Your core. It's everyone's problem area and quite honestly, the hardest part of your body to get and stay in perfect shape. There are plenty of ab workouts that you can do to work on one section at a time such as crunches, sit-ups, twists, and more. But the most effective workout that you can do to keep your abs in check and engage your whole core at once is a plank. Planks offer you a world of difference compared to the average sit up and you are looking towards many benefits by dedicating some time each day on plank exercises.
Planks are a whole body workout engaging all major core muscles including the traverse abdominous, the rectus abdominous, the external obliques, and the glutes. The reason that all of these muscles are engaged during a plank is due to your entire body working to stay steady and keep your body in a balanced, straight line for optimal workout. You will start to notice definition in your abs and a slimmer waistline.
Although you may feel temporary pain from soreness during or after a plank workout, you will soon be taking off a great amount of pain in your back and hips in the long run. Planks develop strong abs and glutes, which in return give you a better posture. Good posture is built from a strong core and can eliminate a great amount of back and hip pain developed from slouching. Anyone that suffers from back pain should know the true joy it is to eliminate any sort of back pain.
Boost in Your Metabolism
Making planks a part of your daily routine will certainly boost your metabolism, even over the usual movement in other abdominal exercises like sit-ups and crunches. The muscles that you work during planks will keep you burning more energy, even when sedentary, including during sleep.
Unlike sit-ups where you are crunching your body together and bending your knees, planks are done in your entire body length to extend your abs and legs, stretching your muscles while engaging them. All of your leg muscles are being stretched while holding up the rest of your body and targeting your hamstrings, calves, and even feet. You can even create a greater stretch in the back and arms by stretching out one arm over your head. Plus, it causes you to engage your abs even more.
While regular planks will have you test your balance throughout your whole body to essentially stay afloat, if you switch it up and do side planks or one-legged or one-armed planks, you will engage your core much more and test your balance. By trying to balance on your side while holding your body up, you will have to find your new center in your body by engaging different muscles throughout your body. If you're feeling extra ambitious, try a plank on a stability ball.
Below are some different variations of plank positions to get you started. In each position, be sure to keep a straight line throughout your spine. The longer you stay in the plank, the more likely you will want to curve your spine, dipping it towards the ground and lowering your hips. Fight that urge and try to stay in a steady, straight line throughout your entire spine.
Standard (High Plank):
Image via: Self
Image via: Women's Health Mag
Image via: The PT Doctor
Opposite Arm & Leg:
Image via: On Sugar
Image via: ccio
Image via: Coach Calorie