The plank (also known as a front hold, hover, or abdominal bridge) is an isometric core strength exercise in which you hold a position comparable to a push-up for as long as you can. This exercise helps us maintain our posture and support our spine by strengthening our body muscles. Some types of planks can also help you build endurance.

Before knowing the health benefits of plank exercise, let us know about the types of plank exercise.

There are stationary planks as well as power-packed moving planks, such as mountain climbers. You will come across several variations of the plank. Though the basic plank may entice you, we recommend that you try a variety of plank workouts. This will be determined by the different kinds of physical activities or workouts you participate in. The variation in planks will not only spice up your exercises but will also encourage you to incorporate planks into your daily routine.

We recommend doing each style for 15-30 seconds at first, then progressively increasing the time to 2 minutes.

Table of Contents

  1. What is Plank Exercise? 
  2. What are the Health Benefits Of Plank Exercise?
  3. How To Do Plank Exercise? - step by step 
  4. Different Variations Of Plank Exercise 
  5. Benefits of side plank exercise 
  6. Precautions To Be Taken while doing plank exercise 
  7. How long should you hold a plank? 
  8. Does plank reduce belly fat?
  9. The Bottom Line 

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What Is Plank Exercise?

A plank pose is a basic yet powerful core exercise that helps you gain strength and stability throughout your entire body. The plank may be done in a variety of ways, but the essential aim is to have your body perpendicular to the ground, your stomach facing down, and your torso lifted off the ground with your elbows or hands.

The plank resembles being trapped in a protracted push-up position without shifting your body weight up or down. Although it may appear to be a more pleasant and forgiving workout than a series of push-ups, the plank may rapidly become a hard activity.

  • The plank stance is used in a variety of yoga routines, including sun salutations, hot yoga routines, and cardio-centric yoga. The stance can be maintained for a few seconds or utilised as a transition between two different elements of the dance.
  • Professional boxers employ the plank as part of their training programme, which alternates between sets of pushups, situps, planks, and held crunches, each for decreasing lengths specified by a timer and stopped by the coach's whistle.
  • Because it is so successful at developing strength in a wide range of muscles in the human body, many professional sports teams, such as hockey and football, employ the plank as part of their workout programme.

What are the Health Benefits Of Plank Exercise?

Six-pack abs aren't the only sign of a strong core. We use our core muscles automatically for a variety of tasks throughout the day, including bending and lifting weights, maintaining balance, and even controlling our breathing. If left untreated, a weakening core can result in significant injury. The plank position targets the core muscles and provides a nice burn to increase muscle strength.

Holding a plank position concurrently activates all of these muscle groups, providing the following benefits:

1. Improved Posture

When we slouch and have sagging shoulders, we have lousy posture. This occurs as a result of improper alignment and prolonged sitting. A decent posture is one in which the body's weight is evenly distributed. While walking, standing, or sitting, it relieves tension on our spine and provides us with a straight, well-aligned body. The plank position works all of your muscles, including those in your neck, shoulder, and back, as well as those in your pelvis, thighs, and legs. This eventually leads to a good posture, giving you the confidence to walk tall and properly!

2. Improved Balance and Coordination

While riding a bike or standing on one leg, our core muscles are in charge of keeping us balanced. Even dancing necessitates the use of core muscles to maintain proper form. Planks tighten the core muscles, teaching them to withstand stress. This helps to improve muscle stability and body balance.

3. Improved Body Alignment

Back discomfort and lower back disorders affect many of us, even at a young age. This is caused by poor posture and body alignment. Planks can help you improve your posture and get rid of back pain if you do them regularly. This is because planks help to develop strong abdominal muscles, which relieve strain on the back, shoulders, and neck. After a long day of sitting at your computer, planking down can help ease neck and shoulder knots as well as realign your body. Planks and regular exercise can also help prevent osteoarthritis-related degenerative muscle atrophy.

4. Improved Core Strength

If you've read thus far, you've probably understood that our core muscles aren't just for show! Planks and their variations, such as side planks, reverse planks, and resistance planks, can aid in the development of strength and endurance. However, if you exclusively do planks, you may get bored and give up. As a result, your ‘planking' should be consistent in the lead-up to a routine that includes several activities such as cardio, weight training, and so on, to give your body a holistic workout rather than a core burnout!

5. Improved Flexibility

Planks increase flexibility by extending all of your posterior muscle groups, including your shoulders, shoulder blades, and collarbone, as well as your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. You can also train on your oblique muscles by adding side planks to the mix. This will provide you with even more advantages when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, an essential movement for bearing your body's weight.

6. Plank Benefits for Weight Loss

Our metabolism slows down when we cut down on physical activity. Regularly performing the plank position enhances circulation and consequently body metabolism. Your food intake will increase as your muscles become stronger. However, if you continue to exercise frequently and consume a nutritious diet, your metabolic rate will increase and you will burn more calories, resulting in fat reduction. Doing planks regularly can boost your metabolism and help you burn calories even while you sleep!

