What a difference a plank makes
I added a simple forearm plank to my post-run exercises and everyday life, and it has made a big difference in my fitness and…well…even my mood.
My endurance is up, as well as my overall fitness and body “togetherness.” My wife noticed a difference first. She says I sit and stand with a straighter back. I’ve felt a firmer difference in my mid-section. I like that I can do this anywhere without special gear or equipment. Sitting at a desk I can feel restless and lazy. Adding a plank before lunch or as a one-minute fitness break livens up my day.
Rancho La Puerta Fitness Instructor Alejandro Valencia explains a few of the benefits below. Alejandro teaches strength training at The Ranch in his Core Challange class. (You can learn more about our nationally certified fitness staff here.)
1. A forearm plank works your entire core. You engage your back, shoulders and glutes along with your abdominals. When executed correctly they cause less stress on your lower back than a typical sit up.
2. Planks also help flatten your stomach. Crunches can give you a “toned abs” look but planks build real strength throughout your core while still making your abs tighter and firmer.
3. A strong core means better balance and posture, and helps with endurance sports and daily activities. As your core strengthens, your stomach and back muscles can offer more support for your spine. It’s easier to keep your shoulders back and relaxed, with your chest up and open.
4. Planks put you in a better mood. You feel…virtuous, engaged, ready for anything. It’s hard to quantify, but they seem to reduce tension and stress, helping you feel more optimistic and confident. Who doesn’t want a firmer mid-section!
5. Planks don’t take up much time. You don’t have to compete with Dr. Mao Weidong who recently planked for eight hours and one minute. Start with 30 seconds and add time as your strength increases with a two-minute plank a healthy goal. Once you start dropping your hips it’s time to stop and take a break.