Miley may have started the twerking craze, pushing planking to the wayside, but it’s time for us to seize it back, runner style.
I love planks. I hate planks. They make my abs and all sorts of other places burn. They make me run more efficiently. Its your classic love-hate relationship.
Planks are an amazing exercise for all athletes as well as for anyone who is just looking to get fit and find some overall tone. This exercise, and its many variations, works so many muscles all at once and in a very short time frame.
While planks work your abdominal muscles from the very bottom up to the top of your tummy, they also work your obliques (goodbye love handles!). As they are busy doing all that greatness they are also working your shoulder muscles, spine, hips, and even your glutes to an extent. Even better, you don’t have to hold these for all that long or spend a ton of time doing them to realize their benefits.
Another benefit to planks is that they come in all sorts of different forms, making them accessible to beginners as well as elite athletes. Start with your basic plank and work your way up to make it more challenging.
I could spend all day chatting about the different types of planks you can do, but for this post I will go over a few basics to get your started. Try starting these by holding for 30 seconds with a goal of advancing to 1 minute. It isn’t easy…ignore the burn and you will reap the benefits. I like to do exercises in sets of eight, sorry but doing just one plank is not going bring out those washboard abs!
This is also a bit of a no excuses exercise. We are all busy but this can be done in a few minutes each day. You aren’t going to break out into a huge sweat so you can easily carve out a few minutes in the morning as you watch the news before you head out the door, or at night during your favorite show.
Get into a pushup position. Keep your tush flat, don’t raise your hips up. Keep everything flat with your shoulders over your wrists.
Bent Arm High Plank:
This one is great because you take your basic high plank and just give a slight bend to your arms. It is hard but you are going to work out your biceps and triceps in a major way, while still engaging your core.
This is similar to a high plank. Just make sure you are on a mat or a towel because this can hurt your forearms if you are on a hard surface. Keep your tush even with your back and don’t shove your shoulders out past your wrists. The shoulders are the most susceptible joint to injury, so show them some love.
This is a favorite of mine because, as you can see, you can multitask. You can tone up that core while you watch TV or as you post on Facebook about how much you hate (or love) planks!
Forearm Balance Plank:
Grab your foam roller, or another raised surface and hold your forearm plank just as you did on the floor. This one is awesome because it requires you to maintain balance while you are also holding your plank, giving your core an even bigger kick. Believe me you can feel it. This is my usual go-to for a quick core workout.
Say hello to your obliques. These guys require a little balance, but I find them to be a bit easier to do. This version of a plank will hone in more specifically on your obliques, targeting those dreaded muffin tops. Raise your upper leg to make it a bit harder.