If you have ever checked any abs workout routine, one or two types of plank exercises are always included. It is a great way to strengthen the abdomen, lower back and even the shoulders. Moreover, with some variations we can train the oblique, legs, hips, gluteus and arms, as well. Overall, it is a rather complex bodyweight exercise to strengthen the core muscles which are responsible for stability and proper posture.
The plank (also called a front hold, hover, or abdominal bridge) is an isometric core strength exercise that involves maintaining a difficult position for extended periods of time. – Wikipedia
The other advantage of plank abdominal exercises is that we do need to go to the gym, and no equipment is needed only for some variations. In addition, abs exercise is the safest among the core exercises as the possibility to have an injury is rather low. (But never forget to warm up!)
I have been doing this workout since I restarted training seriously. At first I did to like it very much, but as I see the results I do abdominal bridge more and more times. Since my core strength is getting better, I started to use weights, but I do not suggest it until you do not make your lower back really strong.
Below you can find a lot of plank exercise variations which are suggested by experts both for men and women.
You need to start this exercise as if you do push ups. Your hands should be under your shoulders, and they should be stretched. You torso must be stretched as well, and your back should be flat. Your feet should be fit together.
An alternative variation, for those who are not so fit yet, is to place the forearm on the ground instead of the push up position. You should hold you body on your toes and forearms as long as possible (30-60 seconds), and have a little rest between them. It is essential to keep your back flat and your spine in a natural position.
Plank with knee touch is another simple alternative. The position is the same, but we touch the floor with your knees.
For both plank variations, in order to be effective, you should not let your butts and hips down.
Here is a great video to see these variations.
With this workout, we can strengthen the oblique and hips efficiently. There are some variations.
The easiest is to place your forearm on the floor and turn onto your side. Your legs must be fit together, and you need to lift your hips up and keep your back straight. You need to hold this position for 30 – 45 seconds, depending on how fit you are.
You can make this exercise harder by lifting your leg and/or arm. This way it will be harder to keep the position. You will need to use your shoulders and triceps, but this helps to strengthen wide range of muscles. We call this abdominal exercise star side plank.
Another alternative is to move from one side to another and try to do 10-20 changes.
Using Exercise Ball
A fitness ball is a great equipment to maximize the benefits of doing plank workouts as it is harder to keep the positions. But because of that, many other muscles are trained which are responsible for strength and stability and of course the exercise will be harder in most of the cases.
You can do normal ones by placing your toes on the ball instead of the floor. You can also use it for doing side planks, but be careful as it is rather hard to keep the position.
We do plank on a revise way. You can do it with stretched arm or by using your forearms. In order to perform it properly, you should not let your hips, butts down, and your body must be straight. You need to hold this position for at least 30 seconds and do 3-5 repetitions with little rest.
Need More? Watch 50 Variations!
In this video the you can learn all the plank variations you can imagine.
Plank Routines and Challenges
If you want to have flat abs, you should include different plank variations in fitness plan besides crunches, sit-ups, leg raises etc. It is vital to do different sorts workouts to train your abdominals and not just planks. In addition, you can only burn belly fat and lose weight if you have a proper healthy diet and do cardio training.
Does the plank exercise help to lose belly fat?
Planks are good to strengthen and core the ab muscles and not for burning fat. If you want to gt rid of that fat, you should do cardio and control your calorie intake.
Why do I have back pain while I do planks?
There can be two reasons. The first is your lower back not strong enough, so you have to strengthen it. The other is you do the exercise improperly. Keep you body in a straight line. Do not lower or push high your butt. You can find lower back exercises here.
How long should I hold the plank to see results?
It depends on you fitness level, but generally the longer, the better. If you are beginner hold it at least for 30 minutes and increase the length as you get familiar with this workout. Doing it for 1 minute is pretty good.