Can we just take a moment to all hail the mighty plank? Planks don’t receive nearly enough credit for just how great they can be to support strength and definition. While there are plenty of exercises that target your butt and abs, nothing performs quite as well as the plank.
The best thing about planks is that you don’t need any fancy gym equipment or a luxury personal trainer. All you need is yourself, although some kickass music in the background doesn’t hurt either! And, once you’ve nailed the perfect plank form (think tight abs, booty down, forearms and hands locked directly under shoulders), it’s time to amp up the burn with endless plank variations.
All you have to do is hold the plank for as long as you can to strengthen all kinds of muscles. Of course, anything over 20 seconds is a bit of an arm-shaking, core-crippling ordeal. But, as they say, no pain no gain!
So as your arms and core are shaking, think about why you started, and what your results will look like. With some commitment and a little grit, planks can leave you with some serious results before you know it.
3 Reasons Why You Need to Drop & Plank Every Day
If planks aren’t a regular part of your fitness routine, here’s your nudge to fit them in. Planks can help support a stable core, promote strength, and of course, define those abs of steel and obliques we are all after.
Here are three reasons why adding the mighty plank to your fitness routine can be a total fitness game changer.
#1 Planking defines your core and sculpts your body
If you want a super defined core and an exercise that can help sculpt your entire body, stop what you’re doing, and drop down into plank mode! Doing planks regularly can help wake up your muscles (we’re talking obliques and the abdominal wall) to build a rock solid and defined core. Not only do we all dream of tight and defined abs, but a strong core has limitless benefits (keep reading to learn more.) Plus, with ab muscles on point, you might just start to feel even more confident in your bikini come summertime.
#2 Planking improves performance, posture, and balance
A strong core doesn’t just make you look more toned. It also helps with balance and can help boost exercise performance and endurance. With a strong core, you’ll be able to run that extra mile, dance that much longer, or hold that yoga pose with poise. Hey, you may even notice you kick your FitOn exercises up a notch and burn a few extra calories each time you show up to class.
#3 Planking reduces the risk of injury in the spinal column and back
Let’s face it, the majority of us spend far too much time sitting all day. Between sitting at a computer desk at work and long commute times, we may be spending upwards of twelve hours a day sitting on our rear ends. This can put a massive strain on the back and spine, especially when paired with poor posture. This is where welcoming planks into your fitness routine can drastically help take stress off your spine. Plus, you can do that all while building strength around your core to help support your back muscles.
Everything you need to know to do a proper plank
Quality is key, and while many of us get caught up in how long we can hold a plank, it really all comes down to how long you can hold a proper plank. If you hold a plank with poor form for three minutes, it’s not going to be nearly as effective as holding a proper plank for 30 seconds. So, don’t get so caught up on time, it’s important to focus more on proper form here.
With proper form, you should be working up a sweat in a short amount of time, because let’s face it, planks are darn hard.
Need a little visual guide to help you get the perfect plank? Here’s how to perfect your plank.
Plant your elbows below your shoulders as if you were pushing away from the floor. Your body should be in a straight line. Keep your hips lifted and pretend you’re holding a pencil between your butt cheeks. That’s right, give them a good ole clench! Maintain upper back tension and flex those abs.
Common Plank Mistakes to Avoid
Planks are a super simple exercise but getting the correct form is easier said than done. Avoid common mistakes that make planks less effective like:
- Dropping your head and neck
- Tilting your hips
- Forgetting to tighten your abs
- Not squeezing your butt
- Having your hands too far apart
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that planks are awesome. They are an equipment-free exercise we can all do right in the comfort of our own home without having to hit the gym, and they work the whole body. And remember, that while holding a three-minute plank may seem like a massive accomplishment, if a 20-second plank leaves you a quivering, chances are you are hitting all the muscle groups you need to start building some serious definition and are doing so with the form it takes to see results.
So, whether you can hold a plank for seconds or minutes, don’t sweat it. Everyone is different, and it’s 100% ok to work toward your personal best plank time at your own speed.
Ready to take your plank workout to the next level? Try the Sexy Arms & Abs FitOn challenge to tone your upper half and leave your abs on fire.