Advertising
Advertising

5 Reasons Why You Should Think Twice Before Your Plank!

5 Reasons Why You Should Think Twice Before Your Plank!

What’s the best exercise you can do to strengthen your core?

For many people, the answer seems obvious – “The best core exercise is obviously the plank!” And, it makes sense that this is such a popular response. Planking has become synonymous with core training because of the potential benefits this one exercise can offer.

Planking targets deep abdominal muscles called the Transverse Abdominis (TVA). The TVA acts like a wide belt that supports your core, much like a weightlifter’s belt or a tight corset. Because planking develops these supportive muscles it is often thought to be the perfect exercise for avoiding injury, particularly lower back injury.

But wait, there’s more…

Performing a proper plank also recruits muscles in your back, glutes, legs, and shoulders, making it much more than just an exercise for your stomach. It really is a full-body exercise that can improve strength, posture, and muscle tone.

Advertising

So let’s all start doing more planks, right? Not so fast.

While there certainly can be benefits to practicing the plank, there are 5 reasons why you might want to think twice before making it your go-to core training exercise.

1. Using Proper Technique is Harder Than It Looks.

One of the draws to using a plank for core conditioning is the seeming simplicity of it. Drop onto your elbows and hold your body off the floor for as long as you can. What could be easier?

In actuality, perfecting a plank is an art form. Most people don’t realize that the position of the shoulder blades and hips, as well as the contraction of the glutes, quads, and tightening of the TVA are all necessary for an effective and safe plank. It’s far from a mindless exercise!

Check out the infographic below to get a better sense of how technical a plank can really be. Exercisers often miss these key points and therefore sacrifice many of the benefits a good plank can offer.

Advertising

Perfect Planks

    2. Holding a Longer Plank Isn’t Always Better.

    Holding a plank for long periods of time has become a bit of a badge of honour in the fitness community. If you can hold a 3-minute plank then you (and everyone you tell) can be sure that your core is really strong.

    Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work this way. As we just discussed, a perfect plank requires a lot of discipline that cannot be seen by onlookers. It is quite possible for someone to hold a nice-looking plank for several minutes without fully engaging their muscles. It’s a deceptive exercise.

    This results in two major problems. First, there becomes a competitiveness around planking that can lead people to losing form in favour of increasing plank duration. And second, a longer plank erroneously becomes a barometer for improvement when in fact, a longer plank is often achieved by relaxing into lazy form.

    3. It Doesn’t Train Your Core For Real Life Movements.

    Planking is a type of exercise known as an isometric. This simply means that your muscles are neither lengthening nor shortening while performing the exercise – You are holding a static position.

    Advertising

    Even though you’re not physically moving, your muscles still have to contract to fight against gravity, otherwise you’ll face-plant into the floor! Training isometrically will help you increase your core strength, but just how practical is that strength?

    When do you ever hold a plank position in real life? Even if you’re an athlete, how does a plank translate into performance?

    In contrast, there are many core training movements that require you to twist and bend much like you do every single day. Take for example the “Russian Twist” as demonstrated in the video below. This is an example of an isotonic exercise, one that translates into movements for everyday living, whether you are moving grocery bags into your car or swinging a baseball bat.

    4. Planking Can Be Dangerous For Your Lower Back.

    Plain and simple, planking with improper technique or when your core muscles aren’t properly trained is dangerous for your lower back.

    When the TVA muscles are not sufficiently strong enough to hold a plank, your body will quickly look to recruit other muscles to provide relief or it will shift into lazy form. Usually this results in sagging hips, which cause lordosis in the lower spine. In other words, your low back takes on an exaggerated curve and becomes susceptible to injury.

    Advertising

    Here’s what a lordotic curve looks like. Take a look around the gym and you will likely be able to spot exercisers who are experiencing this during their planks.

    Lordosis

      5. It’s Just Not As Effective As Other Exercises.

      Yes, practicing perfect planks with a strong focus on contracting all of the involved muscles is a good exercise for developing your core strength. But, according to several research studies, there are other core exercises that outperform the plank.

      Again, it goes back to the isometric nature of the plank. Holding a static position cannot recruit as many muscles, or recruit muscles to the same degree, as exercises that combine various movements and different muscle contractions.

      So which core exercise is best?

      Using Electromyogram (EMG) technology, researchers have determined that a “Rollback Pike” using a stability ball stimulates more muscle contractions than any other core exercise (yes, even more than a plank).

      Featured photo credit: Did I say eyeballs? / Tyler Bolken via flickr.com

      More by this author

      Planking 5 Reasons Why You Should Think Twice Before Your Plank! Steak 7 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Eat Beef Anymore How To Lose Weight Without Controlling Your Appetite

      Trending in Exercise

      1 8 Yoga Poses to Help You Achieve Strong and Toned Inner Thighs 2 3 Home Exercises To Fix Your Rounded Shoulders In One Month 3 Workout Every Day: Thursday Music Playlist 4 How To Get A Six-Pack In One Month 5 20 Rules to Live by for Those Who Want to Lose 10 Pounds in 3 Weeks

      Read Next

      Advertising
      Advertising
      Advertising

      Last Updated on April 19, 2021

      8 Weight Loss Tracker and Exercise Apps for Your Fitness Goals

      8 Weight Loss Tracker and Exercise Apps for Your Fitness Goals

      Are you frustrated by the fact that you haven’t been able to lose weight? Have you ever wondered if you don’t actually know how many calories you eat in a day? How much exercise do you ACTUALLY get, and why doesn’t anything seem to be working? A weight loss tracker can help you answer all of these questions and more.

