Easy steps on how to do the plank for the perfect abs


What is plank?

Plank is one of the best exercises for strengthening your core. It is not only essential for your core but also for your entire body. The exercise involves holding your body in an isometric position which helps you in maintaining a tension constantly being static in one position. The plank exercise helps in several ways like strengthening your abs, shoulders, back and glutes.

Doing Plank can also help you in strengthening your arms and legs. For performing any exercises, the stability and the strength from your midsection of the body are highly required.  Be it shoulder presses or squats, a strong and stable core is highly necessary. Plank plays a pivotal role in improving the posture of an individual.
 

What are the variations in Plank?

The plank exercise can be done with several variations. The plank  variations are as follows:

Standard Planks

  • Place your hands under the shoulders like it’s usually done before doing a push-up.
  • Plant your toes on the ground(or the floor) and squeeze your glutes. This helps in stabilizing your body. Make sure you do not hyperextend your knees.
  • Your neck and spine should be neutralized by looking at a point on the floor which is about a foot beyond your hands. Your head should be aligned in the same line as your body.
  • You have to be in that position and hold it for 20 seconds. Hold your plank position as long as possible as you start getting comfortable with the position of the plank. Hold your position without disrupting your normal pattern of breath.

Forearm Plank

It is one of the easiest forms of practising plank. It is easier than holding your body up completely on your hands.

Your forearms should be placed on the floor supported by your elbows. Your elbows should be aligned below your shoulders and your arms should be placed parallel to your body. If you have flat palms bothering your wrists, it is always suggested to clasp your hands together.

Knee Plank

It is one of the best ways to start plans. Knee planks are always suggested for beginners. You can rest on your knees since it puts lesser stress on your lower back. If your knees hurt while resting it on the ground, you can use a rolled-up mat or a towel and put it under your knees.

Side Plank

The side muscles of your core get strengthened by the practising side plank.

  • You have to lie down on your back first. 
  • Stack one leg on top of the other
  • Support your body on your elbow or hands and lift your body up.

You can also try raising opposite arms or legs. The Side plank can be made easier if you cross the upper leg in front of your body. This provides additional support.

Side-leg Plank

This variation of the plank exercise is practised by removing one point of contact from the ground. The side-leg plank focuses more on the core and its strengthening.

  • Position your body the same as to be done in the case of Standard Plank.
  • Lift one leg up comfortably. Try lifting it gradually towards the ceiling.
  • Do not compromise on the feeling of your back especially your lower back.
  • Keep your hip parallel to the floor and then alternate your legs.

Medicine- ball Plank

Take a medicine ball and plant your hands on it. It is more convenient than putting your hand on the ground. Trying to stabilize your body on an unstable ball helps in the strengthening of your core. You can position your body the same way as is done in the case of the Standard Plank. In the case of the Medicine- Bal Plank, place you should place your hands or forearms on the medicine ball just directly below your shoulder.

What are the benefits of the plank exercise?

Practising the plank exercise every day has a lot of benefits to it. Some of the most common benefits of Plank are as follows:
 
Strengthening of the core muscles in the body
 
Plank helps in shedding fat from various parts of the body especially from the waistline. It improves the functional performances for other activities and helps in the strengthening of the major muscles in the body which comes under the core muscle groups like transverse, straight and oblique abdominal muscles as well as the glutes i.e. the buttocks.
 
Reduced risk of spinal cord injuries and other back problems
 
Planks do not affect your spine or strain your back in any way. It has been observed that performing planks regularly can provide more support to your back and spinal cord. Practising planks strengthen the muscles around the lower back of a person besides other muscles too. Hence the practice of planks can provide more support to the back of the spinal cord of a person.
 
Boosts the metabolism of an individual
 
Performing planks every day can increase your metabolic rate. It is more recommended for the people who have a sedentary lifestyle since doing planks can highly enhance your metabolism both in the day as well as the night.

