Planking is an exercise that I feel gets a lot of eye-rolls when it pops up in the accessory work. It’s an exercise that you all love to hate. And for good reason! It’s flipping hard to do! But is all that difficult really worth it in the end?
The plank sometimes referred to as a front hold or abdominal bridge is a core strength exercise that involves maintaining a position similar to a pushup for a maximum possible time. While it might look simple or easy, don’t be fooled. Holding this position takes strength and endurance in your abs, core, and back.
Whether you are brand new to fitness or are a seasoned vet, planks are difficult no matter what. They are a simple but challenging exercise that is great for building core strength, working on balance, and tightening those problem areas. Here are some health benefits of doing planks.
- It strengthens your core!!! Planks reign supreme as one of the best movements for having a stronger core, as it uses all four muscle groups in the stomach region. Having a strong core is necessary for full body movements, such as squats, presses and cleans.
- Increases Muscle Definition. Not only will planks strengthen your abdomen, they will also strengthen the muscles in your shoulders, chest, legs, and back. The function of the exercise along with the isometric hold helps strengthen and build lean muscle, which will increase overall definition.
- Reduces Back Pain. If you are having some back issues, planking is great as it helps strengthen your back muscles. You must use the correct form in order to achieve this. So make sure you are planking with perfect form!
- Tightened Pelvic Floor. Our women, especially those who have given birth, may be more familiar with this term than the men. Doing a plank combined with a kegel squeeze can help to improve your bladder control. You achieve this by drawing your pelvis muscles up and holding them high and tight (squeezing!). Repeating this everyday will help strengthen your pelvic floor.
- Improved Balance. The isometric hold you are doing during plank encourages your body to exhibit stability as a whole. This will, in turn, improve your balance and coordination. Learning to properly stabilize your body in a difficult horizontal hold will ultimately enhance your ability to stabilize in a more natural, vertical state. This will have a carryover effect to helping you stay solid under a barbell when squatting or help to string more reps of gymnastic movements together.
Below is a simple, but effective plank routine you can do on your own, anywhere. You don’t even need to wear workout clothes to work on planking!
Planking is hard and is not the most fun exercise to do. But you just have to remember all of the benefits as you slowly watch the clock tick away. Try them out! Don’t be afraid to do some right away in the mornings or right before you go to bed. If you want help with your plank form, all of us coaches are more than happy to help.