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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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      Content Marketer and Fitness Enthusiast

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      Last Updated on October 4, 2021

      5 Best Exercises for Weight Loss at Home

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      5 Best Exercises for Weight Loss at Home

      With the lines of work and home becoming increasingly blurry, it’s no wonder why we struggle to find the time to prioritize our health. Particularly with weight loss, it’s often difficult to manage the ever-present constraints around work, children, time to exercise, and the feeling of exhaustion at the end of the day.

      Taking the effects of stress and the rise of remote work and work-from-home situations, we need to be far more tactical in our weight loss pursuits. Quite often, these exercises for weight loss at home aren’t even fitness-related.

      Firstly, let’s look at a standard day in the life of a busy professional or parent to really understand the battlefield in which we need to operate.

      We all have 24 hours in a day to work with. Knowing how we spend that 24 hours is crucial when learning where time will be best spent for our weight loss journey. Setting unrealistic expectations can be a quick way to end up back at square one.

      • Sleep: 8 hours (parents, if you’re lucky)
      • Work: 8 hours (sometimes more)
      • Children: 2 to 4 hours (includes pickups, drop-offs, and play)
      • Meal Preparation: 1 hour (at a minimum)
      • Household Activities: 1 to 2 hours (because someone’s got to do it, right?)
      • Total: 20 to 22 hours

      Taking into account that switching between tasks takes time and cognitive space, we can start to understand why people just want to sit and scroll through social media at the end of a day. We also haven’t factored in the work commute if you have to report to the office.

      Just realized you now have minimal time to yourself? This might start to explain why you struggle to gain momentum in your weight loss journey. Let’s work out how to take back the initiative:

      • Automate – Are there any tasks you can automate? If you’re fortunate enough to be gainfully employed, maybe it’s time to hire a cleaner or have ready-made meals delivered to your door. It doesn’t have to happen every night, but removing the decision of “what’s for dinner?” can be a great way to reduce stress and free up brain space and time.
      • Optimize – If you’re time-poor with kids, it’s time to optimize your activities. Turn screen time into playtime outdoors, and get them to join in on your activities. If your children are old enough, it might be time to start offering pocket money for chores and meal preparation. This strategy helped me stay fit as a single parent. By getting out and active with my son, I doubled my return on investment by staying fit and enhancing my relationship.
      • Eliminate – We’re only human. Sometimes, we simply have too much on our plate due to our high expectations. Take a look through your daily tasks and work out what can be removed.

      Now, go through this exercise yourself. What potential spare time do you have to work with? If the answer is none, you might want to keep reading.

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      Exercise Selection: It’s Not All About the Burn

      No equipment? No problem.

      So, we’re finally tracking the elements that matter. It’s time to start leveraging exercise to accelerate our weight loss journey. Alongside focusing on individual exercises that help with weight loss at home or caloric expenditure, we’re going to focus on another method to help keep you consistent and accountable for the long term: interest.

      Interest has been linked as one of the key motivating factors to maintain consistency towards a goal. By choosing a form of exercise that your body and mind can enjoy, your chances of weight loss success are far greater.

      Here’re the 5 best exercises for weight loss at home:

      1. Low-Intensity Interval Training (LIIT)

      Maybe the body isn’t what it used to be, and intense forms of training simply just aren’t safe anymore. Also considering the body’s response to stress, it might be in our very best interest to choose low-intensity activities that we can repeat daily.

      Mobility and movement flows have risen in popularity in recent years. This form of exercise focuses on restoring range of motion (ROM), improving stability, and returning people to activity. Some exercise options include:

      • Quadruped Rocks
      • Frog Stretch
      • Hip Prying
      • Scapula Push-ups
      • Hindu push-ups

      Below is a 10minute warm-up flow that shows you how to put all of this together:

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      2. Yoga

      Yoga is another perfect example of LIIT methodology that can be advanced as your ability improves. Focusing on mobility, stability, and range of movement using only your body weight, it’s a perfect entry-level activity for those that may have lost their way on their weight loss journey.

      3. Calisthenics

      Strength training at home can be difficult when you lack equipment or experience. An obvious path to building strength at home is calisthenics. Starting with just the following basic bodyweight movements:

      You can begin your journey with no equipment and build to quite an advanced level. Here are five movements you can look to master over time are:

      Depending on your ability, choose movements that allow you to progress safely over time. There is also gymnastics-based training you can move towards if your body is ready for a more demanding form of training.

      4. Aerobic Exercise

      Another underrepresented form of exercise, aerobic exercise is often overlooked for its sexier counterparts like strength and HIIT. With the prevalence of obesity nearly tripling between 1975 and 2016 and the major cause in adults being cardiovascular disease, it makes sense to focus on activities that improve cardiovascular or heart health.

      Another benefit is that it can be as simple as getting your steps in, going for a swim, or going for an easy ride or run. Phil Maffetone pioneered the Maximum Aerobic Function (MAF) Method that almost anyone can adopt regardless of fitness level and experience.[1]

      Here’s a 30-minute session of aerobic exercises you can try:

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      5. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

      High-intensity interval training is a great way to elevate the heart rate and get the endorphins flowing. It can also be super time-effective, giving you a great bang for your buck. Try sequencing some of the movements and exercises above together with minimal rest to keep your heart rate elevated. Be sure to select movements that suit your current level of fitness and ability.

      Here’s a HIIT workout that takes little time and is suited for any level:

      Chipper 60

      Complete all reps of every exercise for time. Exercises can be done in any order and repetitions to complete the workout.

      If you can’t do jump squats, regress to normal squats, and don’t be afraid to change the leg raises to a 60-second plank if you need to. Finish up with some light stretching or foam rolling.

      What Also Matters: Sleep, Stress, and Stimulants

      Sleep, stress, and stimulants, also known as the hamster wheel of death. Tracking these elements gives us the power to finally stop relying on our ever-depleted stores of discipline and motivation to get the job done. It will also highlight the self-destructive habits that sabotage your weight loss journey.

      Simply put, stress affects stimulants, sleep affects stress, and the vicious cycle continues.

      Sleep

      Are you getting enough sleep? It’s well documented that sleep is an important factor in weight loss and recovery.

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      “Restricted sleep and poor sleep quality may lead to metabolic disorders, weight gain, and an increased risk of obesity and other chronic health conditions.”[2]

      Start this journey by tracking how much sleep you’re getting. Certain wearables can also track the amount of movement and time you spend awake or in lighter sleep cycles. Getting enough time in REM or deep sleep is critical for weight loss.

      Stress

      We don’t need to be fancy. A simple daily measurement out of ten indicates how much stress we think we are under. Using this number, we can observe the effects that sleep, stimulants, and exercise have on our stress levels, allowing us to deploy the right strategy for our weight loss goals.

      Stimulants

      Stimulants can be classified as anything we put in our mouths. Tracking calories, alcohol, and caffeine is a great way to observe, predict, and avoid trends or at-risk periods of overeating and destructive behaviors. Tracking this is aligned with how well we sleep, and our stress response gives us enough information to start forming better weight loss habits.

      Work to identify the trigger, observe the response, and then look to adjust.

      Final Thoughts

      Whether you’re fighting fit or returning to activity, the best exercises for weight loss at home are the ones that you can do day in day out that you enjoy. Think of exercise for weight loss as we do for compound interest. Consistently and regularly making deposits may not show immediately, but with time, they give you the momentum you need to reach your goals.

      Featured photo credit: Olivia Bauso via unsplash.com

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      Reference

      [1] PhilMaffetone: Maximum Aerobic Function
      [2] SleepFoundation.org: Why is sleep so important to weight loss?

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