Everybody PLANK!

No, I’m not talking about the craze that has seemingly taken over the world, where people find the weirdest positions imaginable to “plank” in. Instead I’d like to talk a little about possibly the best core exercise known to man, which actually serves some purpose!

The plank has been considered one of the best exercises for your core strength, and for good reason. Not only does it target the abdominal region, but it works just about every muscle in your body one way or another. While most people think that the core consists of just your abs, the posterior core is just as important, if not more so than the anterior. The posterior core mainly consists of all of the muscles that run along your spine, from your neck all the way down past your lower back. Making sure that these muscles are worked as efficiently and effectively as your abs is essential in becoming stronger in all things exercise and fitness related. That’s why the plank is so great!

The list of primary muscles that are active while performing a plank are as follows: rectus abdominus (abs), transverse abdominus (deep core muscles), and erector spinae group (posterior core).

There are also secondary, or stabilizing muscles that are active as well: trapezius, rhomboids, deltoids, rotator cuff, pecs, glutes, quadriceps, and calves.

Aside from being a great exercise for core strength, being that the plank is an isometric hold (constant contraction of a muscle), it gets your heart rate up fairly quickly, therefore leading to an increase in metabolism. However, due to this physiological response, people with high blood pressure should refrain from doing a plank as it will drastically increase your BP.

The basic form for a plank is to form a 90 degree angle from your shoulders to your forearm and hold yourself up with your toes on the ground. The key is to keep your neck, back, and legs completely straight. No dropping your hips, causing your lower back to arch. And no sticking your butt high in the air. Keep completely straight! Ideally, you could hold it for 3 sets at 30 seconds each. But that depends on your personal fitness levels. For instance, the world record for holding a continuous plank is 1 hour and 20 minutes! So, determine your capabilities and continue accordingly.

If a regular plank is too hard, you can simply drop your knees to the ground and hold that position. Or, you could make it more difficult by raising one arm or one leg. And even harder, is holding your opposite arm and opposite leg in the air at the same time! Below are some pictures of these variations.

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Posted by on February 20, 2013. Filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry