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Last Updated on March 18, 2021

7 Things That Will Happen When You Do Planks Every Day

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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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      Szabo Laszlo

      Content Marketer and Fitness Enthusiast

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      Last Updated on September 16, 2021

      9 Simple Cardio/Core Exercises You Can Do At Home

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      9 Simple Cardio/Core Exercises You Can Do At Home

      You want to work out but you don’t always have the time to implement a workout routine into your busy day. Finding time for daily exercise takes discipline and commitment, and often you feel like you need to go for a long run or intense workout at the gym in order to feel a sense of accomplishment.

      There are many simple exercises you can do at home in order to improve your strength, agility, and cardio vascular endurance. The problem with some at-home workout routines or quick exercise routines is that you might be doing the wrong kind of exercise.

      If you are trying to build upper body strength you don’t need to do squats or calf raises. On the other hand, if you are trying to build lower body strength knocking out a ton of pushups and bench dips isn’t going to help either. Make sure you determine what you want to improve on before you undertake an exercise regimen.
      Often people focus too much on upper body and lower body strength when the core of your body needs more attention than any other part. Your core keeps you stable and balanced. I like to think of it as the fulcrum of your body. Without a strong core you probably aren’t going to experience as much strength and stability in your upper and lower body. Mixing in intense cardio is always a good idea as well, and you don’t need to run 10 miles to do it.

      Instead of trying to 1,000 pushups per day focus on building your core along with some cardio. I guarantee you will feel stronger and more energetic than you ever have before, and your body will thank you.

      Here are 9 great exercises that will improve your cardio and core strength. I have also included a sample workout plan at the end of the article which incorporates all of these exercises, so please read carefully so you know how to perform each exercise properly.

      Please consult a medical professional first if you have any injuries or medical conditions to ensure you are able to perform physical activity.

      1. Sitting Holds

      This is a very simple but effective exercise to burn the core, legs, and arms all at once. Additionally you get to sit down while doing it, so it can’t be that bad!

      Sit down in a position with your feet off the ground, straight out in front of you. Hands should be extended out in front as well. You are simply going to hold this position for a given amount of time.

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      Try not to strain and tighten up your body too much while doing this. This is especially important with the back and neck. If you find yourself straining too much than stop. You can always build on the amount of time you hold this posture.

      It is important that you also stay as still as possible throughout the duration of the hold. It is going to get difficult but challenge yourself to remain in the steady position throughout.

      2. Burpees

      Some people love them. Some people hate them. Even though I do these quite a bit during my summer training, I fall in the latter group. They are very challenging, but in my opinion, there is no better exercise that incorporates complete body training (core, cardio, upper body and lower body strength). You even get a little upper body strength training when you do these, so it is a win-win.

      To do a burpee start standing straight up with your feet little more than shoulder width apart. Bring your hands to the ground in between the distance of your legs but slightly in front of your body. When you come down to the ground bend at the hips not at the back. You should bends your knees with your back straight as you bring your hands to the ground.

      As soon as your hands are on the ground, you will jump back with your legs, so that you are in a plank position (hands are shoulder width apart aligned with your chest and your back is straight, not hunching towards the ground; legs are straight back and shouldn’t be touching the ground). For an extra challenge add a pushup at this point of the burpee.

      After you get into the plank position you immediately bring your legs back up to your hands (like they were before you kicked them back into the push up position). With your knees bent, come up and jump straight up in the air. That is 1 repetition.

      3. Mountain Climbers

      If climbing mountains isn’t your forte than this will be probably be the closest you get to climbing an actual mountain. This is a great workout for your core, cardio, and lower body.

      You are going to start in a plank position. It is important that you keep your core tight and strong the entire time you do this exercise. The tendency during this exercise is for your body to droop towards the ground or be arched towards the sky as you get tired. You want to make an effort to keep your back straight and don’t allow it to come out of the perfect push up position. This can lead to back problems.

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      From the push up position you alternate your feet up and back towards your stomach. You are trying to knee yourself in the stomach (not literally but for the exercise purpose). When the right knee comes up, the left knee stays back. When the right knee goes back, the left knees comes up towards the stomach. You do this as rapidly as you can. You want a full range of motion so ensure you are bringing your knees up as far as possible and stretching them back as much as possible.

      Your hands shouldn’t be too far out in front of you. They should be right around your shoulders. By this, you are also receiving an upper body workout because you are holding the plank position as well as moving your feet as fast as possible.

      4. Running High Knees

      This is a great cardio exercise that incorporates an intense range of motion from your legs. You can do this exercise running in place or with movement. The goal of this exercise is to get your knees up as high as possible and as quickly as possible. It is beneficial when you stay on your toes and utilize quick movements. As soon as your toe hits the ground you explode back up with your knee.

      Use your arms properly when doing this exercise. Similar to running you want to alternate your hand and knee movements. When the right knee goes up, the left arm comes up simultaneously. When the right knee goes down, the left arm goes down. Maintaining an effective arm and leg movement balance will help you get into a rhythm as you speed up and increase the intensity of the exercise.

      5. Step Ups

      Find something in your house that is solid and won’t move if you step on it. I suggest using a sturdy couch or chair, maybe even a bench if you have one available. If you don’t have anything solid then place a chair against the wall so it won’t move. Make sure the height of the chair or bench is not too high to where you can’t step onto it comfortably.

