How to plank properly, how long and how long?

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Whether you choose yoga, Pilates, or circuit training, chances are you’ll be doing planks as part of your program. It is an important part of many exercise programs. And for good reason: Brewing for 30 seconds or a minute can really improve your performance. Here’s everything you need to know about how to do a great plank and why it’s good for you.

The benefits of planks

Simply put, the plank is an isometric strength-training exercise that builds core endurance. Isometric means no movement. Note that we say power, not power. Planks, like any good core exercise, are not intended to strengthen the muscles, but to improve their endurance.

While muscle strength refers to the amount of force a muscle can exert or the weight it can lift, muscle endurance refers to the muscle’s ability to sustain a sustained movement for a long period of time. You need both to keep muscles in optimal shape. Strength allows you to use maximum force (lift a heavy box) and endurance allows you to continue using your muscles repeatedly before you tire them (like you would when running a marathon or doing twelve repetitions of practice).

When it comes to our muscles, improving endurance can help us with many daily activities. Our spine helps us maintain our posture, supports our spine, and keeps us upright when sitting, standing, and walking. (And yes, it will also help to give the trunk a stronger appearance).

Planks work a whole host of muscles. In fact, the plank primarily works the transverse muscles and the straight muscles of the abdominal wall. This is a group of muscles in the front part of your stomach. The rectus abdominis muscle is the highest and feels like a six pack, while the rectus abdominis muscle is the deepest. Planks also work the glutes, both at the maximum level and the middle.

Other muscle groups are worked depending on the type of plank you are doing. When you do the forearm plank (see below), you generate more tension in your core and the lats, the latissimus dorsi muscles, which are the large V-shaped muscles that connect your arms to your spine. . If your goal is to work your core only, the forearm plank is the way to go. When you do a plank with your arms extended (the top of the push-up position), you’re also working the triceps, shoulders, and chest.

How to Do the Right Plank: Correct Form and Variations

To do the forearm plank:

Start in an all-fours position with your hands and knees on the floor.

Place your elbows on the floor, directly below your shoulders, so your arms are at a 90 degree angle and looking straight down at the floor.

Extend one leg at a time behind you while maintaining a neutral spine (keeping the same natural posture at the top, middle, and bottom of the spine as if you were standing straight), and contract your gluteal muscles to maintain a straight line strong from the top of the head to the heels. Avoid arching your lower back, raising your hips, or bending your knees.

Contract your abdominal muscles, you should feel like you are tightening the entire area between your ribs and your pelvis. At the same time, contract your lower back muscles by pushing your elbows to the floor, as if you are trying to bring your elbows to your toes.

To do a straight arm plank:

Begin in an all-fours position on hands and knees. Keeping your palms flat on the floor and your gaze facing down, step your feet back to form a perfectly straight line from the top of your head to your heels. (Your gaze should be down so your neck is also straight.) Hands should be directly below your shoulders.

Maintain a neutral position of your spine while contracting your abdominal muscles, lats and glutes, as described above.

To do the modified knee plank:

Begin in an all-fours position on hands and knees. Bring your hands forward and keep your knees parallel to the floor, until your body forms a straight line from the top of your head to your knees. Keep your spine in neutral alignment. Work your core and side muscles to hold the position. Your gaze should be directed downward and slightly outward so that your neck is in line with your spine.

How long and how often to make planks?

Here’s a good goal: aim to hold a plank for one to two minutes. It’s not arbitrary, because that’s how often the exercises are, and you want your core to be at least strong enough to maintain a neutral spine for that amount of time, because that’s when your spine is put under the greatest strain. .

It is safe to do planks every day unless you have injuries, heart problems, or shoulder strain. Because planks work muscular endurance, not strength, there is no need to let the muscles rest and repair before doing them again. The plank is safe for most people, but if you’re new to the sport, it’s always wise to make sure you’re certified by a medical professional and ask a fitness professional about it. In particular, if you have high blood pressure, intermittent fasting can temporarily raise your blood pressure even more. Some spinal issues can also be aggravated if you hold the board in a very wide or extended position.

Tight hip flexors can also cause problems. Our legs can become weak and we can lose the neutral position of the spine due to the contraction of the hip flexors. If your hips are flexed, when you try to do a plank, you will not benefit from your core muscles and you will continue to strain the hip flexors, which need to be stretched and not strained.

Finally, any shoulder issues should be addressed before doing planks. It is necessary not to strain the shoulder joint by keeping the arms in the right position, which allows the stabilizing muscles to do their work.

You may already be experiencing one of these issues, or have another health condition or illness that may prevent you from exercising safely. Even if you don’t, it’s always a good idea to consult your doctor before starting a new exercise program.

* blokus strives to spread health knowledge in a language accessible to all. IN NO EVENT, THE INFORMATION GIVEN CANNOT REPLACE THE OPINION OF A HEALTH PROFESSIONAL.
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