Plank is simple and very effective exercise for strengthening the abdominal wall. It belongs to the group of isometric strength exercises, a static exercises in which the muscles are constantly contracted. This exercise is known as the best for abs, but it is also good for a central part of the body, ie. muscles that connect the upper and lower body. The muscles of the upper arm and shoulder are also active, because you hold the full weight of your body on the hands and toes. If you try hard and squeeze the buttock muscles, you will use the full potential of this magical exercise. No equipment is required, because you work with the weight of your body and you only need space to stretch out.
The classic plank, as well as its variations, take away quite a little bit of time, so you can use this exercise before / after training or individually whenever you have a few minutes free.
– The hands are placed directly below the shoulders (distant little more than shoulder width), as you are preparing to do pushups.
– Legs rely only on the fingers and buttocks is tightened to stabilize the body. Original name of this exercise indicates that your body should look – strong and straight. The legs can be stretched or closed.
– The neck and spine should be in a neutral position, which means that your head should be in line with your back, and you’re looking at the floor, more precisely, about 30 cm in front of the hands.
This is a basic stand in which you should try to stay as long as you can. For starters, let this period lasts 20 seconds. This time should be increased for a 5-10 seconds in a few days, or when you feel that you are strengthened and you can maintain proper form longer than in previous days. It is extremely important to breathe evenly and correctly, as this will help you endure longer.
Plank on forearms
This type of plank, which is (beside the standard plank) the most common choice, apply the same rules as with standard plank. The main difference is that now you have to rely on the forearms, while the elbows are right under the shoulders and the forearms are parallel and distant from each other for a shoulder-width. If you find that this position of the hands feels unpleasantly, you can put hands together. The legs are closed.
This variation mostly engage lateral muscles of the body, and the side that is closer to the surface. Lie on side, put your leg on the other leg and then rely on the elbow (elbow should then be directly under your shoulders) or hand (hand straight), while the legs remain in the same position and relies on feet closer to floor. If this position is too hard for you at the beginning, switch upper leg just a bit in front of the bottom leg. The free hand is on the waist or up in the air. Work on both sides equally long. One of the more difficult modification of this exercise is uplifting the hips while you are in plank. The body is tight, legs straight, head looks forward and pause between side changes should be minimal, it is preferable to do a faster switch. Watch the video with several heavy and light variations of the side plank.
Now when you understand the basics of plank, let’s see what are the pitfalls to avoid. It is important to remember that everyone has to start somewhere and do not despair if your plank time is short at the beginning. It is important that the form is correct, and this will surely help you in strengthening of the muscles and you will notice progress. Be consistent and you will see how this exercise ‘works’. Note the following:
Do not let your hips ‘fail’.
The head shouldn’t fall or go too low.
– If you feel that you cannot stay in the neutral position and that the lower back takes all the weight, stop the exercise, remember how much time you have manage to workout and the next time start right up to that moment were you can maintain the perfect position.
Make sure to breathe correctly!
– The natural impulse is that when we do something physically demanding, we are holding our breath and breathing is uneven. If you limit your body of oxygen in these situations, it can lead to dizziness and fainting. In the worst case you will certainly perform exercises inefficient and it will be very difficult. So keep calm, breathe properly and you will be able to endure more and engage your muscles in the right way.