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What Are Planks

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What Are Planks?

The plank is an isometric core strengthening exercise that involves maintaining the position for as long as possible.  When you have core strength you decrease the chance of back injuries and improves your posture. Beginners and intermediate levels can perform modified versions of the exercise and slowly progress to full plank, while adding time to the hold.  

The world record for planking while resting on the elbows is 4 hours and 28 minutes  by Danish fitness instructor, Tom Hoel.  If you’ve never done a this exercise, you won’t fully appreciate that record until you’ve given it a whirl.  I recommend starting out at 20-30 seconds, and increase by 10 seconds each day.  Or, see the challenge at the end of this post.  

 

Why I Love The Plank

The plank is by far one of my favorite exercises because it involves so many muscle groups and involves zero impact to bones and joints.  The plank is all about building core strength… that includes the abdominal wall, the pelvis, the lower back and the diaphragm.

The plank strengthens the abs, glutes, back, quads, arms and shoulder muscles.  And, the best part is, you’re done working all those muscles in 2 minutes or less!   I’ve included an instructive video that also shows how to modify the plank to fit your fitness level.

 

Plank Pose In Yoga

The plank pose in yoga is basically the same, only you combine it with other poses (usually downward facing dog, staff pose and crane pose) and it’s usually not held for more than 30-60 seconds.  I prefer adding the plank pose to my yoga practice, rather than doing a plank on it’s own.  But, that’s a personal preference.  If you are unable to fold into a complete pose, you can bend the knees slightly and/or use a yoga prop such as a yoga block so you get the benefit of the full stretch.  

How To Perform A Plank Pose In Yoga

  • Start in Adho Mukha Svanasana or Downward Facing Dog. Then, inhale and draw your torso forward until the arms are perpendicular to the floor and the shoulders directly over the wrists, torso parallel to the floor.
downward facing dog

Downward Facing Dog

  • Press your outer arms inward and firm the bases of your index fingers into the floor. Firm your shoulder blades against your back, then spread them away from the spine. Also spread your collarbones away from the sternum.
  • Press your front thighs up toward the ceiling, but resist your tailbone toward the floor as you lengthen it toward the heels. Lift the base of the skull away from the back of the neck and look straight down at the floor, keeping the throat and eyes soft.
plank pose

Full Plank Pose

  • You can perform this pose by itself and stay anywhere from 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Contraindications Or Cautions

Really the only contraindications would be if you have carpal tunnel syndrome since your wrists and forearms are bearing a large portion of the weight. 

Are You Up To The Plank Challenge?

My challenge to you is a 30 day plank challenge that I’ve done myself an will do, again, with you now.  And, it’s ok to go through the challenge using one of the modified versions.  Let’s do this!   Start at 20 seconds and increase  as follows:

Day 1 – hold for 20 seconds

Day 2 – hold for 20 seconds

Day 3 – hold for 30 seconds

Day 4 – hold for 30 seconds

Day 5 – hold for 40 seconds

Day 6 – Rest

Day 7 – hold for 45 seconds

Day 8 – hold for 45 seconds

Day 9 – hold for 60 seconds

Day 10 – hold for 60 seconds

Day 11 – hold for 60 seconds

Day 12 – hold for 90 seconds

Day 13 – Rest

Day 14 – hold for 90 seconds

Day 15 – hold for 90 seconds

Day 16 – hold for 120 seconds

Day 17 – hold for 120 seconds

Day 18 – hold for 150 seconds

Day 19 – Rest

Day 20 – hold for 150 seconds

Day 21 – hold for 150 seconds

Day 22 – hold for 180 seconds

Day 23 – hold for 180 seconds

Day 24 – hold for 210 seconds

Day 25 – hold for 210 seconds

Day 26 – Rest

Day 27 – hold for 240 seconds

Day 28 – hold for 240 seconds

Day 29 – hold for 270 seconds

Day 30 – Hold for as long as possible!!

Well done!

Please let me know if you have any questions on What Are Planks and keep us posted on your progress with the challenge!

Be Well!

Barb

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4 thoughts on “What Are Planks

  1. Hi Barb,

    I gained some weight over the last years since I lost my job. Mostly because I am not moving as much as I used to when I was active.
    In addition to that, I feel like I should need to tone myself and I am having troubles with my back.
    I am motivated to practice some more sports and change my habits towards a healthier lifestyle!
    The plank seems like a good exercise for someone like me to start with.
    It looks quite easy to do and it will definitely be good for my back 🙂
    I am going to follow your 30-day challenge! I am very motivated and I am looking forward to see the results and will keep you updated!

    Thanks for sharing!
    Angélique

  2. I didn’t know what plank was until I came to your website. Great content; the exercise is easy and very easy to follow. I think it is really helpful. My mom is 50 and if i tell her to do this she will not so how would I convince her? or maybe is there any alternative to this exercise? Thanks!

    • Hi Emmanuel! thanks for visiting today and I’m especially happy that you learned something new. 🙂 I suggest you tell your mom that you’ll do the plank challenge with her. Tell her it’s a quick exercise she can do that will offer more benefits than doing most 30 min. routines. It will offer support to her spine and help decrease the chance of getting osteoporosis. She can always start out by doing a modified plank by placing the feet further apart, or by resting on the elbows. Hope this helps! Thanks, again for stopping by and leaving a great comment!

      Barb

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