- Your Core Strength Will Improve
One of the top benefits of doing planks regularly is that they strengthen the core – those muscles, bones, and joints that link the upper and lower body. Because we engage the core constantly during everyday life – when we lift, turn, reach and bend – it’s probably the most important area of the body to work on.
Successfully holding the plank position requires that you squeeze and engage all the main core muscle groups – the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominus, the external oblique muscle, and the glutes. When core strength improves, everyday tasks become easier, we feel stronger and our athletic ability improves.
2. You’ll Tone Up That Tummy
Forget counting crunches every day – they aren’t all that efficient when it comes to getting a flat and toned stomach anyway.
Instead, planks are the way to go! A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning found that the plank provides 100% activation of your six-pack muscles whereas crunches only engage 64%.
Regular plank practice means your abdominal muscles will become stronger, and will tighten up. Plus, you’ll be toning other areas of your body too.
3. You’ll Strengthen Your Back
While some exercises to work the core can actually weaken and potentially injure the back (such as sit-ups or crunches), the plank will actually help to strengthen it. In particular, the upper back muscles become stronger.
What’s more, the plank is carried out whilst maintaining a neutral spine, eliminating the constant strain caused by flexing and extending of the spinal column.
4. You May Enjoy Increased Metabolism and Fat Burn
While doing a quick plank or two won’t burn as much fat as cardiovascular exercises, it’s a more efficient way of burning fat. When you engage in strength training, your metabolic rate increases even after you’ve stopped exercising…something that doesn’t happen with cardiovascular activity.
5. You’ll Increase Flexibility and Lower Your Risk of Injury
Staying supple and limber throughout your lifespan is vital in order to prevent injury – which is why functional exercises that increase flexibility should be part of any well-rounded workout plan.
Performing certain simple exercises daily, including the plank, can offset some of the natural loss of elasticity of the muscles, tendons and ligaments that comes with age. It can be an especially useful tool for those who sit at a desk all day.
Planks work to increase or maintain flexibility by expanding and stretching the muscles around the shoulders, collarbone, shoulder blades, hamstrings and even the arches of the feet and toes.
To really limber up, consider adding in some side planks to your workout regimen. These stretch out the oblique muscles, particularly if you extend your arm up over your head in line with your body.