Plank Exercise And Its Variants For Beginners
What is a Plank Exercise?
Plank exercises for beginners are helpful to strengthen your core muscles. These abdominal muscles are very crucial to support our weight. The abdomen has different layers that altogether contracts and expands to support the weight.
Regular practice of plank exercise strengthens your core muscles –
- Transversus abdominis
- Rectus abdominis
- Internal oblique
- External oblique muscles
The main aim of plank exercise is to activate core muscles, through resistive forces. Keeping the body and spine stable when gravitational force pulling it and the hands and toes push away from the ground. This phenomenon activates core muscles creating a resisting pressure on them.
Plank Exercise Benefits
Plank exercise builds low compressive force on our abdominal muscles that further makes them strong.
A strong core muscle doesn’t only look good but has appreciable balance and power to support the body weight. Further, it improves your posture and reduces stress on joints due to improper postures or balance. Thus its regular practice can reduce joint pain.
Since a plank exercise works on several muscles altogether, it helps tighten and tone up the muscles. Further, these abdominal exercises also enhance metabolism. Regular practice of plank exercise or its variations helps us shed excess body fat.
Plank exercises variants
Experts believe that performing plank on an unstable surface is more challenging and activating than on a stable one. You can create such a surface using cushions instead of the mat.
However, a more reliable way is to practice its (plank) different variants that include:
1) Elbow Plank Exercise
Elbow planks form a resistive force on the abs that strengthens its muscles. They are considered hard on your core muscles. Thus, avoid the practice if you are injured or when your stomach does not feel right.
- Lie in a prone position on the mat. Rest your shoulders and weight on the elbow.
- Also, keep your elbow and feet shoulder-width apart.
- Then, Push the floor, raising your body off the ground such that it becomes parallel to the floor.
- Now, hold the position for as long as you can.
- After a while, release the bodyweight from the elbows and feet to the ground and relax.
2) Up-Down Plank
Up down plank is a moving plank. Thus, it serves as a cardio exercise that pumps your heart and works on your core strengthening. The only thing you have to do is performing the task efficiently.
- Lie in a standard plank position where your whole weight is on toes and wrists.
- Ensure your elbows are straight and keep your wrists shoulder-width apart while your toes can be a little close.
- Now, bring your left forearm to the floor, keeping the right elbow straight.
- Then bring your right forearm to the ground getting your body weight on both the elbows as in elbow plank.
- Next again, get your left elbow straight and put the half bodyweight on the left wrist while the right forearm is still on the floor.
- Again come back to the position where your weight is on both the wrists as in standard plank.
- Repeat the cycle three to five times (as a beginner), altering the former side up and down.
3) Bird Dog Plank
Bird dog plank works on the core, hips, and back muscles. It increases the range of motion that reduces the chances of injury in the muscles.
- Get on a standard plank position, keeping your weight on toes and wrists ( at shoulder-width apart).
- Now bend your knees such that your knees are below your hips. The legs should be making an angle of 90 degrees, and your weight shifts from toes to knees.
- Tighten your core muscles to support your spine and posture.
- Now being in the position, raise your right arm and left leg such that they come in the same plane as your upper body.
- Keep the right arm and opposing leg parallel to the ground and hold the position for a few seconds.
- Again come back to the initial posture, and repeat the tasks with the left arm and right leg.
- Repeat the exercise four-five times and increase if you become used to it.
4) Plank Jacks Exercise
Plank jacks are a combination of cardio and abdominal exercises. It works on both upper and lower body parts, strengthening them. Plus, it burns extra calories faster than other variants.
- Start with the standard plank position, bearing your weight on the palms with shoulder-width apart, and toes are close to each other.
- Tighten your core muscles to prevent any injury.
- Now, jump with both the feet and stretching out of each other.
- Again, jump back and land in a plank position with your feet close together.
- Repeat the plank exercise 4-5 times and increase the quantity as you become used to it.
The Right Way to Hold a Plank
However, avoid too much force to hold the position as it can harm the core muscles.
Keeping this strength training for too long can cause muscle or joint pain, especially when you are already suffering from back pain.
Because when your abdominal muscles tire, they put all your weight on your lower back. It increases your risk of muscle pain or back pain.
Therefore, to get maximum results out of a plank, use a variation.
Hold a plank for 10 seconds, then release your weight on the floor. And repeat the turns about two to three times.
This way, it is better for aged people and people with back pain.
Moreover, for younger or teens, it is okay to hold the position for 1 minute. Performing a plank position longer than 60 seconds implies it may no longer affecting you.
Also, according to several experts, it is good to add variations in the plank than usually increasing the plank position retention.
Additionally, be careful while performing planks if you are overweight or obese. It may increase the chances of joint pain.
Therefore, instead of retaining the weight on toes, practice the planks weighing on the knees. It may help you in the beginning phase to tone your muscles.
Avoiding mistakes in plank exercise
Do not bend your spine, neck, or pelvis, keeping them straight in a line.
Keep your abdominal muscles strong and contracted to hold the weight of the upper body. Maintain smooth breathing with your neck aligned with the spine.
The plank exercises are good cardio workouts for every person. However, consult a doctor before heading to any practice if you have recently undergone a health condition or injury.
Also, the practice is enough to tone your muscles. Holding the plank position for too long can have adverse effects on your core and lower back muscles.