There are so many benefits of planks, some might even surprise you.
To put it simply, the plank is one of the best exercises you can do for core conditioning. Not only does it strengthen your core, but it’s also a bodyweight exercise, so there is no extra gear required.
Find out how planks can help you with these 6 benefits and tips to get you started:
- Tone Your Stomach
- Improve Your Balance, Posture, and Endurance
- Reduce Back Pain
- Make You More Flexible
- Improve Your Metabolism
- Improve Your Mood
How to Do a Plank: Because You Actually Have to Do Them To Reap The Benefits
Planks are fairly similar to being stuck in a push-up position, but without moving your body up and down.
To do a standard plank (high plank), simply get into a push-up position with your hands and toes on the floor, your elbows under your shoulders, and your wrists in line with your elbows. Make sure your body is in a straight line. Try to hold it for at least 30 seconds. You should feel your muscles working and your core tightening.
Pull your bellybutton in and make sure your back doesn’t arch or dip. This is a core and body exercise that works a number of muscles in your body, so make sure you’re using them and doing it correctly. Your body should essentially look like a straight line.
Now, take an in-depth look at these awesome benefits of planks.
Benefit #1 Toned Stomach
Got abs? The best benefit of planks and the reason why people choose this exercise is because it strengthens your core and tones your stomach. Need I say more? It’s also one of the best exercises where you can actually get substantial results in a short time span (an added bonus).
Benefit #2 Improved Balance, Posture, and Endurance
Good posture displays confidence, and who doesn’t want that? You can improve both your balance and posture by doing planks.
Planks allow you to build up strength and endurance of the different muscle groups being used to keep you in shape, and due to a stronger core, you’re able to maintain balance and coordination in physically exhausting activities for longer periods of time.
Planks also help you improve balance and enhance your ability to support your own weight, thus also improving your posture and giving you confidence!
Benefit #3 Reduce Back Pain
Planks not only strengthen a handful of muscle groups, but they also strengthen the skeletal system. An improved posture combined with the core strength you develop from planking supports your back and also helps align your vertebrae, which takes stress of your spine. Overall, this allows your body to better compose itself, which also leaves you less at risk for developing injuries or further developing health concerns.
Benefit #4 Flexibility
Planks aren’t all about strength, in fact, they can actually make you more flexible, and they’re very popular in yoga. When you do a plank correctly, the muscles around your shoulders, collarbone, hamstrings, and even the arches of your feet and toes will expand and stretch. These are often areas that receive little attention during other activities or exercise and become more flexible as they’re being used more.
Flexibility is very important in exercise because it enables your muscles and joints to move effectively. It also can prevent injury, and improve your performance.
Benefit #5 Improved Metabolism
Because planks help strengthen your core and other muscle groups, that means you burn more calories when you’re stronger (even if you aren’t doing anything!). Strong and healthy muscles mean your body is constantly burning energy so it becomes less able to store calories from fat, which improves your metabolism.
By doing planks every day, you can actually burn more calories than you would doing sit ups or other core exercises.
Benefit #6 Improved Mood
Like any exercise, doing planks can improve your mood. Exercise releases endorphins, which is the chemical that makes you feel good and energized. In fact, doctors often recommend that people with anxiety and depression exercise before prescribing them certain medications because the effects can be immediate.
Planks can also benefit and improve your mood because they stretch and relax muscle groups that are otherwise often stiff and tense from prolonged sitting. By relieving these tension areas, your mood should improve tremendously, whether it make you less tense, less stressed, more calm, more relaxed or more energized.
There are different variations of planks other than the standard high plank mentioned above, and each of them provide different benefits for different parts of the body. The most common variations of planks are:
Low planks are great for your arms and core.
To do a low plank, get into a push-up position, but instead of putting your hands on the floor, rest on your forearms, but make sure they are in line with your shoulders (stay in a straight line). Hold for 30+ seconds.
Side planks are good for training and working your obliques and stabilizing your spine.
First, lay down on your right side and make sure your legs are straight. Next, raise yourself up on your right forearm (make sure your body stays straight), and raise your hips and knees off the ground. Hold.
Do the same for the other side.
Reverse planks are great for working your glutes and lower body like your hamstrings and lower back. Hold.
First, sit on the ground with your legs out in front of you. Next, put your hands on the floor below your shoulders, flex your glutes and thighs, then push your body upwards (again, make sure your body is in a straight line).
Pro Tip: If you’re comfortable with the recommended 30 seconds for beginners, try doing a plank for 1-2+ minutes and see how long you can hold it. The more you do them the better you’ll be!
Make sure to add planks to your next workout! You won’t regret it when you start reaping all these awesome benefits!