Planks are useful endurance exercises which can be done ridiculously easy, yet they can help tone and strengthen the core muscles of the abdomen, back and hips. Planks originate from yoga, and even the most physically fit can benefit from them.

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The Benefits of Doing Planks

Planking is one of the most beneficial exercises for the health of the entire body. Planking offers several benefits for staying healthy and getting fit.

Tone the belly

Since planking involves all of the core muscles, they can tighten and tone the belly far better than crunches.

Crunches are good for a small part of the core, and the focus on the upper abdominal muscles. On the contrary, planks engage the upper and the lower abs and the obliques.

Reduce and heal back pain

By tightening the abs and strengthening the core muscles, planks relax your back muscles and at the same time whip them into shape.

What is interesting is that planks alleviate back tension when your body is at rest.

Improve flexibility, balance and posture

After you have improved the tone of the core muscles, the benefits could be felt all over the body. Planking can make the body more flexible, improve the balance and improve the spinal posture, no matter if you are standing or sitting.

They can easily be adapted to different fitness levels

People with different level of fitness can do planks. Beginners might start with basic level and gradually progress to a higher level. Some forms of planks can be challenging even to the most physically fit people.

How to do Planks Correctly

Draw the belly button and try to keep the body as straight as you can, not locking the knees. Breathe without holding your breath. Maintain that position for as long as possible. Repeat this for 2 or 3 times. Slowly but surely, lengthen the time of being in that position.

  • Lie down on the ground in a flat position with your face down
  • Place your shoulders directly over the elbows, the wrists should be aligned with the elbows in a straight line
  • Tighten the gluteal and the abdominal muscles and maintain that position for as long as possible.
  • Take  one minute rest before repeating it

Common mistakes

  1. Dropping the hips, shoulders or head during the plank can damage the spinal alignment and can cause injury.
  2. Putting the hands too close together can stress and strain the shoulders and it can be more hurtful than helpful.
  3. It is important that you breathe normally because you need oxygen for the exercise to have effect.
  4. Don’t hold the plank for a long time.

Planks’ Variations

- Side plank

Lie on your side placing the forearm on the floor, press the body upward. There should be straight, diagonal line. Hold this position for as long as you would for a basic plank.

side-plank

- Reverse plank

Sit on the floor and extend the legs straight out in front of you. Then put your hands on the floor aligning them with your shoulders. Raise the body up so that your heels are on the floor creating a diagonal line with the body.

reverse-plank

- High plank

The high plank resembles a push-up. In place of pressing up on the forearms which is the case with the basic plank, you align the hands with the shoulders and press on the hands, using your toes in order to balance.

high-plank

The plank challenge which lasts for 30 days

Days 1 and 2: hold the plank for 20 seconds
Days 3and 4: hold the plank for 30 seconds
Day 5: 40 seconds
Day 6: rest day

Days 7 and 8: 45 seconds
Days 9 and 11: 60 seconds
Day 12: 90 seconds
Day 13: Rest day

Days 14 and 15: 90 seconds
Days 16 and 17: 120 seconds
Day 18: 150 seconds
Day 19: Rest day

Days 20 and 21: 150 seconds
Days 22and 23: 180 seconds
Days 24 and 25: 210 seconds
Day 26: Rest day

Days 27 and 28: 240 seconds
Day 29: 270 seconds
Day 30: 300 seconds

If these exercises are done correctly, they can be beneficial. However, if your body shows signs that it is not prepared, take a rest, because you can tore a muscle or damage your spine.

Be cautious when taking on a fitness challenge. Try with a slower pace then gradually work your way up to higher levels.

Take a look at this video which demonstrates planks variations:

Source: www.healthyandnaturalworld.com

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