Planking. The one exercise which needs absolutely no equipment and can be performed just about anywhere you can make space.
Although it’s one of the most simplest exercises to do, it is insanely difficult to master. You maybe able to get into a plank position relatively easily. You may be able to hold it for 10, 20 or 30 seconds. Maybe longer. But to really get the benefits of total core strength and stability, you want to be holding this for minutes.
And that’s where it becomes tough. Time never felt so long.
How to Plank
Top 5 Benefits of Planking
Planking has several, some perhaps not so obvious, benefits. The simple exercise targets virtually every muscle group in our body – everything is recruited to keep your body stiff and stable as a board for those 20 seconds to a minute that you plank.
Planking will help strengthen your core
Without a doubt the primary effect of planking is its effect on strengthening your core muscles. By planking, you recruit a variety of muscles to help keep yourself stable. From abs, to obliques to glutes.
Planking will help improve your posture
Your core is important in helping keep your spine upright and straight. Often, a bad back and even slipped disc can be a result of poor posture, which is a result of weak core and instability.
However your posture is not just about your core, but your shoulders, neck and pelvic tilt. Planking pulls this into focus, forcing your body straight, strengthening your core, your arms and shoulders, your traps and abs – the combined effect of which leads to great posture.
Planking can help make you more flexible
While it’s not obvious, a hidden benefit of planking is it can make the posterior side of your body (read – the rear of your body) more flexible. It does this because planking activates these muscles at the back of your body which often can go neglected.
Plank variations – such as side planks – help further enhance flexibility by helping you target areas which may not get attention when stretching or exercising regularly.
Planking could help you lose weight
How? By improving your body’s metabolism. And how does it do that? By increasing muscle strength, stamina and potentially volume. The more muscle volume you have, the more calories your body burns to keep energised even when resting. And the stronger your muscles, the better and longer you perform when working out other exercises – which helps burn more calories.
Planking helps you focus and build up mental resilience
Building up mental resilience is another benefit of planking. Holding a position which is forcing your muscle fibres to sustain your body weight for an undefined amount of time will test your ability to focus and preserve. This is a great skill to develop not just for exercising, but life in general whether for at work or personally.
How long should I hold a plank for?
There’s no right or wrong answer here, but the truth is for as long as you can. Planking is a challenge in stamina (both physical and mental) as well as strength.
Beginners should aim to hold a plank for at least 20 seconds and work up to a minute, for 3-4 sets. If you find you can go longer, then go for longer.