The plank exercise has been around for a long time, yet I still don’t see enough people doing it. Instead, the gym is crowded with people doing endless crunches. Performing crunches can cause terrible damage to your spine. As you flex and extend your spine you place great stress on the spinal column.
Not only are crunches unsafe, but they are ineffective.
I’m going to reveal a little secret here. A strong core is not built by performing endless crunches. Your secret weapon to getting a powerful and stable core is the plank exercise.
The plank is the most effective isometric exercise that helps you build endurance and strength in your core.
Here’s how to perform a proper plank. Lie face-down on a mat and raise yourself up onto your toes and elbows. Keep your back flat and keep your body in a straight line. Make sure to contract your abdominal region to ensure your body doesn’t drop. Your goal is to hold this position for as long as you can.
Here’s a little trick to help you out. Try to pull your belly button towards your spine. This will help you engage the deep abdominal muscles and will help support your back.
If you haven’t performed a plank before, you’ll notice the lack of strength and stabilization in your core as your body starts to shake. You won’t be able to hold the position for long but as you keep practicing you’ll notice drastic improvement. As your core strength improves, you will be able to hold the position for longer periods.
If you’re really struggling at the start, do a modified plank instead where instead of balancing on your toes, you balance on your knees. Progressively work your way up to a regular plank.
Once you have mastered the plank exercise, there are a few variations you can incorporate into your workout.
Try the side plank, arm and leg lift planks, and planks on bosu balls and swiss balls. There are endless variations that will help you build a strong core.
The plank exercise is your secret weapon. Go and use it!