The plank is one of the best exercises for strengthening your core and arms. You don’t need any special equipment, and you can do it anywhere. You simply use your body weight as resistance.
Doing the Exercise
Lie face-down on the floor with your legs together, forearms close to the torso, and toes perpendicular to the floor as if you’re going to do a push up. Lift your body using your abdominal muscles and your arms, until it’s in a straight line from head to toe, and the only things touching the floor are your toes and your forearms. Hold this position for as long as you can, working up to three minutes at a time.
Be sure your head doesn’t sag. Keep it in alignment with your body. Don’t let your back arch and don’t hold your breath. Calm, regular breathing will help you maintain your posture by helping the blood circulate freely and will prevent dizziness. Doing the exercise incorrectly puts you at risk of injury.
If you can’t hold this form for more than a few seconds, try doing a modified plank by using your knees instead of your toes as the contact point. This is easier to do, and it helps take pressure off your back. You’ll still reap the benefits of exercise, and won’t get discouraged by an exercise that’s too difficult. When you find this version is too easy, try doing the full plank.
This exercise is deceptively effective. You’ll feel your abs working as well as your shoulders, back and arms. Your abdominals engage throughout the exercise, and you’ll feel them tightening the entire time. By placing your weight horizontally on your shoulders, you work them in ways free weights or machines can’t, so this exercise is a great addition to an existing workout routine. Your back muscles, particularly your lats, or the muscles that run from your upper back around to your side, get a fantastic workout.
Don’t do this exercise if you have a back or shoulder injury. By resting your weight on your shoulders and arms, it could exacerbate any existing muscle or joint problem. If you feel pain at any time during this exercise, stop doing it.
Once you master this exercise, you’ll find that you get an all-over workout with this one simple move. If you can’t do crunches, or you’re sick of them, this is a great way to shake up your routine. If you’re looking for a way to tone your back and arms and there are no weights available, this is a good choice of exercise.
If you can’t always get to the gym, this is a fantastic workout you can do anywhere. All you need is a bit of floor space. If you travel, you have no excuse not to try this, because you won’t have to pack exercise equipment or worry about finding a gym in a strange town.
The plank will help you uncover that six pack you know is there!