Plank exercises are great as they require no equipment at all and can be done any time anywhere, it is an isometric exercise that builds your abdominal core which includes your oblique’s (also known as love handles), lower back muscles, your abs and also the muscles that stabilize your back.
Your Basic Plank Exercise
So how do you perform a basic plank? Firstly, lay on the floor face down. Raise yourself by resting the front part of your body on your elbows and then rise up onto your toes.
Your arms should be directly under your shoulders and your feet hip-width apart.
It may take a while for you to find a comfortable position so you can move your arms further out or in, up or down and the same with your feet.
Ensuring you keep your back flat, your body should be in a straight line from your head to the ends of your heels.
Contract your abs by tightly pulling your belly button up towards your spine and keeping a flat plank stance.
This will feel tough and you may start to shake. Hold this position for as long as you possibly can.
When you can no longer hold the stance, lower your body to the position you started in.
It will get easier with the more planks that you do and you will find you can hold the position for longer after a while because your core abs will become stronger.
This exercise is also great for your posture.
Plank Exercise Variations
The plank exercise mentioned above is your standard everyday plank, but there are a few different variations that you might also want to try.
A side plank is very popular with people that want to target their obliques.
This starts with you lying on your side with your whole body weight supported on one forearm.
Ensure your body stays in a straight line from your upper shoulder to your feet and rest the arm that you have free on your hip that is facing towards the ceiling.
Hold this position pushed up from the floor for 3 seconds keeping your core abs tight. Repeat this as many times as you can and make sure you work both sides to avoid injury.
You can also try a variation to the face-down plank by supporting your body on both of your feet and extending one of your arms out for 3 seconds (so you are only resting your upper body on one arm.)
You can also try this with your legs and raising one leg. Again ensure you work both arms and legs with these variations to avoid any injuries.
A lot of experts prefer and agree that the plank exercise is better for you than crunches if you want to strengthen your abdominal core.
You also have less risk of any damage to your spinal column.