As an erstwhile fitness buff, I am proud of the fact I know all the important exercises out there. Anyone I don’t know isn’t worth knowing. But plank exercise dropped me smack in the middle of that awkward moment when….you know the rest I guess. Okay, let me give it a bit of context.
I was just leisurely, lazily doing some academic research online when I saw this image of a very fit dude stretched out on the floor, his torso supported by his elbows and toes. I was like, ‘What is this lazy so and so trying to sell to some gullible people now?’ He wasn’t selling anything. He was just demonstrating how to do the plank exercise. I was invited to try it out and see how long I can hold the position. Trust me, I rushed into it. I am embarrassed to admit this: I couldn’t hold the plank for more than 30 seconds before collapsing on the floor exhausted.
Amazing I thought to myself. I just discovered a brand new exercise regime. A very low impact exercise with so much benefits. And that is where the awkward moment arrived. I found out after a cursory research that plank exercise has being around for a while. It is has its codes, guidelines and all. For me it was definitely that awkward moment when I discovered I was as ignorant as bat shit. Plank exercise is now my new thing. And I am going to convince you to, ‘Do the plank‘ with me.
What is Plank Exercise
Plank exercise specifically targets your core muscles. Core conditioning exercises are done to strengthen your tummy muscles, back muscles, and the muscles around the shoulders. In addition to that, planks condition the muscles in your thighs and bottoms.
The exercise may look easy at first. Matter of fact, setting up to do the exercise is straightforward easy. The hard part is holding the position for a length of time. That is when you’d realize that doing it requires strength, perseverance and good muscular structure in you arms, legs and body.
How to Plank
The basic plank exercise should be adequate for a beginner. No need to go into the more advanced positions. To start, get into position on the floor as if you want to do regular push-ups. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest the weight of your upper torso on your forearms. Your elbows should form a straight line with your body.
From your head to your feet should be a straight line parallel to the floor. Hold that position for about 60 seconds. Your head should be facing downwards and breathing normally.
After 60 seconds, rest for about one minute then repeat it. Repeat at least 3 times.
That is the basic plank exercise. There are several other variations of the plank. But that is for guys already advanced in it. You can just check it out for fun. I tell you, there is more to planks than just resting on you toes and elbows.
For beginners, you must do the following for an effective plank exercise:
- Suck in your bellybutton– pulling in your bellybutton works on the membrane that holds your gut and gives your spine that balanced erect bearing that is common to military men. Also, your chin must be pulled towards your chest. To concentrate your mind on holding your chin in that position, put an egg under your chin and try to hold it there while doing the plank.
- Squeeze your Kegels– women would be more familiar with the kegel muscles. Kegel exercise is done by squeezing the lower pelvic muscles. It is like trying to stop yourself urinating mid-way through the peeing process. A squeeze on the kegels while planking will help the core muscles in the abdomen.
Benefits of Planking
It is surprising how some of the best ways to keep our bodies healthier involve so little strenuous movement or no movement at all. Planking though, involves a lot of inner strength to accomplish. And like most exercises, the benefits are many.
- Abdominal muscles– planking builds your stomach muscles if done properly with dedication. You want that flat belly and six pack? Planking exercise would definitely help out with that.
- Back- because they strengthen your core muscles including back muscles, planking helps to alleviate back pains
- Flexible Muscles– like all exercises, planking helps the muscles to become flexible. The target muscles here are back, collarbone, hamstrings and shoulder blades.
- Balance and posture – this is so obvious. Planking gives you a better posture and invariably better balance too.
I hate it when my ignorance is laid bate before me. So please do me a favor and educate on other beneficial but simple exercises we really need. Better still, let’s hang out on Twitter where you can tell me how little I know about stuff that maters.