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June 6th 2016

Here at Planet Woman/Planet Fitness, we know the importance of core strength and how it benefits your overall fitness. One of the best ways to incorporate core exercises into your regular workout routine is to practice planks! Whether you are at one of our two Kamloops or Merritt locations, ask one of our staff or trainers to show you how to plank properly. There are many variations so read below for the variations and tips.

Planks are good for:

Get in plank position and hold for one minute. That sounds easy enough but it’s deceiving. A plank looks so simple but it really isn’t so then why should we do them? What are they good for anyway?

Here is a deep long look into why planks are good for us and why we should keep doing them.

Planks are a great whole body conditioning exercise. With proper form (key to this exercise) you can tone your glutes (bum). Hamstrings, improve your posture and your balance. How you ask?
1. Toning you stomach
A plank targets those inner deep muscles of your core which is the foundation for that desired six pack.
2. Reduces back pain
Doing planks help to strengthen your core and upper back muscles which in turn puts less pressure on your lower back once you learn to use your new stronger core muscles.
3. Increases flexibility
Planks can help increase your posterior (back) muscles. Doing a plank causes your shoulder, clavicle (collarbone), and scapula (shoulder blade) to expand and contract giving you a fabulous stretch. Try doing a plank if you have been stuck at your desk for an extended period of time. A plank also stretches you hamstrings, arches and toes of your feet; if you do a side plank, your obliques (sides of your abdominal area) get a fabulous stretch as well.
4. Planks can improve your mood – say what?!
If you have been stuck at your desk all day, try doing a plank and hold it for 30 seconds. This can help relax and stretch stiff muscles and release tension build up.
5. Improves balance and posture
Doing a plank triggers all your muscles, increasing their strength and endurance. If you practice doing planks on a regular basis, take note of your improving posture. Especially if you are doing side planks or a variation of a plank called a plank extension.

How to perform a proper plank?

(photo from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hwo1qGnyIUI)

1. Place elbows directly under your wrists; wrists inline with shoulders
2. Push up into push up position with your chin close to your neck (like you are holding an egg between chin and neck)
3. Pull your stomach in and tighten your glutes and thighs. Suck your belly button into your back and do a kegal to engage your muscles.
4. Hold for 20-30 seconds

Plank Variations
There are many different variations of the plank. Some are difficult and some just add a little extra to your regular plank. Try these four variations:

A. Rocking Plank
Starting in standard plank position, push your shoulders past your hands
Hold for 10 seconds and move back to standard position
Push your heels past your toes and hold for 10 second
Repeat for the length of your plank

B. Knee Plank
If you cannot hold a standard plank, try starting on your knees
Keep your back straight and core tight (sucking your belly button into your back)
Keep trying the kneeling plank until you work your way up to a standard plank

C. Plank with shoulder tap
In standard plank position, lift your right hand and touch your left shoulder
Place hand back down and repeat using your left hand to right shoulder
Do not let your hips sway – pretend that you are hold a glass of water on your back

D. Side plank
Starting in standard plank, stack your feet together (instep to instep) and bring yourself to your side, balancing on one hand
Hold for as long as you can
Go back into standard plank and repeat on the other side

Planks are a great whole body exercise; try adding a plank in to your regular routine. Once you master the standard plank, adding a few more second each time will help build your endurance.