The core exists not only to contract or bend again and again, to twist and turn, but also to resist the force of rotation. We need strong cores to maintain a stable torso while working, whether it’s lifting heavy objects, carrying a heavy load, or transferring power from our hips while throwing a punch or a ball. . Having that stable, strong core with the ability to withstand the influence of outside forces that cause it to twist, twist, or bend is just as important as having the ability to perform a million sit-ups.
Enter the board. The key to success lies in its name: you form a rigid and immobile board with your whole body. From toes to head, you must be firm and not flabby.
Proper board shape
Planks seem like the simplest exercise imaginable, and while they’re not that complicated, there are a few things to keep in mind.
- Get into a push-up position, only put your forearms on the floor instead of your hands. Your elbows should line up directly below your shoulders. Toes on the ground.
- Squeeze your glutes and squeeze your abs. Imagine pinching a quarter between your buttocks.
- Look at the ground to keep a neutral neck and spine. You may feel like your chin is tucked in a bit.
- Tuck in your pelvis. Instead of arching your back, do a slight pelvic flexion to really engage your abs. The pelvic tuck also allows you to use your quads and push against the floor with your feet.
- Push against the ground. The shoulder blades should lengthen.
- Create a straight, strong line from head to toe. One consistent piece. In other words, a board.
- Hold this position.
What muscles do planks work?
The plank is a total body effort. When you’re in a plank position, every fiber of your being resists the pull of gravity. You must engage and tighten every inch of your body’s musculature to resist the collapse and maintain consistency along the line your body forms. During a plank, you’re literally holding the line against the most pervasive force in the known universe.
- Your abs are working to keep the spine from collapsing.
- Your glutes contract to support your lower back.
- Your spinal erector muscles are used to keep your spine cohesive and neutral.
- Your quadriceps contract to stabilize your legs.
- Your hip flexors are activated to prevent your hips from breaking.
- Your serratus muscle works to stabilize your shoulders.
And so on. You place your spine in the most disadvantageous position imaginable, exposed for every square inch to the pull of gravity. You’re working All during a plank.
Advantages of the board
Research shows that planks make you stronger, especially in your core muscles. They can even increase the thickness of your abdominal muscles. In poorly trained people, simply doing nothing but planks for a few weeks will increase their overall fitness level. Not just trunk strength, that is, but general physical condition.
Studies show that incorporating planks into athlete training can reduce injury rates by making their bodies more resilient. It turns out that having strong and stable core muscles makes you more resistant to all the different forces acting on you during athletic activity.
In short, planks are exercise, and exercise improves almost every marker of health you can imagine. The problem with planks is that they seem like an easy, low-intensity exercise that most people don’t even consider doing. For the uninitiated, a board may look like doing nothing at all.
If you’re bored of the traditional plank, there are other versions you can try.
Lever board long
Instead of placing your elbows directly below your shoulders, place them several inches in front of your shoulders, thus lengthening the lever and increasing the difficulty. Research shows that it increases the activation of various core muscles. The further your elbows are from your shoulders, the more difficult it becomes.
Do the plank on your side, supporting yourself with one hand resting on the floor and one edge of your foot wedged against the floor. Switch sides.
Get into the traditional plank position, only supporting yourself against the lateral side – either your left elbow and right foot are touching, or your right elbow and left foot are touching.
Things to remember
- Don’t let your hips sag all the way to the floor. Sagging the hips makes the exercise easier initially, but it’s not a plank and defeats the purpose of the exercise.
- Don’t look up! Look at the ground. This is a good prompt for maintaining a neutral neck position.
- Don’t go to failure. When your form starts to suffer, unplug it. You only benefit from the plank by doing the plank with proper technique.
- Don’t arch your back too much. Keep that pelvis tucked in.
Even if you never progress (or choose to progress) to the other plank variations, the basic plank, executed correctly, will be enough to build good core stability, strength, and overall resilience.
Do you have any other questions about the boards? Drop them below.