The Plank and Side Plank Exercise
One of the best exercises for strengthening the core muscles
It's likely that you've heard of the plank exercise, but it may not be a part of your regular fitness routine.
The plank exercise is not as popular as other exercises, like crunches, aimed at the abdominals, but it is quite effective. An added bonus to performing the plank exercise is that it builds endurance as it strengthens muscles.
What is the Plank Exercise?
The plank exercise is more of a position, rather than an exercise, because rather than performing multiple reps, you place yourself in the position, and then hold your body there.
When you first begin to perform the plank exercise, you'll no doubt have difficulty holding the position for very long. But, over time, you'll be able to hold yourself in the position longer.
In the plank exercise, you put your body weight on your elbows, forearms, and toes, holding your body still. It takes quite a bit of strength and works several muscles.
Which Muscles Does the Plank Work?
The plank exercise works your core muscles: your abdominals and those in your back and hips. These muscles are particularly important because they help give you stability, they improve your posture and they help your sense of balance.
When we have a strong core, it also makes it easier to perform other exercises, because we have better balance and greater stability. We're also less likely to suffer a back injury or have back pain when we have a strong core.
How to Perform the Plank and Side Plank
To perform the plank exercise, lie on your stomach with upper body weight on your forearms. Raise up onto your toes putting your body in a straight line (like a plank). Hold this position for as long as you can and increase the hold time as your endurance improves.
The Plank Exercise Performed Correctly
To perform the side plank exercise, begin in the same starting position, but then roll to one side or the other. Then lift up on your toes, with your upper body weight being held up on one elbow/forearm.
This exercise is a little more challenging; as it is harder to keep your body stable when up on one elbow. Your body should form a slant when in the side plank position.
For either exercise, aim to hold the position for 10-20 seconds as a beginner. Though this is a simple exercise, because you are just holding a position; it is not easy.
Average Holding Time For The Plank Exercise
- 30 Seconds is below average
- 1 to 2 Minutes is average
- 2 to 3 Minutes is good
- Above 3 Minutes is excellent
Each time you perform the plank, aim to hold the position a few seconds longer. If you perform it regularly, you should see your endurance improve fairly quickly.
The plank is one of those exercises that anyone can do, even though you may not be able to do it for very long at first. But, becoming proficient at holding the plank positions will strengthen some of the most important muscles in your body, and make you stronger, leaner looking and have better posture, in just a few minutes of exercise each day.