      The goal of this exercise is explosive movements. Again you are focused on a complete range of motion. Step up onto the platform of your choosing with one leg. With the opposite leg you are going to explode it in the air and then step back down onto the ground. If this motion is too difficult than simply step onto the platform with the other leg. Alternate legs and repeat.

      Use your arms effectively during this exercise to ensure that you give your arms a solid workout, and to assist you as you explode your legs onto the platform. For example when you put your right leg onto the platform, the left arm is already up in the air. As you explode onto the platform with the left leg, the right arm raises up to boost this movement. The left arm falls to the side.

      As you create a dynamic pace, challenge yourself to see how quickly you can alternate feet. This will increase the intensity of the cardio. Stay on your toes and focus on swift movements up and down from the platform.

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      6. Jumping Jacks

      You probably did these when you were a kid. These are a staple for many youth physical education classes. Even though this is a basic exercise it can be quite effective when completed with vigor and you guessed it, full range of motion.

      Start standing straight up with your hands at your sides and your legs together. Jump your legs out so that they land wider than shoulder width apart. Simultaneously, your arms should move straight out over your head until your hands meet. It is not imperative that your hands touch over your but it is an effective reference point to ensure you use full range of motion with your arms. Then jump back to the starting point. This is one repetition.

      The focus of the exercise is to work both the lower body and the upper body. By jumping the legs to a point that is slightly uncomfortable you are stretching out the hips and gluteus maximus muscles, which are all essential for core strength as well.

      The more rapidly you perform this exercise the better cardio results you are going to experience. As is the case with most of these exercises, stay on your toes as much as possible. Try not to land on your heels when jumping out because this will restrict the pace at which you exercise.

      7. Towel Knee Bends

      This exercise is great for the entire body but it really targets the middle core. You will need a large towel or two small towels for this exercise as well as a slippery surface in which to perform it.

      Start out in a plank position with the towel(s) at your feet. Hands should be shoulder width apart underneath your shoulders. Bring both feet up at the same time as far as possible. Then bring your legs back down into the plank position. This is one repetition.

      Similar to the mountain climbers, you are attempting to knee yourself in the stomach. You don’t want your knees to come together because this takes away from the isolation of the exercise. Each leg must work on its own to thrust towards the stomach. This range of motion is important because you want to experience the full benefits of the exercise.

      Keep your core aligned the entire time you do this exercise. Don’t allow the back to hunch upward or slouch downward. Part of the challenge is holding the plank position coupled with the leg movement.

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      8. Towel In and Outs

      For this exercise you are going to need two small towels, one for each foot. Start out again in the plank position just as the previous exercise. This is a core exercise as well, but it focuses more on external oblique muscles, or the side of your abdominals.

      Instead of bringing both feet towards your stomach you are going to extend both feet outward, away from one another. You want to push your legs out as far as possible depending on how flexible you are in the hip region. Try to extend your legs at least shoulder width apart. If you are unable to stretch them that far, than go as far as you can. Then bring your legs back together to the starting plank position. That is one repetition.

      As the intensity of this exercise increases and you become tired, there is a tendency to use more legs than core. You want to try to avoid this. Concentrate on using your core to extend your legs back and forth. Do less reps if necessary but make sure this is a core exercise, not merely a lower body exercise.

      9. Wall Sit

      This title doesn’t leave much for the imagination. You are literally going to sit against the wall. This is a great way to finish your workout. It is primarily a lower body workout but it also integrates some core training.

      Sit against the wall with your back straight against the wall. Your feet should be right under your knees. Make sure your knees are not extended over your toes. This can be detrimental and cause knee pain. On the other hand your feet should not be extended too far out underneath your knees because this takes away from experiencing the stretch in your quadriceps and the rest of your legs. You should be sitting in a position with your knees bent at a 90 degree angle. Arms should be above your head or laterally at your side the entire time. Do not place your hands on your knees.

      Your Training Plan

      Exercise                               Repetitions/Time                                      Rest
      Sitting Hold                           15 seconds-1 minute                                   15 seconds
      Burpees                                5-20                                                           30 seconds-1 minute
      Mountain Climbers                 5-25 each leg                                              30 seconds-1 minute
      Running High Knees               5-15 each leg                                             30 seconds-1 minute
      Step Ups                              10-25 each leg                                            30 seconds-1 minute
      Towel Knee Bends                 5-20                                                           30 seconds-1 minute
      Towel In and Outs                  5-20                                                           30 seconds-1 minute
      Wall Sit                                 15 seconds-30 seconds                              30 seconds

      These are simply repetition and time estimates for a basic workout plan. I have no idea what your conditioning level is. If you can’t do the allotted repetitions, that is perfectly ok. Figure out how many repetitions you can do but challenge yourself by doing them correctly every time. When you can’t do anymore reps properly, then you are finished with that exercise.

      The rest periods are seemingly low and not enough time but in order to improve your cardio on your own it is imperative that you perform highly intensive exercises with shorter recovery times. This will challenge your cardio, help you lose fat, and stress your body in an appropriate manner. If it becomes too intense and you need more time to rest, than take the time you need. You know your body better than anyone else. These are mere guidelines. Eventually as you continue exercising you may notice you need less and less time to recover before the next exercise.

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      The amount of sets you execute is ultimately your decision. Start out with one set and see how it feels. If you are unable to complete one set of all these exercises, then finish what you are capable of. I think you will observe profound changes in your fitness levels by consistently taking the time to perform these exercises. Good luck and have fun!

      Featured photo credit: Girls With Muscle via girlswithmuscle.com

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