The exercise benefits of the plank position

IMG_2964Like many of you, I have seen the short-lived Internet fad of “planking,” which involves the act of laying face down, with your hands on your sides, to imitate a wooden plank. While “planking” in that manner is meant to be fun, when it comes to health and exercise routines, the plank position can be a beneficial workout.

The plank is an isometric workout that focuses on strengthening your core. While the core is the focus, secondary muscles such as the glutes, quads, and hamstrings are also getting a workout. Now, the form does not involve laying face-down with your arms on your side; instead it is the upright position of a push-up, with your hands touching the floor with your arms extended outward. There should be a straight line formed from your head to your feet.

There are many modifications of this exercise such as the modified plank, side plank, reverse plank, and leg lift planks.

The modified plank is very similar to the regular plank position except your arms are bent 90 degrees, your elbows are now touching the ground and should line up directly with your shoulders.

The side plank involves shifting your weight to one arm and lifting the other one in the air, and holding that position. According to acefitness.com, the side plank strengthens abdominal and back muscles, particularly the transversus abdominis, rectus abdominis, obliques and quadratus lumborum. It also targets the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus in the hips, as well as the adductor muscles located in the inner thigh.

IMG_2975A reverse plank is the same as a traditional plank, but you are now facing the ceiling with your arms behind you facing upward. Again, there should be a straight line from your toes to your head. This one really focuses on strengthening your glutes and hamstrings, while also working the lower back and your core.

The leg lift plank starts in the modified plank position with everything holding true, except you life one of your legs off of the ground five to six inches and hold that position. By lifting one leg at a time you are able to strengthen the muscles in the hips, lower back, glutes and oblique muscles.

For more information and other workouts involving the plank position, visit Sparkpeople.com.

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