Of course, there’s no way you haven’t heard it several times by now: core strength is essential! And naturally, this is correct. It’s very important to keep your core strong and healthy. At Farmingdale Physical Therapy West, among the many questions our patients ask us is how to strengthen their cores with maximum efficiency. We understand the critical role your core plays in general health and fitness. Therefore, we’re passionate about helping to keep our patients’ cores in optimal shape.
There are numerous exercises that engage and strengthen our cores. However, few are as effective as the plank. And a reliable physical therapist (or weight loss coach) knows that while the plank is relatively simple, it challenges the muscles that support the torso and back. In this post, we’ll discuss the plank exercise, its benefits and how to master it with maximum results.
What Is The Plank?
Like we said: the plank is, hands-down, one of the best exercises you can do to fortify your core. The required activity for a plank is very simple: basically, you maintain a position (that looks as if you’re about to do a push-up) for as long as possible. There are a few variations of this position, but overall, the action (and results) are essentially the same.
And since it engages the muscles that support our torsos and backs, the plank can also improve our posture and make physical activity much less strenuous. Any athletic activity (like sports, exercise, etc.) following a regular plank routine will place much less stress on your spine.
One of the best aspects of planking? You don’t need any additional equipment, weights, accessories, or anything else to do it besides your very own body. Also, you don’t need to hit the gym to plank or rely on a partner to spot you. You can do them wherever, whenever, as long as you stretch in advance.
In total, the plank engages more than twenty muscles. It mainly tests our abs, back and shoulders, plus our chest and legs. Exercises like the plank, that engage multiple muscles, are more effective for “maximizing strength, improving endurance, enhancing stability, reducing injury and maintaining mobility” than “isolation” exercises like crunches, as per research conducted by Pennsylvania State University.
Eventually, planking will help you lose weight and give you a flat belly. Also, it efficiently engages all the muscles in your core, such as the rectus abdominus, transverse abdominus, and the internal and external obliques.
Mastering the Plank
Remember: before any workout, it’s important to stretch! Begin planking by getting into a push-up position. Straighten your back, and tense your abs as well as your glutes. Maintain this position without allowing your hips to sink and remember: breathe! (And of course, drink plenty of water throughout to avoid dehydration).
Optimizing form is key to maximum muscle recruitment. You should support your weight on your elbows, with your body in a straight line. If you can’t plank in front of a mirror, ask a partner to help you refine your form in order to ensure you’re doing it correctly. Plank every day, slowly adding time to your routine, until you can accomplish two-minute sets. Much like resistance training, planking consistently tests your endurance, and regular planking will ultimately strengthen it.
Once you’ve mastered the plank, you can begin looking into alternate plank forms. You can lower your position, perform lateral planks, 1-footed planks or opposite hand/foot planking. Each variation will contribute to strengthening your core in diverse ways.
Conclusion – Farmingdale Physical Therapy West
Ultimately, at Farmingdale Physical Therapy West, we cannot encourage our patients to try new and effective exercises enough. Core strength is essential to general fitness and physical health. Therefore, we highly recommend applying planks to your regular workout routine. Planking will maximize your strength, flexibility, endurance, stability and reduce the risk of future acute and chronic injuries. So naturally, we highly recommend refining and perfecting this exercise!