Why planking is good for you
The plank is a great exercise for toning our bodies, particularly those that help us to maintain great posture. This is the reason is can be so challenging!
Before considering the correct technique, lets consider the three key benefits which performing the plank can achieve.
A strong core
Strengthening our deep core muscles, including our transverse abdominis (wraps around our lower stomach to support our spine), pelvic floor, rectus abdominis (six pack), internal and external obliques (waistline) and erector spinae and multifidus (running along our spine).
This will not only support great posture, it helps to achieve a toned stomach!
Reduced back pain
By strengthening our core stabilising muscles, we ensure our other supporting muscles aren't overworked, reducing our risk of injury and sprain.
When we exercise, our bodies release endorphins, helping to make us feel happier and less stressed.
How to perform the plank
So now we know why planking is so good for us, lets consider how to perform it safely.
The plank is an intermediate-advanced exercise so there is always the option to perform the exercise in a box or 3/4 plank position.
Start with your knees under your hips, your elbows under your shoulders and wrists in line with your elbows.
Have your eye gaze directly in front of you, as though you have an egg between your chin and neck.
Take a breath in through your nose and as you exhale, pull your belly button towards your spine and engage your pelvic floor (imagine holding in going to the toilet). Maintain this breath pattern and core engagement throughout the exercise.
On your next exhale, slide the knees away from you and push the heels away from your body.
Keep your bottom in line with your shoulders to avoid lifting too high (as the abdominals relax) or too low (putting pressure on the lower back).
Hold this position for approximately 20 seconds, resting in child's pose when completed (bottom on the heels and arms extended).
Repeat 5 times, or until you have completed a minute.
Our aim would be to hold the plank position for a minute, without rest, but correct technique is more important than time, so only do what feels right for your body.