Over the years, more people have been starting to workout because the emphasis on health has become increasingly important. Nowadays, you have more products, supplements, and cardio workouts in the markets than ever before. Some of the most popular are include high-intensity interval training, and the 21-day fix, which is focused on nutrition. If you visit a sports store, you’ll notice an increased selection in equipment like weights, bags, benches, and resistance bands. They are more affordable now (as compared to several years back) because the cost of manufacturing has gone down considerably.
In the last seven years, I’ve tried almost every type of work program possible, and I recently started to incorporate resistance training instead of weights. This has reduced injuries, which are associated with heavy weight training, and has improved muscle tone.
For those of you looking to get started working out, or want to try something different, here are some benefits of using resistance bands in your training.
1. They’re Cost Effective
Compared to traditional weights and workout equipment, resistance bands are very affordable, costing no more than $40.00 for a pair. If you have purchased heavy weights and benches, then you know you’d be spending $200 or more on quality equipment. With resistance bands, you can find them at a local sports store for around $40.00, or, if you buy a used pair, you can find them for a cheaper price. You can do a quick search on Kijiji or eBay, where you’ll find used resistance bands for $15.00.
If you are buying a used pair, it’s important to make sure they are adjustable, which you’ll learn the importance of next.
2. They’re Adaptable for Multiple Fitness Levels
The newer model resistance bands are adjustable, so they can be used by people with different fitness needs and abilities. For example, when you purchase actual weights, you may have to buy a huge selection so you’re ready when you decide to move up in weight levels. This can cost a lot of money, and after you move up, you’ll have no need for lower weights. On the other hand, with adjustable resistance bands, you can purchase one pair that can still be used when you decide to move up in strength level.
I’m sure you’ve visited a gym before, and the first thing you notice is how much space is required for all the equipment, which takes up a lot of room. But with resistance bands, you won’t run into that problem because you can easily store them in your closet. When you purchase bulky weight equipment, you’ll need a dedicated space to fit everything, and they often require space to move around and perform each exercise. However, with resistance bands, you can work out in your living room, basement, bedroom, and even backyard. After your workout is done, you can wrap the resistance bands and stow them away.
5. You Can Take Them On the Road
When traveling, you might be concerned that you won’t have time to work out, or that it would be expensive to go to a local gym. With resistance bands, you can place them in your baggage and pull them out to work out in your hotel room, or, should it have one, in the hotel’s gym. You won’t miss a workout, and this keeps you feeling great every day.
6. You Can Use Them Alone
When lifting heavy weights, it’s recommended you have someone to “spot” you just in case you get stuck on your last repetition. With no one watching you, it’s possible you can seriously injure yourself by dropping a heavy weight on your chest, head, or arms. With resistance bands, you won’t face this problem because they are very easy and safe to use even when you’re alone.
7. You Can Combine Them with Other Equipment
If working out is your passion and you like to mix things up, then resistance bands can be combined to give you diversity. For example, resistance bands can be combined with benches, pull-down machines, dumbbells, and ab machines. This gives you a chance to keep your exercises different each month. But, if you want to switch back to just resistance bands, then this can be done easily, too.
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. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.
Why is it important to train up our core strength?
There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites 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 will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.
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 as such 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, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.
There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.
By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.
When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.
Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! 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 the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.
What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.
7 Things that happen when you start doing planks every day
1. You’ll improve core definition and performance
Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominus, the external oblique muscle, and the glutes. 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:
Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.
2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column
Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.
Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.
3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism
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 muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).
4. You’ll significantly improve your posture
Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .
A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but 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 and so you will suffer less back pain.
On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.
5. You’ll improve overall balance
Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!- but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.
6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before
Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shoulders, shoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in 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. You’ll witness mental benefits
Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: 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 too 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
Get into pushup position on the floor.
Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
Hold the position for as long as you can.
Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.
Watch the video if you have any doubt!
Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:
How to improve your plank time gradually
Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.
Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.