For many of us, abdominal training is very important. When it comes to the exercise selection for abdominal muscles, people tend to go for crunches. But there is another popular exercise to strengthen the abs. Planks! The plank exercise works on abdominal muscles as well as hips and back. Holding a push-up position while nicely resting on your forearms is called a plank pose. Looks like an easy exercise, but it is not. In fact, it is one of the exercises that can’t be done for long. But if you want to reap the benefits, how long should you hold a plank?
A plank is an isometric exercise that is mainly done to strengthen the core muscles, says certified fitness trainer Rachit Dua. Core muscles include the rectus abdominis, internal obliques, external obliques, transverse abdominis, quadratus lumborum and the erector spinae group that holds the spine upright.
Well, there is no thumb rule as such when it comes to duration. You can perform the set and try to do it until failure. Basically, you can continue the exercise until you are able to maintain the neutral posture, says Dua. Some find 10 to 30 seconds of plank exercise to be enough. But with time, you can extend your plank time for up to one minute.
It is all about slowly increasing the frequency and duration of the exercise. But always remember that a correct form should always be your top priority.
A 2014 study published by ResearchGate revealed that regular core strengthening can be a factor in reducing chronic back pain. So, if you want to reduce back pain, you can do plank exercise.
Here are some benefits:
• People with lower back issues can also perform planks. In fact, it will make their lower back stronger.
• Since it is a body weight exercise, it can be done anywhere, so you don’t need fancy equipment.
• You can strengthen multiple core muscles just with this single exercise. Also, some degree of lower body muscles also get the advantage of this isometric move.
• Exercises like squatting and dead-lifting can leave you with injuries if you don’t have a strong core. So, do more planking to prevent exercise-related injuries.
• A strong core also means less stress on the joints.
• With a strong core, you may also achieve better posture.
The very basic plank is done by lying prone over the elbows, keeping the body weight over the toes while maintaining a stable and straight back structure, the expert tells Health. Shots. Make sure to keep your elbows perpendicular to your shoulder. The whole idea is to maintain your entire body in a neutral position, that is, the body should not bend.
There are also variations to perform planks:
• Knee plank, which takes pressure off your lower back but still gives you a great core workout.
• Side plank, which is mostly targets your muscles on the sides of your torso and your hip abductors.
• One leg plank, which is basically the plank exercise on just one leg.
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Avoid the following mistakes while doing plank exercise:
If you arch your back, it means you are putting more weight onto your arms rather than engaging your abdominals.
Your head should not be tilted, and your neck should be in line with your body. If your head is tilted, it can strain your neck.