To plank or to crunch? That is the question that has long plagued most fitness enthusiasts. Here at FlabFix we say, to do Plank Crunches, and that is the solution.
Why bicker over two great exercises when there is a chance you can do both of them simultaneously and benefit from what each has to offer?
Because that is exactly what the plank crunches do, they combine the goodness of both the plank and crunch and mold them into a single workout move.
A plank crunch is an intense core workout that involves crunching the core while down in the plank position. You will not need any equipment to do this exercise, so do not worry much in that direction.
While this exercise or combination mainly targets the upper body, what you get at the end of it all is akin to a full-body exercise.
This workout can also count as cardio as it gets your blood pumping and significantly raises your heart rate.
HOW TO DO PLANK CRUNCHES
- Spread a mat on the floor before you begin, though this is not entirely necessary
- Drop into a plank position, but this time make sure your forearms are in contact with the floor
- Slightly lift your hips, they should not be in contact with the floor at all as long as this exercise lastS. Your knees and toes on the other hand should touch the floor.
- Rotate your shoulders outward to engage your lats and pull your forearms toward your midsection to create tension.
- Place your legs hip-width apart and then lift your knees off the ground such that you are doing an actual plank
- Engage your core and glutes at this point.
- While in this position, squeeze your abs while bringing your knee to your chest. Hold this pose for a couple of seconds then lower your hips and return to the plank position.
PLANK CRUNCHES MUSCLES WORKED
This workout works the hip flexors. These muscles ate located near the top of your thighs and are very integral to the movement of your body.
They are key players in your flexibility too and are the reason why you can comfortably kick, bend or move your hips around. If you let the hip flexors grow too tight, sudden movement may make them stretch too far or tear altogether. It is therefore important to do exercises that work them from time to time.
The core is better known as the abs or the six-pack muscles. The core is important for stability and balance.
Other muscles worked by this exercise include the glutes, quads, pecs, lats, triceps and deltoids.
PLANK CRUNCHES BENEFITS
INTENSE CORE WORKOUT
Crunches are a really good core workout, but they mostly work just the front of your core. Throw in planks and now you have a whole party.
Plank crunches work all sides of your core – the front, the sides, the back and they engage the abs on a deeper level. The core is not just the front, it is your whole midsection including the abs and back.
The plank position activates the muscles in the posterior chain while the crunches engage muscles on the side.
When you do the plank alone, you activate a huge number of muscles at the same time from that stationary position. They include the quads, deltoids, glutes among others.
This in itself improves muscle strength and density and enables a more connected muscular system in your body because you are working more than one muscle at the same time.
Add a crunch to this as now you have introduced a moving component to an otherwise relatively static move. This forces the body to work for its stability, thus, engaging more muscles to provide this stability.
To keep your body stable while bringing your knee to your chest, the hip flexors, abs, and obliques come into play.
The crunches introduce a motion aspect to this exercise which increases your heart rate and makes for a great cardio workout.
PLANK CRUNCHES ALTERNATIVES AND VARIATIONS
SIDE PLANK CRUNCHES
This variation pays special attention to the obliques.
To do it:
- Get into a side plank position
- Lift your hips off the ground and support yourself on one forearm
- Bring the left knee to the left elbow and tighten your abs and obliques as you do so
- Do a few reps, then switch sides.
DECLINE PLANK CRUNCHES
This exercise involves the deltoids more because it adds more weight to the hands and involves the shoulders more. To do this exercise, place your feet on a raised platform or a bench. You move your legs easily when in this position.
PLANK CRUNCHES MISTAKES TO AVOID
ROUNDING YOUR BACK
This is a mistake that can really reduce the effectiveness and make the whole exercise lose its meaning. If you round your back, your core will not be fully engaged.
If your core is not engaged, the arms will get tired much faster and will not be able to hold your weight as you plank. To avoid this, widen your forearms on the floor so the weight is not centered on the upper body.
LOOKING STRAIGHT AHEAD
Looking straight ahead in this position will tire your neck, and you will feel the strain almost immediately.
For this exercise, the wider the feet, the better your stability. If you want more challenges, reduce the distance between your feet.
Expecting mothers should stay away from this exercise, the same goes for people with pre-existing back issues. Better still, discuss with your physician so they may help you settle on the right variation that caters to your individual physical needs.
For significant results in your workout journey, incorporate fitness best practices such as warm-ups, rest, and proper diet and remain consistent.
The results largely depend on your capacity to adequately recover from the exercises that you do. Try to rest for a day or two before intensive training of the same muscle groups to allow sufficient recovery.