Are you looking for a specific exercise that will provide you with immense fitness and medical benefits? Are you looking for the most efficient exercise to shred your abs, strengthen your core, and improve your posture? If so, the plank exercise is right for you.
Most people think of our abdominal muscles when we discuss our core. These muscles are a significant component, but there are also other muscles that serve an integral role in the strength of our core. The muscles in our lower back, glutes, and hips play an important role to our core as well. Knowing this, we should all embrace the plank exercise because, if you can’t hold this pose for at least 50 seconds, then you might be prone to some serious health problems.
What is the plank exercise?
Before we discuss some of these health concerns, let’s first take a look at what exactly the plank is. Proper form is important for maximizing this exercise. Learning how to perform the plank will help you improve your core, glutes, hamstrings, balance, posture, and overall fitness.
To start a plank, enter the push-up position and hold your body off the ground. You should form and hold a straight line and follow the following steps:
- Hold your elbows directly under your shoulders; place wrists in line with your elbows.
- Contract your abdominal muscles, squeeze your glutes and thighs (don’t forget to breath normally).
- Hold the plank in the proper form. Beginners should shoot for 20-30 seconds; however, your goal should be at least 50 seconds.
- Avoid dropping your head, shoulders, or hips.
A weak core will lead to poor posture.
Poor posture is a telltale sign of a weak core. You have all seen people with poor posture and there are a multitude of factors that can lead to this. Some of these factors include: stress at home, stress at work, slouching at a desk, and even staring down at your phone.
Our lower back and abdominal muscles assist us in stabilizing our spine. If our muscles are weak, this will cause us to slouch. Here are some quick tips to improve your posture:
- Perform the plank exercise daily.
- Stand up straight.
- Pull your head back and up.
- Move your cellphone to eye level.
- Wear a posture belt.
Lower back pain is a telltale sign of a weak core.
A sure sign of weakness in our core is lower back pain. The curvature of our lumbar spine is negatively affected with a weak core. Lower back pain is one of our most common sources of pain.
Failure to improve your core can lead to serious health conditions. Here are a few tips to strengthen your core and lower back: exercise (such as the dynamic lumbar stabilization exercise), improve your posture, sleep in an optimal position, improve your flexibility, and of course, perform the plank exercise.
Poor balance is a sign that you may have a weak core.
If your core muscles are weak, then how do you expect them to stabilize your body? Poor balance is not easy to identify. How we maintain our balance is a function of our senses along with coordinated movement from different areas of our body.
Here is a quick option for a balance test. Use the following steps and test your balance:
- Step 1: Extend one leg forward.
- Step 2: Extend the same leg sideways.
- Step 3: Extend the same leg backwards.
- Step 4: Flex the same knee at a 90-degree angle.
The inability to hollow your stomach is a sign of a weak core.
An easy sign of a weak core is the inability to perform the stomach hollowing test. When you conduct this exercise, the intent is for your stomach to cave inwards when your abdomen contracts. You do this by taking a natural breath, pulling your abs in toward your spine, and holding it. If you lack the ability to do this, then you possess a weak core. See the image below for a visual representation of this exercise.
Overall weakness in your core muscles will lead to serious health conditions if not properly rectified. One guaranteed exercise that will improve every condition discussed in this article is the plank exercise. The benefits of performing the plank exercise are amazing. Not only will you strengthen your core, but you will also strengthen your lower back and upper body, improve your chances of avoiding injury, significantly improve your posture, and shred your abs!
Most importantly, planks can be done anywhere. You do not need a gym membership, a personal trainer, or any equipment. Heck, do your planks naked if you want! Two things will happen when you embrace the plank – your fitness will improve and so will your overall health.
So, what are you waiting for? Drop right now and start planking!
Featured photo credit: Gymjunkies.com via gymjunkies.com
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