FIT TIP: Plank Like A Pro
February 25, 2014 / Category: Fitness Advisor
Have you ever tried planking on top of a fridge? How about on a desk, a train or on top of a billboard sign? No? Neither have I. But we have all laughed at those crazy viral photos of “planking” in unique places. Although their form isn’t quite up to par, these plank daredevils are onto something – a plank is truly one of the best core exercises ever. No need to do endless crunches or break out expensive equipment: planking is an easy, all-terrain, effective exercise.
The Benefits of the Plank: We should start by thanking the plank for the plethora of benefits it offers. With this one move, you can improve your posture, reduce lower back pain, strengthen your core and increase your stability. Try to incorporate planks into your workout at least 3 times a week to reap the rewards.
A Head-To-Toe Move: If you’re in the market for a multi-tasking, muscle-sculpting move, the plank is it. This exercise does it all. Your abdominal and back muscles are the primary muscles targeted, but the shoulders, chest, glutes and legs will be feeling the burn, too. Trust us.
Perfect Your Plank Posture: The name “plank” is self explanatory when done properly; your body position should be straight, like a wooden plank. Start in the standard push-up position: face down, hands shoulder-width apart, directly below the shoulders. Balance on your toes and contract your abs.
Mix Up Your Moves: Once you can hold your plank for a minute or two with good form, it’s time to amp it up. For a balance challenge, lift one leg and the opposite arm, then hold. For increased intensity, jack your legs out and in for 30-second intervals. To really target the obliques, the side plank should be your new go-to. Lie on either side balancing on one arm with your legs straight and the top leg stacked directly above the bottom. Align your head with your spine and keep your hips up and your abs contracted.
Need a modification? No problem. Start on your knees if needed and work your way up to your toes. Try a forearm plank if a full arm plank is hard on your wrists.
Now that you’ve got the low-down on the plank, make it a daily habit. P.S. – The world record for planking was set by 71 year old Betty Lou of Wisconsin who held her full plank for 36 minutes and 58 seconds!*