Core strength and abdominal conditioning is about more than just aesthetics as these attributes can improve your daily life in many ways, and the plank is the ideal exercise to get these benefits.
Conditioning your core builds a strong foundation for all forms of human movements, be it inside or outside the gym. It will also help to prevent injury and alleviate pain that is often caused by a weak core and poor posture.
Including a few core exercises in your training sessions throughout your week can lead to better posture, enhanced athletic performance, a lowered risk of injury and a healthier, happier, more enjoyable life!
- Strengthens deep core muscles;
- Improves posture;
- Promotes more efficient movement;
- Improves balance and proprioception.
Here are a few moves to add in to your training routine…
The Planking Basics
Plank: In an extended push up position, form a straight line from your head to your toes. Keep your pelvis tucked, your spine and neck in a neutral position, and your shoulders relaxed and away from your neck. Breathe and hold this position for 60-120 seconds.
Execute the perfect plank:
- Contract your glutes and abdominals to brace your torso.
- Draw in your belly button towards your spine to brace your midsection effectively.
- Keep a slight bend in your knees – never lock them out – with your feet no more than hip-width apart.
- Keep your arms or elbows below your shoulders.
- Do not drop your head or lower back.
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Plank with leg lift: From the basic plank position, raise one leg straight up and back. Squeeze your glute on the same side and pause at the top position for a count before returning your leg back to the ground and repeating on the opposite side. Perform 10 raises per leg with quick transitions from one side to the other.
Side plank: Lie on your side with your elbow under your shoulder at 90-degree angle and your feet stacked on top of each other. Raise your hips and torso to form a straight line from head to toe. Hold this position for 60 seconds.
- Variation 1: Position your top leg in front using the foot for added support.
- Variation 2: Perform the exercise with arm straightened and the opposite arm reaching straight up.
The planking don’ts:
- Don’t drop your hips, head, or shoulders;
- Don’t hold your breath;
- Don’t place your hands too close together. This internally rotates your shoulders and creates instability in the joint;
- Don’t hold the position for too long after you’re no longer able to maintain proper form.
Author: Pedro van Gaalen
When he’s not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He’s worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.