We get it – you’d rather spend an extra five minutes doing sit-ups and crunches than having to hold yourself in a plank pose for even a second. But if you’re constantly looking for ways around planking, you’re missing out on a transformative, belly fat-blasting workout that can save you valuable time and energy.
Welcome to the world of planks: it’s the ultimate tightening and strengthening exercise for your core, and there’s a good reason that it’s a part of any really good ab routine. Not only does planking help give you a greater, more toned body, but it also helps you achieve better posture and higher mental agility.
If you’re ready to get started, here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to cranking out those killer planks.
There’s more than one way to plank.
If you’re new to the world of planks, you’ll probably start off with a standard plank, where you position yourself like you’re going to do a push-up (you can either hold yourself up on your hands, or rest on your elbows and forearms) and maintain the pose. But from there, it’s easy to start evolving and trying out different forms of planks. Work your way to a side plank, knee plank, rocking plank, reverse plank, TRX plank, or crouching hover plank. For more intermediate and advanced plankers, you can even challenge yourself with a walking, extended, single-arm, bosu walking, or scorpion plank. The options are endless. Looking to add even more intensity? One of the most effective ways to challenge yourself a bit more while doing a plank is to raise an arm or foot while holding your body steady.
Planks help you build those rock-hard abs you’ve been wanting.
It may seem like holding your body in a push-up position for an extended period of time can’t really do as much for your abs as a more dynamic core workout, like crunches, but that’s not really the case. A good plank strengthens all major muscles in your core, including the rectus abdominus, transverse abdominus, and obliques. And even though you’re not necessarily working these muscles through motion, they get a serious workout through having to remain consistently engaged to keep your body strongly in place through the course of your plank session. Take our word for it – it will all be worth it when you look in the mirror and see your newly minted firm and toned core.
But the power of the plank also goes way beyond your core.
Planks are a quick, simple, and effective core strengthener, yes, but their benefit goes way beyond your abs, too. Planks have the power to improve your fitness all around, including improving your balance and your flexibility. Planks also help to build muscle in a lot more areas than just your core, so you’re sure to reap some muscle-building benefits in your shoulders, arms, and legs, too, which ultimately translates into better performance in other areas of your exercise routine (say hello to heavier weights and better jumping capability).
You don’t need to plank for an hour to see results.
With a lot of exercises, it feels like you have to be going at it forever in order to see results. Of course, while every workout pays off in different ways over different periods of time – some faster than others – one of the benefits of planking is that you don’t have to be doing it for a super long time to see the results. If you’re still early on in your fitness journey, start by holding the plank for a simple 10 or 15 seconds at the end of your usual workout. Then, each time you hit the gym, finish up with a plank but try to add on a bit more time with each plank. Work up to 30, 45, or 60 seconds.
You can plank anywhere (like, on your lunch break).
A couple of years ago, planking was something of a trend in that everyone was getting in the habit of busting out planks in the unlikeliest of places and sharing their planking efforts on social media. Now, we’re not saying you need to throw it back to that time and start whipping out planks in random settings, but it’s totally worth taking advantage of the fact that planks are easy to do anywhere and at anytime, since they require no equipment and can be done for super-short periods at a time. Try to squeeze in at least 10 minutes of plank exercise every day, which is enough to put you on track to a serious transformation in your abs. The best way to do it is by squeezing in short plank sessions – 30 or 60-second planks, for example – in throughout your day. This is easy enough if you’re at home, but even if you’re at work or out and about, just find a spot that you can quickly drop and plank for short bursts and you’ll be all set.