      How can we start to see results and have the momentum to keep moving forward? The answer is simple:

      Have a game-plan and know exactly what is going on inside your body.

      If you really want to excel at your fitness goal, then you need to have a game-plan for success. You need to know what will keep you motivated, how to simplify things, how to be more efficient at your goals, and even find what you enjoy the most.

      You can start by checking out Lifehack’s Busy Yet Fit Course, which will help you get into the groove of working out, even if you have a busy lifestyle.

      If you’re blindly trying to chase your goals, then you probably feel about as hopeless as a carpenter with a butter-knife. So, it’s time to stock your toolbelt for success!

      I am about to show you the top weight loss tracker apps that will be game-changers for you. From nutrition trackers to step counters, these apps are sure to set you on the fast track to your fitness goals.

      Keep reading to find the apps that might just shoot you past your plateau and into the lifestyle you dream of.

      1. MyFitnessPal

        When it comes to the best weight loss tracker apps, this one takes the cake (The Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free, Vegan cake that is).

        MyFitnessPal is the best all around calorie counter that I have found on the market. This app is free and has almost all the calorie counting resources available to you. Not only does it seamlessly estimate the daily calories needed to hit your goal, but it also gives you the methods to track it.

        Advertising

        Just enter the ingredients of each meal you eat, and it will add up how many calories you eat. It can also scan product barcodes and automatically enter those calories for you.

        Going a step beyond that, this app also tracks your macros (according to your own customized goals) and nutrients. Furthermore, you can input a desired weight to track your weight loss journey.

        While that all seems impressive enough, this app also tracks exercise calories and can sync to Fitbit, MapmyRun, and other apps to measure your exact energy ratio.

        If you want a one-stop map to success, then this is it! This will not only help you develop a game plan, but will also create a flexible plan to get you there.

        Get the app here!

        2. Fitbit

          I know you’ve already heard of this app, and for good reason. Fitbit has been helping thousands step their way to health since it first came out.

          While investing in a Fitbit may not be cheap, I believe it to be well worth the investment.

          Fitbit will track your total amounts of steps each day. For those of you who are competitive, this is the perfect app to keep you moving and motivated throughout the day.

          This app can also sync with other fitness apps, like MyFitnessPal, to measure your exact energy expenditure each day. It’s a keeper for sure, especially if you’re looking for a great weight loss tracker.

          Get the app here!

          Advertising

          3. MapMyRun

            This is another one for the competitive, beginner, or exercise enthusiast. MapMyRun measures the distance that you run and even tracks your route. Furthermore, you can sync your daily results with MyFitnessPal to keep track of your daily calorie burn.

            If you want to go at it with a friend, you can challenge them in competitions that are sure to keep you both moving!

            Once, my husband ran for 2 miles just before midnight to beat me in a competition that was ending the next day. Talk about motivation!

            MapMyRun is perfect for those who like to challenge themselves, love to be part of a fitness community, or want a place for friends to hold them accountable to their goals.

            Get the app here!

            4. Zombies, Run!

              Are you having trouble pulling away from entertainment to go out and run? Then why not combine the two?

              ZombieRun is a fun app that is sure to get you moving if you are someone who is motivated by a good time. In fact, you might even have such a blast you will forget you are exercising!

              This app takes you through a storyline and makes you the hero. Each level will present a new challenge to help you progress and keep things exciting.

              You certainly won’t need to worry about your pre-workout. Imagining you are the hero in the story will be enough to keep your adrenaline pumping on its own.

              Advertising

              Just be sure not to move too slow or the “Zombs” (as we runners affectionately call them) might catch you!

              Get the app here!

              5. Prepear

                Are you tired of sitting down for hours and trying to strategize what to eat? This app helps cut this time in a quarter and is a great addition as a weight loss tracker.

                Simply add online recipes into your weekly meal plan (breakfast, lunch, and dinner), and it will organize all the ingredients you will need into a shopping list.

                With all your meal planning in one organized area, it will be easy to find which meal you plan to make for the day. This will keep your healthy recipes delicious. You will seriously never have to fret about meal planning again!

                Get the app here!

                6. Strava

                  If walking is your health resolution, this weight loss tracker might be for you. Strava is sure to get you into healthy habits that you enjoy. In fact, you might start losing weight before realizing that you’ve even been exercising.

                  This app enables you to track your trails and mileage, take pictures, and invite friends to join. It is a keeper for beginners and hikers alike.

                  Get the app here!

                  Advertising

                  7. Aaptiv

                    If you find yourself at the gym and not sure what to do, then this app might be for you. Aptive gives you workouts to do and instructs you how to do them.

                    While there’s nothing quite like the accountability of a personal trainer, Aaptiv is a great way to be guided through exercises without having to dish out tons of money.

                    The online instructors will guide you through the movements and keep you focused on finishing the workout. This app is sure to make you a gym rat in no time!

                    Get the app here!

                    8. Freeletics

                      Here’s one for those of you always on the move! Freeletics is an incredible app designed for people who just don’t have the time (or motivation) to drive down to the gym. Freeletics provides online workouts designed specifically from bodyweight with no equipment needed.

                      You will be surprised at what a great workout you can get without any equipment.

                      That’s right, you work-travelers; say goodbye to your excuses because this app is bringing the trainer to you!

                      Get the app here!

                      The Bottom Line

                      These 8 weight loss tracker apps are sure to revolutionize your fitness goals. Guesswork will no longer be a part of your fitness journey. These apps are like carrying professionals around in your pocket all day!

                      Get ready to be motivated, informed, and ready to start achieving your dreams!

                      More Tips for Weight Loss

                      Featured photo credit: Gabin Vallet via unsplash.com

                      Read Next