The art of planking
You are probably wondering what the craze is all about regarding this great exercise, well wonder no more!
It is a strength training exercise so one of the key benefits is obviously to improve your strength in various areas. If we start at the front, the first muscle being worked is your neck. In order to hold this plank position correctly you must keep your neck straight and not bending down. By keeping it straight you are working major muscle groups in your neck called the traps, this helps your posture especially if you spend a lot of time sitting at desk as it helps support your neck.
Moving along the neck, the next muscle group you will notice being used are your shoulders. Performing the plank will also strengthen your shoulder muscles over time and thus improving the performance of your press ups as it uses similar muscle groups.
Holding the shoulders up are the biceps, merely performing the plank will help build and tone your biceps as you are using your biceps to keep your upper body weight off the ground.
Right so that covers your upper body workout. Now if we travel along the body, the next muscle group we hit is your chest.
Then we come to the major muscle group being worked, the abs. Strong abs are vital not only for sport but also for good posture. This exercise will also strengthen your abs and as a result tone them, giving them a much more streamline look.
The muscle groups to the opposite side of the abs are your lower back muscles. These too play a vital role in keeping you in the plank position but also provide other key health benefits which are described further down.
The next muscle groups we come to are the ones located in your bottom, yes these too are strengthened! From there you have the thighs and finally the calf muscles.
So as you can see, the plank provides strength benefits to many muscle groups all at the same time.
There’s never any harm in a little competition in yourself for the greater good. However, as it requires focus in order to keep holding the plank for as long as possible, it mentally builds on your concentration skills while trying to achieve a goal.
These muscle groups can get stressed during the day when sitting at your desk, however to release the tension from them, holding a plank position can be the ideal solution to help relieve these tense muscles.
Start with 20 seconds at a time with 3 reps in the morning. Other planking positions may include:
- Keep your forearms on the floor with your elbows beneath your shoulders for a low plank.
- Keep your knees on the floor for the half plank.
- Turn to your side and lift your upper body with your arm, one hand on the floor and straightening your arm to support your weight, and the other arm straight to your side.
- When on your side, lift your upper body with your arm to support your weight, one arm bent at a 90 degree angle with your elbow and forearm on the floor. Your elbow and shoulder should be aligned, and the other arm straight to your side.
- You can lift your top leg when doing the side plank position.
- When doing the low plank, lift one foot off the floor for a few seconds and alternate to the other foot.
Like with any form of exercise, you will still need to have consistency, a balanced diet and carryout other forms of cardio vascular exercise to complement your plank exercise for the best results.