Have you been wanting to start exercising but have not been able to? Well, you are not alone. Many of us lead busy lives and it is hard to set aside time on a daily basis for exercises. Hitting the gym every day is a luxury that many of us cannot afford. We spend most of our days juggling from one important priority to another, and in this rat race, we completely ignore our health.
The reason why most of us do not exercise is that we are of the opinion that to exercise we need to have the necessary equipment, and dedicated place and time to do it. Well, it is not the case. In fact, it is the simplest of exercises that are most effective in maintaining regular fitness. One such exercise is the PLANK. It needs no equipment and all it takes is five minutes a day. Also, you can practically do this by your bedside as soon as you get up.
If you are one who hasn’t tried doing a plank before, it looks ridiculously easy but trust us, it will test your limits and guess what? It is totally worth it. In simple words, all you have to do is rest on your elbows and hold your body in a straight line off the ground. Getting into the position is the easy part but the trick is to hold the position. It takes endurance and strength to hold the position.
The following infograph shows how to do a classic plank:
Plank is an ideal exercise for core conditioning but it also works on your hamstrings and overall posture.
Here are some of the many benefits of doing planks:
This is one of the most important benefits of doing the plank. As planks engage all major muscle groups in the abdomen, they are great for abdominal muscles and core strength. The benefits of working on each muscle group are specific and distinct.
Engaging rectus adbominis greatly influences sports performance, mainly jumping. If you are looking for the six pack look, then you cannot ignore this muscle group. The ability to lift heavy weights depends on the strength of the transverse abdominis muscle group. Increased capacity for waist-twisting and side bending depends on the oblique muscles. Glutes are responsible for strong and in-shape booty and supported back.
Planks engage each of the above muscle groups and hence build core strength. Another advantage of doing planks is that it does not cause any disc issues or aggravate any existing back pain problems.
Metabolism Boost and Fat Burn
While cardiovascular exercises are a more effective way of burning fat, strength training exercises are a more efficient way. The reason for this is that during cardiovascular exercises the metabolic rate increases but stops as soon as the exercise is done. On the other hand, the metabolic rate continues to increase even after stopping the exercise during strength training. Hence, planks, being a strength training exercise, are an efficient way of burning fat and increasing metabolism. One should also consider the fact that greater the muscle you gain, greater is the calories that you can burn. That is, every pound of muscle gained results in burning of additional 50 calories per day.
Planks work in two ways when it comes to strengthening the back. One, it engages all the core muscle groups including the back to strengthen it, mainly the upper back muscles. Second, it reduces the stress on the back as a neutral spine position is maintained while doing the plank. This eliminates constant strain that is exerted on the back as a result of extending and flexing of the spinal column in other exercises. American Council on Exercise claims that the minimum movement required in doing a plank contracts all layers of the abdominal wall strengthening the core and at the same time reducing pain in the lower back.
Most people think of crunches and sit-ups when they think of getting a toned and flat belly. In reality, crunches are not as efficient as it is thought out to be. US Navy’s independent publication, Navy Times, recently ran an editorial that claims that sit-ups are outdated and a cause of lower back injuries.
On the other hand, planks are proven to be the most effective when it comes to getting that flat belly. A recent study by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning showed that crunches only engage 64% of the muscles necessary for a flat and toned belly look while planks engage 100% of the muscle groups. Planks strengthen and tighten the abdominal muscles while also toning other areas of the body.
Improves Posture and Balance
Planks greatly help in improving your posture and balance when done on a regular basis. The strength in core muscle groups results in maintaining a much better posture. In case if you already have postural deficiencies such as posterior pelvic and lordosis, they help you reverse it. Planks, mainly variations such as side planks and extension planks, help in improving your balance.
Following video shows how to do planks correctly: