Four Fresh Ways to Rock the Plank
So why are planks so good for you?
Planking may seem very boring and routine, but planks (if done correctly) are an awesome way to strengthen your core, abs and back.
First, let’s talk about how you plank: Start by getting into a push-up position, but bend your elbows and rest your weight on your forearms instead of your hands. Your body should form a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles. Brace your core by tightening your abs as if someone was about to punch you in the gut.
The plank has gained popularity in the fitness community over the past few years. Dr. Glenn Wright, an associate professor of exercise science at the University of Wisconsin, says, “A lot of strength trainers realized that the main function of the abs is to stop, not start, motion, and the plank came out of what the abs are asked to do—resist the spine from moving, such as when fighting off an opponent, and strengthening the lower back.”
Planks are very effective because they help you stabilize your core muscles, which support your posture and proper alignment of the spine. Planks are better for you than crunches because they work your abs, core, back and even your hamstrings. Crunches isolate your abs, neglecting the rest. Certain variations of planks can even improve your balance if performed correctly.
Here are some great plank variations for you to try along with some video links to help with your form:
Get into the normal plank position on your toes and forearms. Then, move each arm up, one at a time, into a push-up position with your palms on the ground. Reverse the movement back down to your forearms. That’s one rep. How many can you do? (Editor’s note: to increase difficulty, try performing a push-up when you get into the push-up position).
Again, begin in a plank position and then kick your feet out to a wider stance like a horizontal jumping jack. Then jump back into a normal plank. Try not to move your upper body; only move your legs and hips during the exercise. Do as many reps as you can in 30 seconds!
Starting in a normal plank, raise one arm and the opposite leg off the ground. Point them out straight, and keep them parallel to the ground. Lower to the starting position and repeat with the opposite arm/leg.
Stack your feet so the right foot is under the left and go up on your right forearm so the right side of your body is parallel to the floor. Keep your body in a straight line while on one arm and one leg for 30 seconds and then reverse to the left side. If this is too difficult, start with your bottom leg bent and rest your lower body on your knee instead of your foot. To increase the difficulty of the exercise, try lowering your hips down and then raising them.
Maintaining proper form is very important while planking. If you really want to improve your muscles, balance and core, then don’t be sloppy! Great form is creating a straight line with your body from your toes to your head. Be sure you aren’t arching your back or pushing your butt into the air. Look at our pictures for examples of proper form and try performing the exercises in front of a mirror until you’re confident in your form.
Let’s see Auburn have a plank revolution!
Be well, Auburn.
Photography: Henry G.