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10 Surprising Health Benefits of Doing Planks

10 Surprising Health Benefits of Doing Planks

A plank is a core strength-training exercise where you maintain the position of a push-up for a maximum amount of time.

There are different ways to do a plank.

High plank: Get to the top of a push-up position. Plant your toes and hands on the ground with your back straight and your core tight. Keep your head upright too.

Low plank: This is similar to a high plank but instead of balancing on your hands, you use your forearms.

There are many exercises you can use to work your abs or lose belly fat but planks just might be your best option.

A 2016 study found that a 30-day plank workout and a 30-day ab challenge which had sit-ups, crunches, and leg lifts resulted in equal waist reduction. However, planks burned more calories and were more efficient.

HEALTH BENEFITS OF DOING PLANKS

10 Surprising Health Benefits of Doing Planks

1. PLANKS ARE A FULL BODY WORKOUT

Planks activate the muscles in your arms, legs, and abs. They are a more efficient core exercise because they engage more muscles than sit-ups and crunches.

Additionally, sit-up and crunches make you push against the floor which can lead to spinal injury later on.

2. IMPROVED POSTURE

Planks make it easier to keep your back straight and your shoulders back. This is because planks strengthen your back, chest, shoulders, neck, and back.

A 2019 study published in the Indian Journal of Public Health Research & Development found that doing planks on an unstable surface improves bad posture and fixes rounded shoulders.

30 participants in their 20s did planks three times a week for four weeks. They were then divided into two groups; one did planks on the ground while the other did planks on an unstable surface.

The researchers observed that the participants who did planks on an unstable surface had a better alignment of their head and spine and less rounded shoulders by the end of the four weeks.

3. INCREASED FLEXIBILITY

One of the benefits of doing planks is increased flexibility. Planks can stretch out your lower body.

In the plank position, you lengthen your hamstrings and arches of your feet. This makes the plank a stretching exercise as well.

4. IMPROVED ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE

If you are planking every day, you will strengthen your core muscles from your abs, your glutes, and your back muscles.

One of the muscles targeted is the transverse abdominis. When strengthened, you will have an increased ability to lift heavier weights.

Another group of muscles targeted is the rectus abdominis- the six-pack. These muscles help improve sports performance in activities that involve jumping and sprinting.

Oblique muscles are also strengthened by planks. These muscles enable you to twist your waist better and bending sideways.

5. REDUCED RISK OF INJURY

According to LifeHack, doing planks regularly enhances support for your back.

The exercise enables you to strengthen your core without putting too much pressure on your spine.

6. HELP TREAT LOW BACK PAIN

Planks require minimal movement when strengthening your core. Another one of the benefits of doing planks is reducing low back pain.

Planks strengthen the muscles that help you hold a neutral spine. This reduces the stress to your back even when seated.

Studies show that core stabilization exercises like planks are more effective at reducing back pain compared to regular physical therapy in chronic nonspecific low back pain.

Doing planks also reduces the chances of developing low back pain due to weakened core muscles. When core muscles are weak, your other muscles overcompensate which can lead to muscle strain or lingering pain.

Research from the CDC shows that creating a strong core helps prevent back injuries and increases stability.

7. BOOST YOUR METABOLISM

Another one of the benefits of doing planks is burning more calories. Because planks engage more muscles than other core strengthening exercises, you burn more energy even when you stop working out.

If you do planks daily for about 60s, you will enhance your body’s metabolic rate and keeping it high even after you go to bed or work.

8. IMPROVED BALANCE

Planks require no equipment. They are also easy to modify. Because of this, one of the benefits of doing planks is improving your balance.

A study found that doing the side plank helped reduce spine curvature in scoliosis patients.

Lifting your free arm in the air while doing a side plank also helps with your balance.

To do a side plank:

-Lie on your left side and prop yourself on your left forearm. Ensure your elbow is in line with your shoulder.

-Raise your hips so that your body forms a straight line from your armpit to your foot.

-Hold the position for 30-60 seconds.

You can also do shoulder touches during the high plank.

To do this exercise:

-Take the classic high plank pose.

-Take your right hand off the floor and lightly touch your left elbow. Repeat this for ten times then switch sides.

9. BOOST YOUR MENTAL HEALTH

Another one of the benefits of doing planks is an improved mood. Planks stretch out the muscles that contribute to stress and tension in the body especially if you have a job or participate in an activity where you stand or sit for long hours.

These positions put too much pressure on your hips, shoulders, legs, and pelvis. Planks ease this tension helping the mind relax.

10. EASY TO MODIFY

Planking can be modified to suit your fitness or rehabilitation needs. Increasing the length of the time you hold the plank maximizes the benefits.

To make sure your quads and hamstrings get double the workout, you can do the knee touch planks.

To do this:

-Hold the classic low plank pose.

-Alternate touching your knees to the floor.

-Keep your back straight and make sure you tap the floor lightly.

You can also try the walking plank to work on your deltoids as well. To do this exercise:

-Sit on the floor with your arms behind you and legs extended in front of you, then lift your hips

-Place your hands on the floor or a foam roller.

-Keep your shoulders down and hips not too low or too high.

How long should I be able to hold a plank?

While the world record for the longest plank is eight hours, research shows that the best maximum time to hold a plank is two minutes. Usually, hold the position for 30-60 seconds.

To increase athletic performance, repeated ten-second holds are the most optimal option.

If you’re new to planks, the best plank for beginners is the classic low plank. You can also bend your knees until you’re strong enough.

Ensure you practice every day for 10 seconds about three to four times a day. Try adding squats, push-ups, and other bodyweight strength exercises to strengthen your core.

WHY IS PLANKING SO HARD?

Planking is difficult because it requires arm strength, back strength, ab strength, and balance.

How many calories does planking burn?

Planking burns about two to five calories a minute based on your body weight. Your metabolic rate and your muscle-to-fat ratio also determine how many calories are burnt.

The more reps you do, the more calories you’ll burn. If you have a high muscle-to-fat ratio you’ll burn more calories even when you’re done working out. Some plank exercises are also more calorie-burning than others since they engage more muscle groups.

TAKEAWAY

Planks are a brilliant exercise to add to your usual workout routine or warm-up or cool down routine.

Do not do the plank if you are at risk of prolapse, after prolapse surgery or poor pelvic floor muscles.

Consult your doctor if you have just given birth or have recently had pelvic surgery.

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