The plank is a classic exercise that works your muscles from head to toe.
Although you may dread the thought of doing a plank, you will reap many benefits from this simple, no-materials move. That said, you might be wondering how this exercise can get you in shape, what muscles it targets, and how to know if you’re doing it right.
What muscles do planks work?
The plank is a complete exercise, which targets the muscles of the upper body, core and lower body.
Although you’re resting your body weight on your arms and toes, most of the work of the plank is done by your core. In particular, the rectus abdominis, the obliques and the transverse abdominis are solicited. The rectus abdominis is the top layer of your stomach muscles. When the body fat percentage is low, these muscles are usually visible and are called the “six packs”.
On the other hand, the transverse abdominis is the deep abdominal muscle layer known as the “corset” muscle. In addition, the internal and external obliques and spinal erectors (back muscles) are engaged during the plank. When the obliques on both sides of your body work in tandem, they also have a stabilizing effect, including keeping the ribs and hips aligned.
Upper body muscles, such as the trapezius, rhomboid major and minor, latissimus dorsi, pectorals (chest muscles), serratus anterior, deltoids, biceps, and triceps also work a lot during the plank. .
The core and lower body muscles are closely linked, which means that both help stabilize the body during the plank. In particular, you target your quadriceps (front of the thighs) and your glutes, which are connected to your abdominal and lower back muscles. Collectively, these muscles help stabilize and strengthen your hips.
As the board is positioned facing the ground, you are working against the pull of gravity to keep your body in alignment. In a plank, the hamstrings help extend the hips, maintaining a straight line between the trunk and the legs.
The advantages of the plank
A strong trunk
A strong core is important for daily activities. Whether it’s bending down to pick up groceries or swinging a golf club, your core plays a vital role.
The plank exercise is great for muscular endurance, which is the ability of your muscles to sustain an exercise for a period of time. This is an isometric type of exercise, meaning you keep your muscles contracted in one position for the duration of the exercise
Less risk of injury
Many core exercises can lead to injury. Sit-ups and crunches in particular can put tremendous strain on your neck and lower back, especially if done incorrectly. However, the plank has been shown to activate the core muscles with lower compression forces, which may reduce the risk of injury.
May reduce lower back pain
A strong core has been shown to reduce lower back pain and the risk of back injury.
Your abdominal muscles support your lumbar spine (lower back), contributing to structural stability and movement of the pelvis. Increasing the stability of the lumbar spine can help reduce and prevent lower back pain.
As the trunk is connected to both the upper and lower body, it plays a role in movement during athletic activity. In terms of athletic performance, a strong core is associated with increased power, maximal strength, running performance, upper body rotation, and decreased risk of injury. Although more research is needed, core stabilization exercises like the plank, along with a well-balanced exercise program, appear to be the most effective in improving athletic performance.
How to make a plank correctly?
Proper execution of the plank will allow you to get the most out of it. Although there are many versions of the plank, the two main types are the forearm plank and the straight arm plank.
The plank on the forearms
This version of the plank is the most popular and uses your forearms to hold your body in place. It is considered the easier version of the two, but it will still challenge you.
1 Start by lying on your stomach (prone position), with your elbows and forearms by your side. Make sure your elbows and shoulders are aligned.
2 Slowly lift your torso off the floor pressing down on your forearms and toes. Contract your core as you rise, maintain a neutral spine and neck (avoid hunching over or looking up), and keep your pelvis tucked in (move your pelvis forward to prevent your buttocks to lift).
3 Hold this position for as long as you can maintain proper form.
plank with outstretched arms
The straight arm plank is similar to the forearm plank, but is slightly more advanced and difficult.
1 Begin by getting into a push-up position, elbows and forearms at your sides, palms down.
2 Push your hands into the floor and lift your torso off the floor. Your body should feel like you’re in a push-up position. Make sure your hands and shoulders are aligned, your legs are straight, your feet are hip-width apart, and your core is engaged.
3 Hold this position for as long as you can maintain proper form.
A person’s ability to hold a plank varies with experience and core strength. Try to hold the position for at least 10 seconds or more.
Common Plank Exercise Mistakes
Although the plank is a great strength training exercise, there are some common mistakes that can compromise your results.
Here are the main things to avoid when doing a plank:
– Bend your back. This reduces the strain on your core and makes the exercise less effective. Instead, work your core and keep your back in a neutral position.
– Lower the hips. Lowering the hips forces the back to arch and places excessive pressure on the lower back rather than the abs. Make sure your hips are aligned with your shoulders, knees, and feet.
– Raise your buttocks. By lifting your butt, you shift your weight to your upper body rather than your abs. To avoid this, work your trunk and pull your pelvis forward.
– Hold your breath. Holding your breath makes exercise more difficult and can put excessive pressure on your body. Focus on calm, controlled breathing.
– Push the belly outwards. If you have trouble tucking in your navel or notice signs of diastasis recti, such as bulging abdominals, try a modified version of the plank. By pulling in your abs, you will better support your back.
To exercise your core, imagine pulling your belly button toward your spine. This activates the deep muscles of the trunk, such as the transverse abdominis, and keeps the spine in a neutral position.
* Presse Santé strives to transmit medical knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE can the information given replace medical advice.