The plank, or planking, or whatever the kids are calling it these days, is an isometric exercise (isometric means that you are in a static or stationary position) that develops the core, as well as your arms, back, glutes and shoulders.
It is a fantastic way to develop flat abs, but more importantly from a functional perspective, if gives us better posture, increases our stability both in normal day-to-day activities but also during other exercises, and it can also help alleviate some back issues.
It requires no equipment, which means you can do it in the comfort and secrecy of your bedroom or home, and you can bang out a couple planks any time, anywhere. After doing planks regularly you will find that your abs are firmer when you are walking around or sitting, which will save you from a laundry list of health and posture problems down the road.
Additionally, many strength and conditioning trainers will use the plank as a measuring stick for testing an athlete’s core strength.
Primary Muscles the Plank Targets:
Transverse abdominus (the major component of core strength lies here)
Rectus abdominis (ye old six pack)
Erector spinae (a series of muscles and tendons that run up-and-down your lumber, thoracic and cervical areas of your back)
Tips for Executing the Plank
: Suck in your belly button and contract your glutes. This will give you a strong center of power. It will also keep your body rigid and stop you from sagging and compromising your back.
: Place your hands or elbows directly below your shoulders. Imagine yourself screwing your hands into the floor.
: Keep a straight head-spine-line throughout – in other words, don’t drop your head as you begin to get fatigued. Imagine someone has tapped a plank to the back of your head and your butt and maintain that line.
: When you first start, aim for holding the position for :30 seconds or longer. Work your way up as you get stronger.