With everyone’s busy schedule, even squeezing in a 15 minute workout seems like a stretch. Quite honestly, we all want to be fit, lose weight, gain muscle, reduce belly fat or increase stamina and so on but very rarely find the time to do it.
In such a scenario, it is necessary to think about which workouts consume less time but are more effective. There are many exercises that you can perform at any time, anywhere and with no equipment. One such workout that not only keeps you fit but improves your focus, posture, balance and core is a Plank.
Planks strengthen your mid-section, upper-body and lower-body muscles along with the front of your body. It also strengthens the inner core muscles that support your joints. At a time, it works on all your core muscles.
In 2017, I was super excited to participate in my first ever 100km Oxfam Trailwalk. I began practicing regularly and then I realized that I was going through severe back problems. The result of the back pain led to my doctor forbidding me to participate in the Trailwalk and I missed the event.
I kept myself strong and promised that next year I will surely participate in the Trailwalker with a strong back bone. I started doing back strengthening exercises, worked on my diet and after some time I added Plank to my workouts. This workout has helped me to reduce my back pain, improve my posture, balance, and overall fitness.
How To Hold A Plank
- Lie face down with forearms on the floor and hands clasped
- Extend your legs behind the body and rise up on the toes
- Keeping your back straight, tighten the core and hold the position for 30-60 seconds (or as long as you can)
Plank Variations and How to Perform Them
There are different variations for the plank which are a little difficult to perform. Let’s explore them!
- Side Plank: Roll to the side and come up on one foot and elbow. Make sure your hips are lifted and the core is engaged. Hang tight for 30-60 seconds (or as long as you can)
- Reverse Plank: Start by sitting on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Place your palms on the floor, below your shoulders, squeeze your buttocks and thighs, and then push your body up into a reverse plank position. Alternatively, you can begin by placing your elbows rather than your hands on the floor, for a less dramatic lift. Keep your body in a straight diagonal line from your shoulders to heels. Ensure that your hips are in line
- Dynamic Prone Plank: Starting with a standard plank position, raise the hips as high as they can go and then lower them back down. Continue this movement for as long as possible. Make sure the Back stays straight and the hips don’t droop.
- Plank to Push-Up: Starting in a plank position, place down one hand at a time to lift up into a push-up position, with the back straight and the core engaged. Then, move one arm at a time back into the plank position (forearms on the ground). Repeat alternating the arm that makes the first move
- Jumping Jack Planks: There are planks, and then there are planks with pop! Start in a traditional plank (shoulders over the wrists and the body in one straight line) but keep your feet together. Then, simply do jumping jacks with the legs, moving them out to the sides, then back together. Aim for 12-15 hops (out and in is one)
Fun Fact: Just by holding a plank for 30 secs a day, you can make your core stronger. It also helps you lose fat!
One word of caution is being careful when performing planks. Overdoing it could lead to injury. This is important if you have back pain or an injury. If you’re trying it for the first time, get into it slowly and gradually till you can hold the plank for longer duration. The duration can be increased with practice.
Points to Remember
- Keep breathing while doing the Plank. In essence, don’t hold your breath
- Ensure that your hips, head or shoulders do not drop
- Don’t place your hands very close, it can create internal rotation and instability in your shoulder joint
- Try to hold the Plank in a proper position for a short duration rather than holding it in a wrong position for a longer time
What do you think? Try out planks and its variations and let us know your thoughts in the comments below!