What is a Plank?
Are you struggling to reduce belly fat? One of the effective exercises to burn fat around the waistline is Plank. A plank is a simple exercise that works by engaging the major muscle group in the core and strengthening them along with muscles in arms, thighs, and calves. Doing a plank and holding the position for a few seconds might appear easy, but holding it for minutes takes a lot of stamina and balance. There is nothing like a good or bad workout. A bad workout is the one that does not happen.
A Standard Plank is a workout where you bring your body parallel/ perpendicular to the ground, with your stomach facing the floor, elevating your torso with your hands or elbows, and head relaxed to look down. The body should be in a straight line throughout the Plank duration, and one should perform it for at least 60 seconds and in different sets.
It is a familiar pose in many sports and yoga exercises like sun salutation, hot yoga, cardio centric yoga because it gives strength to a wide area of muscles in the body. A plank is a form of bodyweight exercise done with your own body, without needing to purchase any special equipment and because of which it can be done anywhere.
Types of Planks
A Plank is an exercise that can be performed with variations, but one thing common in all forms of Plank is trying to pull your belly button inside and keep your body in a straight line-
- Front Plank- This is a standard plank, as mentioned above, that strengthens the upper and lower body.
- Side Plank- It can be done by lying down on your side, raise yourself with your right forearm, with your hips and knees off the ground and legs straight. The body should look like a diagonal line from head to feet. It gives stability to the spine.
- Reverse Plank- It can be done by pressing your palm against the ground and lifting your hips and torso towards the ceiling. It helps in improving your glutes and lower back.
- Arm or Leg lift Plank- It can be done by merely lifting an arm or leg while being in the front plank position. It puts even more pressure on the muscles and targets your upper back, chest, and core.
- Resistance Plank- In this form of Plank, you put a band around your ankles and wrists in a standard plank position and try to move your hands and legs in sideways, walking motion.
Benefits of Plank
Some exercises only strengthen our muscles, but Plank is a versatile workout which provides the following benefits-
- Strengthens Our Core- An assortment of Plank with Cardio centric exercise works best for our core. Plank targets and strengthens core muscles like- Tranversus abdominis (enables to lift heavier weight and develop abs); Rectus abdominis (allows jumping high); Oblique muscles (enables to side-bend and twist); Glutes (supports back and gives it the desired shape).
- Improves Posture- Plank helps keep our bones aligned and improves our body posture by strengthening our spine, which reduces the risk of any skeletal injuries that can be caused by improper weight distribution. Proper posture also reflects self-confidence in an individual. It also positions internal organs better, which reduces digestive issues. An adequate body posture makes us look lean and increase our height.
- Reduces back pain- It is because of the improved posture that helps to align the vertebrae, which reduces the strain in the spinal region. It also arranges the ligaments in the back properly, which prevents back pain. Plank helps build up abdominal muscles through which the body feels less of our weight that strains our bones and joints. It, therefore, takes the stress off our back and supports our posture.
- Improves Flexibility- Plank stretches the posterior group of muscles in our body and makes us flexible. It includes not only our glutes, but also muscles around shoulders, collarbone, hamstrings, feet arches, and toes which other exercise routines generally neglect. Plank being a core element of yoga, indicates how beneficial it is for improving our flexibility. Different variations will enhance the flexibility of various body parts like Side planks increase the hip area flexibility.
- Improves Balance- While dancing, running, biking, exercising, the body needs balance. Plank trains the core muscles to become more stable, helping to maintain balance during the physical activities that you do. Strengthening our core helps in better coordination between our bodies and muscles. It helps prevent injuries that might be caused by over-exertion of specific muscles while maintaining balance during vigorous exercise.
- Improves Focus and Concentration- People can hold a plank for much longer than they can as all it requires is holding the focus, but they give up too soon. Continuing to do Plank daily and motivating yourself to hold the Plank to achieve the target decided in mind can significantly improve your focus.
- Improves Metabolism– Plank strengthens our large muscle groups, burning more calories when performed daily compared to other exercises or even when you are at rest. Hence it becomes vital for those having desk jobs as it does not allow our muscles to store fat and, therefore, tones our stomach.
- Improves Mood- Exercise not only changes our body. It also changes our mind, attitude, and mood because it releases endorphins, which are the feel-good chemicals, boosts our mood, and treats anxiety if done daily—the secret of getting ahead to reap the benefits and is to get started.
The hardest thing is to start, and once you exercise regularly, it’s the hardest thing to stop. With such rewarding benefits of Plank, keep practicing and keep striving for progress because what might seem impossible today, will become your warm-up someday and then chase perfection. It will hurt and will take time. But the pain today will become your strength tomorrow. It requires dedication to push your body to its maximum limit, there will be a temptation, but when you achieve your goal, it will be worth it !!