I make no apologies for the title of today’s post – the temptation was just far too much to resist. Cleverly executed puns put to the side, the plank is an increasingly popular exercise that can be a great friend to all of us if we are hoping to firm up that midsection before summer!
For now it seems like the warm weather might be here to stay and all that means is that the temptation to show a little bit more flesh will be growing and growing. But with winter tums still around and an chocolate hangover from Easter, some of us might not feel quite ready to bare all just yet.
Planking is a relatively unique exercise. To start off with, for most of us it might be the only isometric exercise in our regime – isometric meaning an exercise that involves staying in a static position, where the muscles being used don’t change length throughout.
It is also one of the most variable exercises too. When we think about planking most of us think of the front plank where the weight is being held on our forearms. There are plenty of other planks too that can target different muscles and alter the difficulty of the exercise. It is this variability that makes it an exercise used by all kinds of people, ranging from yoga and pilates enthusiasts, to elite sports mean and women. In fact, boxers in particular use planking to help strengthen their gut so that it can withstand significant pressure come their next fight.
So if it wasn’t clear already, the muscles that you are targeting with the front plank are your abs, back and shoulders. Training abs is where a lot of people slip up in meeting targets. If you want to get big arms it seems obvious to go and lift using your arms, right? It isn’t quite that simple with our midsection though. So an exercise like the plank offers a great starting point with abdominal training.
We all love a bargain and I can guarantee that planking will be the cheapest exercise that you ever do. You don’t need any equipment whatsoever and it can be done almost anywhere. In other words, it is completely free! Some people choose to add equipment to vary their planks, like by adding medicine balls to help improve balance at the same time but that is completely up to you.
You might remember a post I wrote before about abs. And the underlying message there can be perfectly applied to this post to. I was talking about crunches then but the same can be said of the plank. Plank everyday for the rest of your life, it doesn’t mean you are going to get the abs you want. Abs become visible when your body fat percentage gets down low enough. So you need to be eating the right things so that you can hit the magic number – generally around 13-14%.
Oh, and if you think you have what it takes to be a serious planker then to take the world record you will have to hold the position for around four and a half hours, which was set by a policeman in China!