Have you noticed that some version of the plank is used in practically every type of workout, from yoga to CrossFit? Well, there’s a good reason for it. The core exercise engages all your muscles – from your shoulders to glutes – to work together to support your body and give you a rock-hard foundation.
Doing core work will help to make you a better runner, yogi and more, while improving your posture and balance. It also helps to protect you against lower back pain and of course, my personal favourite part about planking is its ability to tone your abs.
Ready to improve your plank game? Take note of the following pointers in order to boost the benefits of this core exercise.
Make sure you’re doing it right
We’ve talked about how a good plank benefits your body, but you should also know that a bad plank might lead to real injury, from a pulled muscle to a sprained back. Holding a proper form for seconds still beats a crappy one for five minutes – check out the video above to see if you’ve been planking correctly!
Do it with a friend
Studies have shown that a little healthy competition might be all you need to power through a plank for a longer time. One particular research divided participants into two groups, and asked both to plank for as long as they could, rest, and continue to hold the position.
One group proceeded without interruption, while the other group was told during their rest that 80 percent of people with similar strength held their second plank for 20 more seconds that the first.
In the end, the research showed that the group that knew about their peers’ performance increased the second plank’s hold time by 5 percent, while the uninterrupted group dropped their second plank’s hold time by 18 percent.
If you’re trying to increase your plank time, it might be worthwhile working out with a friend to power through those last few seconds with more motivation!
Try some plank variations
If you’re able to hold your plank for a full minute, you’re ready to try new variations. Increase the intensity of your core workout by removing one base of support – such as raising one arm or leg out in the air – before holding your pose. Or, try side planks – which may be tough at first if you’re not used to using the muscles along the side of your body, but definitely worth the intensity!