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Last Updated on March 18, 2021

7 Things That Will Happen When You Do Planks Every Day

7 Things That Will Happen When You Do Planks Every Day

Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion.

Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do because they require a small time investment but offer the chance to achieve substantial results.

The Importance of Core Strength

There are numerous sites and blogs that detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. However,, these sites often neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such, a strong core can greatly improve your ability to move and exercise more effectively.

Also, they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection, such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and so are important aids in preventing injuries. However, for them to be most effective, you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

In short, plank exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles overall, making them an amazingly effective exercise to perform.

If you believe you’re too busy to get into an exercise routine, check out Lifehack’s Busy Yet Fit Course. It will help you get into the exercise habit, where you can incorporate planks each day.

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The Benefits of Planks

There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as a plank workout. However, planks benefit far more than just your core strength.

By holding yourself in the position for a plank exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This is encouraging their buildup and development, which is great news if you like to do press ups.

When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps, and by holding a plank position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. This makes planks a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep-developing exercises.

Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your buttocks. These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding planks helps develop the muscles in your thighs, too.

What is even better is that plank exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in a plank position.

7 Things That Happen When You Do Planks Every Day

1. Improved Core Definition

Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles because they engage all major core muscle groups, including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominus, the external obliques, and the glutes[1]. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

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  • Transverse abdominis: Increased ability to lift heavier weights.
  • Rectus abdominis: Improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
  • Obliques: Improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
  • Glutes: A supported back and a strong buttocks.
  • Core-Strengthening Exercises That Target Every Ab Muscle | Fitness | MyFitnessPal

    2. Decreased Risk of Back Injury

    Doing planks is a type of exercise that allows you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. Planks can strengthen your back muscles and ensure more support and stability for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

    3. Metabolism Boost

    Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The core muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy, even when sedentary, because they are some of the largest muscles in the body.

    This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate, but it will also ensure that your metabolism remains high all day long.

    4. Improved Posture

    Planks have a great impact and improvement on your posture. A strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits. It keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment, which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained, but it also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

    A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position, so you will suffer less back pain. On top of everything else, someone with good posture looks healthier and more confident overall.

    5. Improved Balance

    Have you ever felt that when you try standing on one leg, you can’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you are just clumsy, but rather because your abdominal muscles aren’t strong enough to give you the balance you need.

    Many people assume that balance is mostly based on the legs, but most of the work is actually happening in your core as it keeps you stable and upright. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions, you will boost your balance and performance in every kind of fitness activity.

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    6. More Flexibility

    Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, as this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups—shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone—while also stretching your hamstrings, the arches of your feet, and the toes.

    With side planks added to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes,a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

    7. Improved Mood

    Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. This works because they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body.

    Imagine you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long. Your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours, and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day.

    These are all circumstances that put stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression…but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

    How to Hold a Plank Position

    Doing planks correctly takes practice, and it will be very difficult until you build up your muscles a bit. Here is an overview to help you get into a regular plank position:

    1. Get into a push-up position on the floor.
    2. Bend your elbows 90 degrees, and rest your weight on your forearms for a forearm plank position.
    3. Keep your torso straight and rigid, and form a straight line from head to toe with no sagging or bending.
    4. Your head is relaxed, and you should be looking at the floor.
    5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
    6. Remember to breathe by inhaling slowly and steadily.
    7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefitting from planks when your form is good.

    Here’s a great video to demonstrate how to do a proper plank:

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    Furthermore, here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

    Plank 5 minute workout

      How to Plank Each Day

      You’re likely wondering how many planks each day are necessary to see benefits, and how long you should hold them.

      If you can only do one plank a day, then start with that. Aim to hold it for at least 60 seconds, but if you need to start with less, then do so, and build up from there.

      Doug Sklar, a certified personal trainer, recommends striving to do three sets of up to 60 seconds, so this can be the goal you aim for when you begin your plank adventure[2].

      A Word of Caution

      You need to be cautious doing planks if any of these risks apply to you:

      • Prolapse
      • After prolapse surgery
      • Pelvic pain conditions
      • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
      • Recent childbirth
      • Obesity

      Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing planks regularly.

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      The Bottom Line

      Planks are a simple and power-packed total body exercise that can help you build strength in your lower and upper body, engage your core, and stabilize your joints. Even doing just one minute of planks a day can achieve amazing results over time, so get started today!

      More Home Workout Exercises To Try

      Featured photo credit: Minna Hamalainen via unsplash.com

      Reference

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      Content Marketer and Fitness Enthusiast

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      Last Updated on April 19, 2021

      15 Static Stretches to Totally Enhance Your Workout Routine

      15 Static Stretches to Totally Enhance Your Workout Routine

      Stretching is one of those aspects of fitness that many people conveniently forget about. Perhaps you’re one of those who consider stretching nothing but a mere chore meant for ballerinas and gymnasts. While they are great for both, static stretches can offer a boost to any workout routine for people of all fitness levels.

