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What’s the deal with planks?

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Planking is one of the most straightforward, yet efficient core exercises out there. You can do it anywhere, anytime. Standard plank, side plank, high plank etc. You don’t need specific workout gear and all it takes is 5 minutes max. Wondering how something so simple can be so efficient? It’s hard to believe, but take our word for it, planking will develop your resistance to fatigue like almost no other exercise. Here’s how:

How to do the plank exercise

Which muscles are affected by the plank exercise?

Planking strengthens your whole body, especially the core, including muscles in your back, legs, hips, glutes, shoulders and chest. The longer you can hold the plank, the higher your resistance to fatigue gets. On top of that it might help improve your posture, reduces back pain and boosts your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

How to plank

Place the forearms on the ground with the elbows below the shoulders, and arms parallel to the body. If flat palms bother your wrists, clasp your hands together. Fix a point between your hands with your gaze. Your knees and hips are fully extended. Now for the most important part – your core. Your core has to be fully engaged. Imagine pulling in your belly button whilst breathing out. That also helps to tighten your glutes, which are very active in the plank position as well. Make sure your body forms a straight line from head to heels.

The perfect plank

Hand positions when planking

The proper plank form

Don’t mess up with these mistakes

Body not in a straight line

Either your butt is too high in the air or your hips sink to the ground. Both are signs of a weak core and by doing this, you are reducing the effectiveness of the exercise.

Wrong body posture

Wrong head posture

Keep your head in a neutral position to extend your spine and keep it straight. Fix a spot on the floor a few inches in front of you to make sure that you don’t crane your neck up or drop your head down to the chest.

Wrong head posture

Arched back

If your upper body drops down, your shoulders are inactive and without tension. This mistake can lead to lower back pain. Imagine holding one straight line from your shoulders to your feet and don’t forget to squeeze your glutes – this is always very important.

Body drop when doing planks

Bent knees

Through bent knees you give your butt a break and loose tension in your body. Straighten your legs and pull your kneecaps up your thighs to support your hips and maintain proper form.

But be careful when doing the plank position. Make always sure to maintain proper plank form to prevent injuries. If the exercise is new to you, just start with holding it for several seconds and slowly level up your time.

The plank challenge

Believe it or not, the longest plank held is 8 hours and 1 minute. It was performed by a chinese man in May 2016 in Beijing. Don’t expect to hold a plank for this long though. The time you can hold a plank depends on your core strength and fitness level. The average time for planking is 1 to 3 minutes, but there is no real limit.

Now it’s your turn: Set a timer, take on your own challenge and plank as long as you can. Remember, it’s a mental challenge as well as a physical one. So get your head in the game and get planking.

What’s your plank record? We want to know. Leave a comment below.