Because of the ongoing pandemic, many gyms around the world have been forced to close, leaving many people with no place to train. This has forced people to become more creative with their workouts.
One of the best alternatives is bodyweight training, which is why it is rapidly gaining popularity among fitness enthusiasts around the world. It’s simple, practical and you can do it outdoors as well.
When it comes to training using only your body weight, there is an exercise which you wouldn’t want to miss. It’s one of those exercises that will never go out of style, just like push-ups and pull-ups, and it is also one of the most effective exercises you can do. We are talking about the plank.
Doing planks is very straightforward, but it has the potential to produce significant results in a relatively short amount of time.
The main muscle group the plank targets are the abdominal muscles. They play an essential role in a good body posture and offer support for the back. Having strong abs plays a huge role in injury prevention as well.
What will happen if you do planks every day?
The classic plank
Lie down on the floor on your abdomen. Get in a push up position, but instead of your palms, use your elbows to support yourself. Keep your torso straight and rigid. Resist bending it.
Imagine a line running from your ears to your toes. Your head should be relaxed and you can keep looking at the floor. For starters, it’s enough to keep this position for at least 10 seconds. Then, you can gradually increase the time to as long as you want.
One of the ways in which you can make them even more challenging is to lift one of your arms and/or legs. You should always keep your abs engaged and shouldn’t let your belly go down or your hips move up. To avoid pushing your hips and butt out, keep the pelvis inclined to face the floor. Take deep breaths. Slowly inhale and exhale.
Benefits of doing planks regularly
You will strengthen your abs and your glutes
One of the main benefits of doing planks is a strong core. The plank is an ideal ab exercise because it targets the whole group of core muscles including the transverse abdominal muscles, straight abdominal muscle ( rectus abdominis), the abdominal external oblique muscle around the stomach, and the glutes.
You mustn’t neglect to train these muscles as each of the aforementioned groups has a purpose. If you make all of them stronger, this is what will happen:
Transverse abdominal muscles – your ability to lift heavier weights will increase.
Rectus abdominis – you will increase your overall sports performance, especially when jumping. This is the group that represents the famous “six-pack”.
Abdominal oblique muscles – your ability to bend and turn at the waist will improve.
Gluteus muscles – they offer a greater to your back.
You will lower your risk of injury
The plank is a type of exercise that allows you to build muscle mass without exerting too much pressure on your back and hips. According to some studies, doing planks will not only decrease back pain but will also strengthen your waist muscles and ensure strong back support, especially at the top.
You will accelerate your metabolism
One of the benefits of doing planks is a faster metabolism. Doing the plank can stimulate the entire body, and if you do it every day, you will burn more calories than doing any other (bodyweight) exercise where abs are also involved such as push-ups. Stronger muscles by doing planks every day ensure higher energy expenditure even while resting. This is especially important if you have a sedentary job and spend the majority of your day sitting in a desk.
If you do 10 minutes of even light exercise every day before or after work, you will not only accelerate your metabolism, you will also ensure that it stays elevated hours after your activity.
You will improve your posture
Doing planks works wonders for your posture. Once your core becomes stronger, you’ll find yourself able to maintain the right body posture in any situation, because your abdominal muscles’ strength will provide increased support for your neck, back, shoulders, chest, and arms.
You will improve your stability
Have you ever tried standing on one leg and struggled to maintain this position for more than just a few seconds? Chances are your abdominal muscles aren’t strong enough to provide the necessary stability. When you strengthen your abdominal muscles by doing a plank and other plank variations, you will notice a significant improvement in almost any type of sports activity.
You will get more flexible
One of the key benefits of planks is flexibility. When you maintain a plank position, you expand and extend your shoulders, shoulder blades, and collarbone, while at the same time you tense up your hamstrings, leg loops, and toes. When you start doing side planks as well, you will also target the abdominal oblique muscles which will further improve your overall flexibility.
You’ll improve your physical and mental health
Performing planks have been shown to have a unique influence on our nervous system and they can drastically improve our mood. The way it does this is by directly targeting the muscle groups that influence stress and body tension.
Suppose you’re working in an office and you’re sitting on a chair all day, with time you may feel that your thigh muscles retract, you feel heaviness in your legs and you feel increased tension in your shoulders. This is how stress is built up in your muscles and nerves. The good news is that doing planks will not only keep your brain healthy, it will also help reduce anxiety levels and feelings of depression. The more you do them, the more you’ll keep depression at bay.
Frequent mistakes to avoid when doing planks
The most frequent mistakes when doing planks generally fall into two groups. In the first group are the mistakes related to overestimating your abilities and trying out new plank variations too early and in the second group, the mistakes are related to a lack of proper technique. Let’s examine them in further detail.
As mentioned previously, the most frequent mistakes are related to trying out advanced variations too early. Instead of properly learning the technique of a basic plank, where your wrists and toes manage your weight perfectly, many people are eager to move to an advanced level where greater overall strength is required such as planks with lifted legs or opposite arms, plank with a Bosu ball or an exercise ball, etc.
Many times attempting such variations can result in muscle imbalances and sometimes even injury. This is why you must master the classic plank first, before moving on to something more advanced.
The second most frequent group of mistakes are those related to improper technique. This is easier to recognize – the butt is being pushed out, the shoulder blades aren’t joined together, the shoulders are falling, the head is bent, the stomach is loose, the funnel chest, etc.
If you’re not sure if you’re doing it right, don’t be afraid to ask someone with more experience. So, there it is, all the benefits doing planks has to offer. You will not be disappointed.