Planks for Beginners: The Bodyweight Exercise You Need to Master
July 26, 20194 min read
The humble plank - it looks so simple, so effortless - yet it’s so hard (and so effective at building your core).
Here’s everything you need to know about everybody’s most hated exercise (and seven reasons why you should plank during all of your workouts).
The Plank - 7 Reasons Why You Should Do It Daily
When you commit to the plank every day, not only does it get easier relatively quickly (as compared to only taking it on once a week), it also provides for all of these benefits:
Boosts muscle definition
Decreases the chance of back or spinal injury
Improves your posture
Burns calories and increases metabolism
Improves your balance
Increases your flexibility
Stretches out muscles associated with stress (helping with tension in the neck and shoulders)
The Plank and Your Muscles - the Low-Down
You already knew that the plank was a kick-ass exercise for your abs. What you probably didn’t know is that it also works a whole host of other muscles - get set for a better booty, tauter tummy and much more besides...
Transverse abdominis (muscles at the front and side of the ab wall) - working these will increase your ability to lift heavier weights.
Rectus adbominis (you know these as your abs) - crunching your abs daily during the plank can improve your sports performance, especially jumping.
Oblique muscles (the largest muscle in your abdomen, these sit on the outer most side of the tummy running from under the chest muscles to the pelvis) - exercising these on a regular basis will improve your stability when side-bending and twisting at the waist.
Glutes (your butt) - planking is great for strengthening your glutes, which in turn support your back and make for a firmer butt.
The Plank - a ‘How-To’ (For Doing It Properly)
Get into the plank position ensuring that your forearms and toes are touching the floor
Keep your torso in-line and your body straight - from top to toe
Keep your head relaxed and focused on the floor
Hold for 10 seconds, make sure your core muscles are engaged and breeeeathe!
Over the coming weeks aim for new milestones - up to 30 seconds, 45 seconds, and 60 seconds.
Proworks Pro Tip: Don’t allow your hips or buttocks to rise up or fall down. Keep your position straight (you may need to ask another person to check your form if you’re unsure).
Switching up Your Plank...
Make It Harder
Getting those key muscles working a little bit harder is simple, if not easy. All you need to do is lift either an arm or a foot off the floor.
Make It Easier
There’s no shame in struggling with this move at first, and if you need a little helping hand getting it started, begin with a knee plank. This exercise involves straight arms and resting on your knees, rather than your toes.
New Planks to Try
The Reverse Plank
As you’ve probably guessed, this plank flips it around. Instead of facing the ground you’ll be looking up to the ceiling, while your arms and heels keep you elevated. The advantage of this exercise is that it puts to work muscles that are underutilised. Here’s what you’ll be working: Hip abductors and adductors, hip flexors, lumbar spine, and glutes.
The Resistance Plank
For this exercise you’re going to need two glute bands or resistance bands; one will be positioned around your wrists, the other around your ankles. You’ll perform a straight-arm plank, but with your left hand and right foot moved out by 6 inches. Repeat for 10 reps.
This move will put your core, shoulders and hamstrings to the test.
Balance Ball Planking
Balance is the key word here, as the exercise ball will really push you to maintain a stable position. Hold for up to a minute.
You can also switch this around, so that your legs are resting on the balance ball and your hands are holding the weight of your body on the ground.
Proworks Pro Tip: If one of your goals with planking is to give a serious boost to your balance, you should give the Jackknife Plank a whirl. This is the perfect beginner position for eventually moving onwards to a handstand.
Get Kitted Out
Are you ready to start working your core, toning that butt and putting your balance to the test? Proworks has everything you need to get started - from exercise balls and yoga mats to our brand new glute bands - get prepared to take your workout to the next level!