      Irrespective of your reasons for working out, be it for sports or personal fitness, one thing is certain: stretching can help you. Static stretches come with myriads of benefits, such as improvement in flexibility and reduction in muscle tightness, which ultimately allow you to go through your workout routines with greater efficiency.

      For the purpose of this article, we’ll zero in on several great static stretches and take a look at the benefits and when they should be done.

      Benefits of Static Stretches

      Static stretches come with tons of benefits that can help you make the most of your workout routine. Some of them include:

      Improved Flexibility

      If you want to perform better, flexibility is of tremendous importance, irrespective of the specific workouts you do. Luckily enough, static stretches are all you need to get all the flexibility you desire.

      Flexibility, also known as the range of motion (ROM) around a joint, has been shown by several studies to be improved by static stretching.[1]

      Although the specific mechanism through which this occurs is still unclear, static stretches have been shown to greatly increase muscle and joint flexibility[2] and tissue length[3], which work in tandem to make your workout more effective.

      Prevent Injuries

      If you’re looking to push yourself to your training limits without coming down with injuries, then stretching will do you a great service. Research has shown time and again that performing the right stretches pre- and post-workout greatly helps with injury prevention.[4]

      Think of it this way:

      When you stretch, you literally push your joints and muscle fibers to their limit. This increases the stretch tolerance in these muscles and joints over time, and the increased tolerance allows you to perform more rigorous exercises without negatively impacting your body or risking an injury.

      Increased Blood Flow to the Joints

      Another benefit of stretching is increased blood flow – and by extension, nutrient supply – to the joints and muscles of the target areas. This, in turn, improves the performance of these muscles and joints due to the availability of more nutrients, improved oxygenation, and removal of metabolites.

      For static stretching, though, the mechanism of action isn’t as straightforward. When stretching statically, blood flow (capillary oxygenation) temporarily reduces due to vascular compression.

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      However, immediately after releasing the stretch, the blood flow to these areas nearly doubles the pre-stretching levels.[5]

      Improvement in Recovery

      If you’ve been working out for some time, then you’ve probably discovered that a rigorous workout session can leave you battling sore muscles for days.

      Recovery essentially means getting rid of this soreness and returning your muscle fibers back to their tip-top condition.

      Research has shown that practicing static stretches after your workout session helps to reduce muscle soreness. And while some may argue that this effect is minimal, the fact still remains that stretching does help shorten your recovery time.

      Stretching allows tissues to be better hydrated after the induced tension is released, and this encourages reduced inflammation and faster repair of such tissues.

      Other reasons why you really should incorporate stretching into your workout include:

      • Improved relaxation
      • Increased movement efficiency
      • Reduction in the risk of lower back pain
      • Reduction in muscle tension
      • Improvement in neuromuscular coordination
      • Improvement in balance and postural awareness
      • Relief from cramping

      15 Static Stretches to Enhance Your Workouts

      Here are some amazing exercises that will keep your body in tip-top condition and take your workout routine to the next level.

      1. Neck Stretch

        While sitting tall or standing, place your right arm gently on the right side of your head, and place the other arm out to your side. Slowly pull your head towards your right shoulder until you can feel the stretch on the left side of your neck. Hold for about 30 seconds before releasing, and repeat for the opposite side.

        Many people tend to hold stress and tension in their neck and shoulders. If you find this is the case, this is one of the best static stretches to use for a muscle release in this area.

        2. Chest Stretch

          Stand upright, with your fingers interlocked behind your back, near your buttocks. While keeping your shoulder blades together and your back straight, push your arms up behind you until you feel the stretch in your chest. Hold for about 20-30 seconds before releasing.

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          3. Cross-Body Shoulder Stretch

          Shoulder Cross-Arm Stretch « CASS FITNESS

            Stand upright or sit up tall on a chair or mat, and extend one arm out in front to shoulder height. Grab the extended arm with your other arm, and pull it towards your chest while keeping the extended arm straight. Continue the pull until you feel the stretch in your shoulder. Hold for 30 seconds, and repeat for the other arm.

            4. Triceps Static Stretch

              Lift your arms overhead, with both arms slightly behind your head and bent at the elbow. Use your right hand to pull your left elbow until you feel a stretch in your triceps. Hold for about 30 seconds, and repeat for the other arm.

              Many know this stretch from gym class, but it really is one of the best static stretches for the arms.

              5. Biceps Stretch

              Arm Exercises | Seated Bent-Knee Biceps Stretch

                Sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. With your fingers pointing away from your body, place your two palms flat on the floor behind you. While your hands are steadily in place, slowly slide your butt downward toward your feet until you can feel the stretch in your biceps, shoulders, and chest. Hold for about 30 seconds before releasing.

