Why Planks are Awesome
Planks are a simple but highly effective exercise that improve strength and stability throughout your entire body. Because plank exercises target multiple muscle groups, they are a great way to strengthen your arms and shoulders, glutes, legs, and neck.
Planks are best known as one of the most effective exercises you can do to strengthen your core. Our core is involved in nearly any activity we do, from sitting at a desk, to walking, to strenuous exercise. A strong core can improve spine alignment, posture, coordination, and help alleviate back pain.
The Basic Plank
A basic plank involves getting into a push-up position and holding that position at the high point. Your body should be in a straight line with core, glute, thigh, and arm muscles activated.
- Hands and elbows should be directly under your shoulders
- Keep your chin lowered, looking at the floor
- With your back straight, pull in your belly button
- Breathe steadily while holding the plank
- When your form suffers, release the plank. Rest and repeat.
Take Your Planks to the Next Level
Here are some variations on the basic plank that will take this fantastic exercise to the next level!
Feet on a SMART Stability Ball
Get into a basic plank position, placing the tops of your feet flat, or with your toes tucked under, on a SMART stability ball. With arms extended, hands directly under your shoulders, hold your body straight. Look down or slightly in front of you to maintain a good neck position. Hold position until your form breaks, rest, repeat.
Forearms on a SMART Stability Ball
Rest your forearms on a SMART stability ball while propping yourself up on your toes. In this position, your body will be at a diagonal. Maintain a straight body with your head looking at your hands. For a variation on this plank, alternate lifting and holding each leg. Hold position until your form breaks, rest, repeat.
Plank with Front Row using SMART Strength Bands
Secure a SMART strength band to an anchor point, like a table leg. Facing the anchor point, and keeping tension on the band, hold the band in your right hand as you get into a plank position. Keeping your body straight and your left hand under your shoulder, pull the band, directing your elbow toward your ribs. Do 10 reps on your right side and 10 reps on your left. Repeat three sets.
Plank with Leg Bends using a SMART Strength Band
Place a SMART strength band so it circles the tops and bottoms of both feet. Get into a basic plank position, with your hands under your shoulders, back straight, and feet about hip-width apart. Keeping your hips as level as possible, bend your right leg and bring your right knee as close as possible to your right elbow. Pause and then return your leg to a straight position. Repeat with the left leg. Do ten leg bends on each side, rest, repeat.