7. Improved Mental Health

All exercises release endorphins, which help us feel better. Planks, on the other hand, can exercise particularly mood-lifting since they engage the stress areas of our bodies. Strain and tension, both mental and physiological, cause our shoulders, neck, and back to stiffen up and knot. When you contract these muscles, you're physically squeezing the tension out of your big muscles, which is where the stress builds up. Constant stress can lead to anxiety and depression, among other mental health disorders. As a result, exercise is necessary to remind our brain and body to relax and revitalise.

8. Decreased Risk of Back Injury

Planks are a sort of workout that helps you to gain muscle while also ensuring that your spine and hips are not put under too much stress. Planks can help you develop your back muscles and provide your entire back with more support and stability, especially in the areas surrounding your upper back.

How To Do Plank Exercise? - Step By Step

Choose a position that allows you to extend your entire body length. A workout mat will provide enough padding to allow you to feel comfortable on all fours. You can choose to do a plank on your palms or forearms.

  1. Start in a plank posture with your forearms and toes on the floor, facing down. Your forearms are facing forward and your elbows are just under your shoulders. You should be looking at the floor with your head relaxed.
  2. Draw your navel toward your spine by engaging your abdominal muscles. Maintain a rigid and straight torso, as well as a straight line from your ears to your toes with no sagging or bending. This is how the spine should be in a neutral position. Make sure your shoulders aren't sagging toward your ears. Your heels should be higher than your toes.
  3. Hold this position for a total of ten seconds. Allow yourself to fall to the ground.
  4. Work up to 30, 45, or 60 seconds over time.

Different Variations Of Plank Exercise

The plank exercise is diverse, not just in terms of the health benefits it gives, but also in terms of the number of varied ways you may execute it. Each method is better for different parts of the body, and they may all be swapped on different days of your workout program.

1. Front Plank - The normal plank is a great way to build both your upper and lower body.

2. Side Plank - Side planking is an excellent way to strengthen your obliques while also stabilising your spine.

  • To do side planks, start by lying down on your side. Begin on the right side, ensuring that your legs are straight.
  • Raise yourself with your right forearm, keeping your body straight - your body should form a diagonal line from your head to your feet.
  • Make sure both your hips and knees are off the ground.
  • You can rest your left hand on the floor to help balance yourself if necessary.

3. Reverse Plank - Reverse planks are excellent for strengthening the glutes and lower body, especially the hamstrings and lower back.

  • Sit with your legs straight out in front of you on the ground.
  • Place your palms down on the floor just below your shoulders.
  • In a reverse plank, flex your buttocks and thighs, then push your body upwards.
  • Start with your elbows on the floor instead of your hands if you need more support.
  • As always, make sure your body is in a straight line.

4. Arm or leg lift planks - Because these planks put a lot more demand on your muscles, they'll help you acquire a lot more strength and endurance. Arm and leg lift planks are a terrific complement to any workout and may be used in place of or in addition to conventional planks. When you're in a regular forward plank position, simply elevate an arm or a leg. This exercise serves to strengthen your upper back, chest, and core. Lifting an arm will boost shoulder advantages; using your leg will work out your sides and glutes more.

5. Side plank crunch - Place your right hand beneath your shoulder and lie sideways on the floor in a side plank posture. Make sure your opposite foot's inside is resting on the floor in front of your other. Form a diagonal from head to toes by tightening your abs and pushing onto your right hand. Crunch forward and down, attempting to bring your left elbow to your right, then return to starting position and repeat. When you're finished, switch sides and repeat.

6. Resistance plank - Adding a resistance band to your plank will improve the benefits to your core, shoulders, and even your hamstring flexibility. Get into a typical high plank position with the band around your wrists and/or ankles. Return to the original position after moving your left hand out a few inches and noticing the extra tension on your muscles. Rep on the opposite side — you've completed a single rep when you've worked each side of your body. When you're first starting out, aim for ten reps!

Benefits Of Side Plank Exercise

The following are some of the primary benefits of side plank exercise in your training routine:

  • At the same time, it strengthens three muscular groups. The muscles in your shoulders, hips, and sides of your core must all activate and work together to keep you stable in a side plank pose.
  • It safeguards your spine. Side planks target the quadratus lumborum, a deep spinal stabilising muscle. Maintaining the strength of this muscle might help you avoid back injuries.
  • Strengthens your core without putting too much strain on your back. Side planks, unlike crunches and situps, do not exert strain on your lower back. Nonetheless, this exercise is a wonderful way to strengthen your core.
  • It helps you maintain your equilibrium. A side plank is a balancing exercise that can help you improve your balance and coordination.
  • Reduces your chances of getting a back injury. Poor core endurance was connected to greater injury risk in a 2016 study published in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy. Planks and side planks might help you avoid back injuries if you incorporate them into your workout routine.