                6. Wrist Stretch

                11 Best Tennis Elbow Exercises For Pain Free Mobility [PDF]

                  While standing up straight or sitting tall, extend your right arm forward to shoulder height with your fingers pointing toward the ceiling. Grab your right fingers with your left hand, and pull your right hand to bend the wrist until you can feel the stretch. Hold this position for about 30 seconds, and repeat for the opposite arm.

                  7. Side Stretch

                    Stand straight with your feet hip-width apart. Take your right arm and reach over your head towards your left side while bending your side. Keep bending your side slowly until you can feel a stretch on your right side. Maintain this position for about 30 seconds, and repeat for the opposite side.

                    The muscles down your side body are notoriously difficult to stretch out. This is one of the best static stretches to try on a consistent basis to get them loosened up.

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                    8. Abdominal Static Stretch

                      Lie down on your stomach with your face towards the ground and your palms facing the floor as though you’re about to do a push up. While keeping your pelvis firmly on the floor, gently push your upper body up from the ground. This should make your feel some stretch in your abs. Maintain this position for about 30 seconds before releasing.

                      9. Reclined Spinal Twist

                      Supta Matsyendrasana - Supine Spinal Twist - Yogaasan
                        Lie down, with your arms extended to the sides and placed on the floor. While keeping the right leg straight, pull up your left knee towards your chest, tilt it toward your right side, and then drop it slowly over your extended right leg.

                        Keep your shoulder blades flat on the ground, and you should feel the stretch around your back. Hold for about 30 seconds and repeat for the opposite side.

                        10. Knees to Chest

                        Knee-to-chest exercise from Physical Therapists' Advice to Manage Pain at Home - The Active Times

                          Lie on the ground facing the ceiling, with your knees bent. Hold your shins, and pull your knees toward your chest. This should make you feel some stretch in your lower back. Hold for about 30 seconds before releasing. If you’re looking to loosen up your back muscles, this is one of the static stretches you can do daily.

                          11. Hip Flexor Static Stretch

                          How to Do the Standing Lunge Stretch

                            Stand upright in a standard lunge position, and place your two hands on your hips. Step out on your right foot into mini-lunge position, without your knee going beyond your right toe. Hold for about 30 seconds and repeat for the left side.

                            12. Figure 4 Stretch

                            How to Do a Figure 4 Stretch | Openfit

                              Sit tall on the ground with both knees bent and both feet on the floor. Lift your right leg and cross it over your left thigh, while your left knee remains bent. Pull both legs inwards toward your abdomen for a deep stretch of your glutes. Hold this position for about 30 seconds, and repeat with the other leg.

                              13. Standing Quad Stretch

                                Stand tall while maintaining a straight posture. With your left hand, grab a pole, wall, or anything durable for balance. With your right hand, grab your right foot and pull up your heels until they touch your buttocks.

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                                Keep your knees close together while doing this, push your hip forward, and you should feel the stretch in your quadriceps. Hold this position for about 30 seconds, and repeat for the other side. This is one of the best static stretches for the quads.

                                14. Hamstring Stretch

                                  Sit on the floor with your right leg extended straight in front of you and your left leg bent. Reach forward with your right hand, and touch your right toes. This should cause a stretch in your right hamstring.

                                  Hold this position for about 30 seconds, and repeat for the left leg. If you’re unable to reach your toes, try holding your shin instead, but seek to go further every time you perform the stretch until you can touch your toes.

                                  15. Calf Stretch

                                    Sit on the ground and extend your right foot straight in front of you. Gently pull your right toes backwards with your right hand. This should cause a noticeable stretch in your calf.

                                    Hold this position for about 30 seconds and repeat for the left leg, if you’re unable to reach your toes, use a rope or towel to pull your toes inward.

                                    Bonus: Stretch With a Resistance Band

                                    Resistance bands offer a unique benefit from free weights and create tension throughout your movement. Get the free 30 Day Resistance Band Full Workout Challenge, and challenge yourself to stretch with a resistance band.

                                    When Should You Do Static Stretches?

                                    Static stretching is great when done correctly and at the right time. Over the years, research has shown that static stretching produces best results when done after working out or on rest days,[6] but not as a part of warm up routines before an explosive workout session.

                                    This is because static stretches have a cool-down effect on each muscle group and are more effective when done after the muscles are already warm.

                                    That doesn’t mean you must never ever perform static stretches before working out, but do it sparingly. Dynamic stretches, which involve more movement, are generally recommended for warming up as it helps the body prepare better for the work ahead.

                                    The Bottom Line

                                    Carving out the body of your dreams isn’t only about lifting weights and running. You need to keep your body “elastic” if you’re going to make the most of your training, and that’s the whole point of static stretches.

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                                    Starting today, be sure to incorporate these static stretching exercises into your routine, and in no time, you’ll find yourself recovering faster and performing better than ever before.

                                    More Tips on Stretching

                                    Featured photo credit: Alora Griffiths via unsplash.com

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