Lets start with telling you how to do the exercise, then you can keep reading to figure out why it is so necessary.
1. Grab an exercise mat to begin. You will want this because your forearms are going to be on the ground. It will give you cushion so that we can concentrate on working the abdominals and not about your forearms on a hard or rough surface.
2. Get down onto the ground. Place your forearms and the balls of your feet on the mat.
3. Lift yourself into position so that you are holding your body up. Keeping all your joints in line with each other – making your body flat.
4. Keep your shoulders over your elbows, breath and imagine you are holding your belly button to you spine. This will keep the abdominals activated and relieve stress from your shoulders and low back.
Start for 30 seconds. If you can do this easily increase your time.
Once you have reach more than 120 seconds it is time to make this exercise harder. The plank is very versatile and is one of the reasons it is a great exercise. You can add weight to you back to increase the difficulty, you can lift an arm – alternating sides – or the same with your feet. Hold each lift for 5-10 seconds before switching to the other side. You can also incorporate the Bosu for added secondary muscle. Put your feet or arms on the Bosu or even flip the bosu over so your arms or feet on the black side. Always start with a short hold and continue increasing as you can and get better and stronger.
* Since planks are an isometric exercise – one where you do not move – they are not recommended for people with high blood pressure. Consult a physician before trying this exercise.
As a general rule of thumb for exercises here is the repetition ranges you want to do based on your goals:
1-6 reps = Strength
6-15 reps = Muscle Size
15-25 = Muscle Toning
As we have now discussed you can see that Planks are a great abdominal exercise. They do not incorporate your low back, hip flexors, or neck – which are common helpers in abdominal exercises. This allows you to isolate and really get that six pack or flat, tight stomach you have always wanted. Now get to it!