Give it a Go - Plank

Planks are a great exercise for working & challenging your core muscles (deep trunk muscles at the front, side and back and including the hips), which are essential for supporting the spine, ensuring good posture, and almost every movement on a daily basis. By strengthening your core muscles you will improve the effectiveness of any exercise you do and/or sport you play, your ability to function better on a day-to-day basis and help to prevent injury especially to the lower back.

Whilst your core muscles are doing most of the work during the plank, your arms, chest, shoulders and legs are also getting a workout from holding the position and keeping you stable. Being able to do planks correctly is an exercise many people struggle with.

Planks provide a great core workout (and yes will challenge your abdominal muscles) and are more effective than sit-ups and crunches because these exercises generally only work the superficial abdominal muscles.

Planks don't require any equipment, you don't need much room and they can be performed anywhere and varied in so many ways.

Poor plank technique is common, don't rush the exercise at the expense of form - you won't get the full benefit of the exercise. The following are a few tips on how to perform planks safely and correctly

  • Begin by lying on the floor on your front, so your forearms are flat on the floor, your shoulders are directly over your elbows and your legs are straight out behind you.
  • With control, raise your body off the floor so that your body weight is resting on your forearms and your toes. Keep looking at the floor, ensuring your feet are hip-width apart. Palms facing each other.
  • Ensure your core is engaged  throughout the exercise (e.g. tighten your abs) and that here is a straight line from your head to your ankles. 
  • Hold the position for as long as you can, breathe naturally and freely. If your lower back starts to hurt, stop the exercise immediately.
  • Avoid letting your hips/torso/back fall forward, sag in the middle or arch in the air.

As a starter, aim to hold this position for 30 seconds and see if you can do this 2-3 times. If you can't don't worry. Build up to it. You are best doing a correct plank for 20 seconds with safe and proper technique rather than an incorrect plank for 30 seconds. Please see my bank of 'Give it a Go - Plank Exercises'.

In future blogs, I will suggest ways that you can make the plank more challenging or if needed a little easier. For instance, you can incorporate a press up, raise a leg, turn it into a side plank etc.

Please remember to warm up thoroughly before exercising and to speak to your GP before starting any exercise programme. Should you require any help, advice or information please do not hesitate to contact me. I would be delighted to discuss with you the tried and tested methods and lifestyle changes that I have developed to help people achieve their health and fitness goals.

Keep up the great work,

Live life actively,

Matt

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