Improvement in posture
 
Practising plank exercise every day can even work on your posture of the body. It always helps in achieving a better posture of the body.
 
The coordination is improved
 
Plank provides better coordination of the body which can help you standing on one leg or even achieving a better balance during walking or standing or running. Planks help in strengthening the core muscles and gain more stability thus enhancing better coordination.
 
Increased flexibility
 
Performing Plank every day helps in improving your flexibility as well. The posterior muscles of your leg and back are stretched and expanded while practising plank and hence results in a much better flexible body.
 
Your mood will be improved
 
Plank helps in uplifting your mood by relaxing your muscles which got stiffened as a result of long-time sitting. 
 

What are the common mistakes in planking?

The most common mistakes that should be avoided while performing Plank?

  • Stop dipping your butt which makes you compromise the health of your lower back. Rather always try to pull in your belly button towards your spinal cord. This will help in keeping your torso lean and thin. Besides keeping your torso thin, it also maintains a healthy spinal cord.
  • Do not compromise on your breathing. It is a normal human nature to forget breathing when in a strenuous position. But stopping your breath might lead to headaches and dizziness.
  • Try to keep your hips up.
  • Never forget to keep your head and neck in the correct position beside your butts and hips. You should keep your eyes on the floor one foot ahead of your hands. This will help in putting your head and neck in a neutral position and prevents any kind of further pain.

What are the Plank Exercises that you can do at home every day?

The Plank Exercises which you can try doing every day at home involves no instruments at all. Some of the most common Plank exercises are as follows:

  • Forearm Plank
  • Side Plank
  • Straight arm Plank
  • Dolphin Plank
  • Side Plank Crunch
  • Plank Knee Trap
  • Caterpillar Plank
  • Twisting Knee Plank
  • Resistance Band Plank
  • One-legged plank
  • Plank with Elbow Lift
  • Plank with opposite Limb Extension
  • Plank with same side link extension
  • Push Up Side Plank
  • Side Plank with Inner Thigh Raise
  • Side Plank with a twist
  • Plank with Side Snatch
  • Plank Jacks
  • On the ball Planks
  • Stir the Pot Plank

How is each of these Plank exercises performed?

Forearm Plank

Extend your legs and lie down with your face downwards.

  • Your elbows should be bent directly under your shoulders
  • Place your palms flat on the floor
  • Maintain a distance of hip-width between your both the feet
  • Your elbows should be placed shoulder-width apart
  • Prop your body up supporting on your toes 
  • Your body should be aligned in a straight line from the shoulder to the toes 
  • Hold this position for 30 to 60 seconds

Side Plank

This variation of the Plank is highly beneficial for burning the fats of the obliques or the side muscles of your midsection. Like any other plank, the Side Plank also focuses on your core muscles.

– Stack up your feet, hips and knees on your right side as you start lying down on your right-hand side.

– Your right hand should be placed on the floor

– Lift up your hips up supporting on your right palm

– Then, lift your left arm up towards the ceiling to form a T shape with your arms

-The posture of the body should  be diagonal from your shoulders to the heels

-Hold this position of the Side Plank for 30 to 60 seconds

– Then you can switch sides and follow the same for your left side too.
 

Straight Arm Plank

– In the case of the Straight Arm Plank, you have to start with all the four limbs together. You have to place your wrists directly under your shoulder and your toes should be pressed on the floor.

– As you are going to engage your abs, you have to step a foot back and straighten your legs.

– Press your hands on the floor and move away from the floor i.e. lift your body up supporting on your arms.

– Your body posture should be aligned in a straight line from the head to the heels

– Hold the position for 30 to 60 seconds 
 

Dolphin Plank

– This Plank is the best for the work out of the abs

– The position of the body should be like the Forearm Plank

– Press your belly button towards your spinal cord and lift your hips up towards the ceiling

– This helps in engaging your abs more while doing the Dolphin Plank

– After taking the position, bring your head towards your elbow pressing through your forearms

– As you push your hip up towards the ceiling, your body should take a V-shape at the top.

