I love planks.
That’s a sentence I wouldn’t have said even a year ago, but there you have it.
The variations on planks are endless. There are full arm planks, side planks, planks on the forearms . You can “tuck” during a plank, march out the feet, do coupes to passes. There are side planks and stability ball planks, starfish planks and baby planks. “Planks for days” is a statement often heard during my classes.
Why are planks my favorite exercise? Besides the variations, they are so good for you. Here are just five reasons to planks.
Planks engage all major muscle groups in the core. A strong core will help improve performance in other areas, be it weightlifting, athletic training, dance, or even posture when sitting at your desk. The aesthetic results of planks – a more toned midriff- are merely a secondary benefit.
A few months ago, I was on the injured reserve list and had to hit pause on my HIIT workouts. In addition to barre, I did a lot (more) body weight work, including planks. Planks are generally low impact, making them a great choice when working through injuries (type of injury pending) or to alleviate pressure on joints.
Decreased Risk of Back Injury
Planks allow you to build strength while not putting a lot of pressure of the spine and hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly reduces back pain and helps create a strong support for your entire back, especially in the upper back.
Since planks help strengthen the back, chest, shoulders, neck, and abs, they also makes it easier to keep shoulders back and the lower back in a neutral position while sitting or standing, two important components of good posture. Pro tip? Try to engage the shoulders by pulling them down the back during planks.
While planks build strength, they also increase flexibility in your posterior muscle groups. The muscles around your shoulders, collarbone, and shoulder blades will expand and stretch, as will your hamstrings and even the arches of your feet and toes.
Planks are tough, but like any exercise, they get easier with practice and repetition. They are also easy to modify for your fitness level.
Do you plank?
What’s your favorite plank variation?