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ColumnsLifestyles of the Fit and Healthy

Planking: Hold it, hold it

The abs, back, and core love the plank. You? Maybe not so much, but there are a number of reasons this position is beneficial to the body. Every workout session at my studio ends with a plank. This isometric exercise supports improved posture, improves balance, and even works your glutes and hamstrings. The plank is an all in one deal too good to pass up.

Plank form begins with the pushup position with the forearms resting on the floor. Elbows are at 90 degrees and the elbows are directly under the shoulders. A straight line is formed from head to toe. Eyes should be looking straight forward.

Planking is great for core development. The core consists of the muscles in the midsection and increase movement effectiveness in all your limbs. The inner core muscles including the transverse abdominus and recuts abdominus (the six-pack part) are challenged during this stabilization. Posture is improved which means better back health. The abdomen is taught to help hold the body upright, which takes some of the responsibility off the back. Proper vertebrae and ligament alignment of the spine deters degenerative back issues and lack of mobility. Neck and shoulder pain can be diminished when slouching is replaced by sitting and standing upright.

Your core is the center of gravity in the body. Planking promotes teamwork in the body because all of your core is activated in unison to maintain the hold.

There are different variations. The plank can be performed on the knees, with one arm or leg raised, with different arm and leg taps or motions, and even with a twist from side to side. Intensity can be increased with timing. Work on holding the plank longer and longer. Some of the gentlemen at my studio can hold the plank for 4 minutes now. We started at 90 seconds, and over a few months worked to 2, 3 and now 4 minutes strong. Proud moment is that my dad is part of this group.

This “simple” bodyweight exercise can be done anywhere. There are very few other core exercises that can do what planking does for the body. And let’s face it, they really don’t take that much time to do. Now that I have made you feel guilty about not doing planks, assume the position and see how long you can do one starting with a target of 30 seconds. Hold it. Hold it.

The Lifestyle of the FIT & Healthy incorporates planking into their exercise routine with the understanding that core power means more power all over the body.