Precautions To Be Taken While Doing Plank Exercise

While planking is a fantastic exercise, you should proceed with caution before beginning a planking regimen. Our experts have provided the following helpful hints:

  • If you experience pain in your neck or lower back, you might not be strong enough to put in the effort into your exercise or might exert too much pressure unknowingly. This could cause your vertebrae to get compressed or put too much strain on your spine.
  • It's a good idea to start by doing the plank for a few seconds at a time to make sure you don't have any injuries that would be aggravated by completing the exercise.
  • Make sure your hips, head, and shoulders don't sag! This incorrect type of execution can result in several injuries in the muscle areas you're attempting to strengthen.
  • Don't put your hands too close together; this can throw you off balance and cause a lack of stability that will stick with you.
  • Take a deep inhale and don't hold your breath. Planks can be held for a long period, and depriving your brain of oxygen for that long can be harmful. Furthermore, good exertion necessitates a continual supply of oxygen.
  • If you find yourself holding planks for long, flex your abs or belly button, or try a more difficult variation. Even for those who do the plank flawlessly, there are a few things to keep in mind to avoid injury.
  • If you already have back pain from strained muscles or injured discs in your vertebrae, crunches instead of planks may be a better option. Crunches are known for their capacity to strengthen the core, although they do not flex the spine.
  • Before beginning any workout plan, you should consult with a physician to examine your present physical condition. Before you begin exercising, consult your doctor to see if there are any precautions you should take.

How Long Should You Hold A Plank?

When it comes to holding a plank pose, it's a widespread fallacy that the longer you hold the posture, the more advantages you'll get. Holding the position for a prolonged period of time will only impair your form and may cause muscular tension. It's recommended to do the plank in small groups. This way, you can keep your posture and get the most out of it.

10 seconds of plank hold is a reasonable amount of time for a novice. After a 20-second pause between reps, you can hold planks for 10 seconds three times. If you're a seasoned fitness buff, you should be able to maintain a plank for 30 seconds at a time.

Does Plank Reduce Belly Fat?

It's difficult to lose abdominal fat. Getting rid of the dragging belly fat remains the number one desire for most individuals, no matter how hard they try. However, there are a variety of activities that are specifically designed to burn fat around the waistline. The plank is one exercise that is thought to be quite beneficial.

Plank is one of the most effective and helpful workouts for burning calories. A plank hold stimulates numerous muscles at once, boosting your body's core strength. They operate by improving your posture, flexibility, and belly tightness in addition to burning fat around your abdominal area.

It may appear easy, yet it needs a great deal of perseverance and balance. In this case, the longer you can stay in the plank posture, the better. Experts recommend sticking to the objective of maintaining a plank for 60 seconds for a minimum of three times to decrease abdominal fat.

Trainers say that holding a plank for 60 seconds is the best way to get the best benefits. If you're a newbie, sixty seconds might be difficult, but it's something you should strive on. In a similar vein, even if you are an expert at planks, maintaining the position for more than a minute is a waste of time. The concept behind the 60-second hold is that you complete the perfect plank hold rather than just completing the bare minimum.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What type of exercise is a plank?

The plank pose is an isometric core workout in which you hold a position comparable to a push-up for as long as you can.

2. What is plank exercise good for?

The finest workout to improve your core and abdomen is the plank. These exercises enhance your body balance while strengthening your hips, lower back, and tummy. Yoga practitioners, professional boxers, and athletes in sports such as hockey, cricket, and football all use it.

3. How do you start planking?

Start by doing a plank on your knees if you're a newbie. For a more difficult task, attempt one on your forearms if you're more advanced. Maintain a strong grip on the ground with your palms and toes, a straight back, and a dense core. While in plank pose, make sure your body is in a straight line.

4. Does plank exercise burn belly fat? 

Plank is one of the most effective and helpful exercises for burning calories. A plank hold engages numerous muscles at once, benefiting your body's core strength. They operate by improving your posture, flexibility, and belly tightness in addition to burning fat around your abdomen area. It may appear simple, yet it needs a great deal of perseverance and balance. Experts recommend sticking to the objective of maintaining a plank for 60 seconds for a minimum of three times to decrease abdominal fat.

5. Is a 2-minute plank exercise good? 

Yes, a 2-minute plank is quite good for the body. A study shows that an average 80 seconds plank benefits the females the most and an average 115 seconds plank benefits the males the most. So, considering this average, a 2-minute plank is quite impressive.

6. How long should I hold a plank exercise form?

Start with modest time intervals and work your way up, according to our experts. Start with 10-second holds and then drop to the floor and repeat a few times, before progressing to 20-second holds, 30, 45, and 60 seconds. A one-minute plank is a terrific goal for beginners and a three-minute plank should be the target for professionals.

7. Is 1-minute plank exercise enough for a day?

Planks are a basic but effective total-body exercise that can help you increase lower- and upper-body strength, activate your core, and stabilise your joints. You can yield incredible benefits by planking every day only for a minute. So, get started now.

The Bottom Line

The plank exercise is an excellent, simple exercise that everyone can learn and should be included in everyone's fitness routine. The plank has a plethora of advantages, and because it works your core muscles in such a unique way, these advantages may be felt throughout your entire body. The plank exercise can benefit your muscles, skeletal system, and even your organs greatly if you do it regularly.

While there are some precautions to consider when it comes to the plank and its numerous variations, it's more likely that you'll profit from it than you'll be in danger. Hopefully, you can see how beneficial this workout is to you right away!

To know more on plank exercise benefits, comment down below with your queries or any suggestions.

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