legs. It is simply a superior exercise that can increase your core strength, which will only benefit your overall workout.
What Kinds Of Plank Exercises Can I Try?
There are numerous variations on the plank, with varying levels of difficulty. The basic is arms and legs straight, knees off the ground. Here are five others to get you started. Aim to hold for thirty seconds at first and work up to one minute.
1. Modified Plank
If the standard plank is too difficult, you may want to start with a modified plank. Instead of keeping your legs straight, you may lower your knees to the ground. Hold this position for thirty seconds, rest and repeat. When you can hold the position for one minute, then start trying it with your knees off the ground.
2. Rocking Plank
Start with your basic plank, then slowly push yourself forward, so that your shoulders are past your hands. Then, move backwards, until your heels are past your toes. Be sure to maintain proper form and to go slowly. This will increase strength and balance.
3. Shoulder Touches
Again, start with the basic plank, then lift your left arm up and touch your right shoulder with your hand. Put your arm back down and repeat with the right arm. Be sure to keep your hips still!
4. Side Plank
Start in basic position, move feet together, lift one arm up to the ceiling. Hold and then switch sides.
5. Single Arm Plank
Start in forearm plank position, then lift your left arm, balancing now on one arm. Return to position and switch.
If you would like to increase strength, balance, endurance and lose weight, contact Ralph Roberts at the Downtown Athletic Club in Amarillo. Ralph is a personal trainer who has helped hundreds of people reach their goals. He can create a custom workout for you based on your current level of fitness.