What is a plank?
A plank is a core exercise done, either by balancing on your forearms or on your hands.
For beginners, it might be easier to start with a low forearm plank or a modification of it which needs less shoulder and tricep stabilization. But it will be beneficial to eventually incorporate both types of planks into your workout routine since they each strengthen your muscles in a slightly different way. You can also try side planks as well.
Plank Benefits for Weight Loss
Core strengthening to the max
The best benefit of doing a plank as you can feel your ab muscles burning the entire time until you are in Plank pose.
Planks help with balance and posture
When you do any ab exercise, like a sit-up, you bend your body, but a plank is all about lengthening. Holding a plank is a kind of balance move. You are training your body to maintain this length and muscle engagement, and helping with better posture, so you will be sitting and standing properly.
Strengthen your entire body
A good plank is about making length in the body. In this, you hold yourself up and balance, but you need to engage so many muscle groups, from the abdominals to the back muscles, chest and shoulders to balance yourself.
It will make your arms super strong
Besides the core muscles, you'll also feel burning in your arms as you balance yourself up. Arm planks will additionally help to tone the shoulders and triceps.
How to Master an Elbow Plank?
Lay down on your belly, facing the floor, keeping your feet hip distance apart. Put your elbows underneath your shoulders and turn your palms down.
Gently lift your abdominal area off the floor, keeping your knees on the floor. Now straighten one leg at a time, curling your toes under the feet.
Carefully lift your knees from the floor, pressing back into your heel. Squeeze and engage both your core and glutes to keep your hips in a balanced neutral position.
How to Master a High Plank?
Lay down facing the floor on your hands and knees. Place your hands a few inches in front of the shoulders and knees directly under the hip.
Straighten one leg at a time, curling your toes under and keeping your knees elevated from the floor.
Once both of your knees are elevated, keep your glutes and core engaged and move your shoulders over your wrists. Make sure your heels are in a flexed position, which makes more stability and glute engagement.
How to Make Your Plank Easier?
The classic plank modification for a low or high plank — on your knees instead of your feet — will take some of the weight off your hands, reducing the load your body has to balance and lift. When you do a modified plank on your knees, you need to make sure that the majority weight of your body is above your knees, so there's not much pressure on your knees.
How to Make Your Plank More Challenging?
You can increase the level of difficulty of a plank by adding more balance and strength challenges, like a single-leg plank, or an uneven plank, where you can use a stability ball. Or, you can also try both the single leg and uneven plank at the same time, if you want to test your strength.
How to Nail Proper Plank Form?
Whatever variation you're trying, there are a few universal tips that will ensure you're feeling the burn in a better way — and not putting strain where you shouldn't.
Hips should not be in a downward dog pose
Planking needs some practice and it's all about finding that one spot where the hips aren't too high or too low. Your plank should not look like a downward dog yoga pose, with your hips elevated, because then you're not actually working on your core muscles. Your hips need to always be lower than the shoulders. That goes for both a low and high plank as well.
The back should be in alignment too
Your hips or low back shouldn't be dipping either. For all kinds of planks, it's mainly about head-to-toe alignment. Your body should appear like a diagonal straight line from the top of your head to your heels.
Don't drop your head
It's easy to let your neck bend and head drop toward the floor when you're trying to power through that plank hold, but doing this will disrupt the length and good posture you're trying to create.
Squeeze your glutes and core muscles while breathing
This is the main challenge of a plank. Yes, you need to continually squeeze both your glutes and core muscles, without tensing your entire body. Keep breathing steadily throughout the plank hold. With every exhale, think about pulling the belly a little deeper toward the spine while maintaining your posture.
Building a strong core is required for achieving total body strength and stability. Core exercises decrease your risk of injury, relieve lower back pain, and enhance good posture. Planks are an effective way to stimulate your core muscle strength and attain maximum benefits from your time spent working out.
Believe it or not, it is possible to strengthen your core hardly in just five minutes a day. If you are unable to do the entire workout as outlined, don't sweat it. Just do what you can with your capabilities, and build up your strength over time. People also do the planks for weight loss.
Before starting any other exercise program do consult your physician if you are having any health issues.