– You have to hold this position for 30 – 60 seconds

– Repeat the whole procedure for 8 to 10 times

Side Plank Crunch

It is a blend of two kinds of planks

– You have to first take the position which is same as that of the straight arm side plank on your right side.

– Your right feet, hip, knees should be stacked. Even your right shoulder should be stacked over the right wrist

– Your left hand should be placed  behind your head

– Crunch up as you  bend towards your left side and move your left knees towards the left elbow

– Return back slowly to the position of the side plank. Do not move your left hand from behind your head.

– Stay static in the position for 30 seconds and repeat the whole procedure for 8 – 10 time.


Plank Knee Trap

The muscles which wrap around the upper part of your body or the torso are called transverse abdominus. The Plank Knee Trap is a very helpful variation of Plank and it helps in the regulation of both rectus abdominus(six-packs) as well as the transverse abdominus.
 
– First, you have to take the position of the Forearm Plank in which your feet have to  be at a hip-width distance from each other and your elbows have to be in a shoulder-width distance

– The body should  be aligned in a straight line from the shoulders to the heels

– Your pelvis should be slightly tilted forward and keep your hips steady

– Bend your both the knees towards the floor

– Hold the position for a few seconds before straightening your legs again

– You can hold the position for 30 – 60 seconds for even better results 
Repeat the whole process 10-12 times


Caterpillar Plank

– You have to stand straight with your feet together

– Bend forward from your  waist and place your hands o the floor that your palms touch the floor

– Your shoulders should  be directly on your wrists

– Your body should have a straight alignment from the shoulders till the heels

– Your knees should  be drawn towards your chest 

– Make sure your  hips are in line with your shoulders

– Now repeat the whole process on your left side

– After the whole procedure, you have to move your hand towards your feet and roll up for standing.

– You have to repeat the whole procedure from the beginning again for 8 – 10 times

– Each time you have to hold your position for 30 – 60 seconds
 

Twisting Knee Plank

– Take the position of a straight arm plank in which you have to place your shoulders directly over your wrists

– Your body should be aligned in a straight line from head to the heels

– Keep your shoulders steady and twist your lower body towards the left-hand side. Bring your right hip towards the floor while doing this

-Return to the same  centre position

– Twist your lower body towards your right-hand side which will bring your left hip towards the left-hand side

– Again return to the  centre position 

– After this, pull your left knee inwards towards the right elbow

– Take a pause and take the position of the plank 

-Bring your right knee towards your left elbow

– Take a pause again and get back to the position of the plank

– Keep continuing with your hip twists by alternating the sides and the diagonal knee pulls should be continued too

– Hold each position for 30-60 seconds 

– Repeat the whole procedure for 10-12 times
 

Resistance Band Plank

– This  variation of the plank works mostly on the upper half of the body as well as it helps in strengthening your core muscles

– Wrap a mini looped band also  called the resistance band around your forearms just above your wrists

– Position your  body in the straight alignment from your head to the heels

– Try to stretch out your left hand  towards your left-hand side as far as you can

– Bring it back to the shoulder-width distance from the other hand
Then try to hold out and stretch your right hand towards the right-hand side as far as you  can

– Take a pause and then bring it back to the shoulder width length

– Try holding the position after stretching the hands for 30-60 seconds 
Repeat the whole procedure by alternating sides and repeat it for 8-10 times



One-Legged Plank

This variation of the plank exercise helps in building and strengthening your core muscles as well as works on the coordination or the balance of the body.
 
– Take the position the same as that of straight-arm Plank in which shoulders are directly over the wrists and your  feet should be placed in a hip-width distance 
– Align your body from head to the heels in a straight line 
– You have lift or raise your right leg up
– Hold the position for 30-60 seconds
– Bring your leg  back in the same position
– Then do the same with your left leg i.e. lift your left leg up and hold the position for 30-60 seconds
Repeat the same procedure from the top for 8-10 times per side

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