Bodyweight exercises are again becoming popular in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your body weight. They are the ideal choice for individuals who do not have access to equipment as they usually require none; when they do, common items found in the household are usually sufficient. Planks are one of the most effective bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Why? Because they require only a small time investment on your part, and offer all the glory – substantial results in a relatively short span of time.
Doing plank exercises every day is a great way to strengthen your core, and in doing so, support your spine. The abdominal muscles provide support for the entire back and spinal column, preventing injuries. However, for them to perform this function effectively, our core muscles have to be strong and trained on a regular basis.
Now, let’s see what happens when you start doing planks every day!
1. You improve core definition and performance
Planks are a perfect exercise for the abdominal muscles because they engage every major core muscle group, including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominus, the external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:
- Transverse abdominis: improved ability to lift weights;
- Rectus adbominis: superior sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the popular six pack look;
- Oblique muscles: enhanced stability and ease when side-bending and waist-twisting;
- Glutes: well supported back and a strong, shapely booty.
2. You decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column
Doing planks allows you to build muscles while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on the spine or hips. Doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain, but also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.
Check out this article series if you would like to find out more about exercises to straighten your back muscles and improve your posture.
3. You boost your overall metabolism
Planks are an excellent way of challenging the entire body as doing them every day will burn more calories than most other traditional abdominal exercises, like crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by planking on a daily basis will ensure that you burn more energy even if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in the office, or in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, even while you are asleep.
4. You significantly improve your posture
Doing planks will improve your capacity to stand with straight and stable posture. Strengthening your core you will be able to maintain proper posture at all times because muscles in the abdomen have a profound effect on the overall condition of your neck, shoulders, chest and back. Check this exercise to learn more.
5. You improve your overall balance
If you’ve ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds, you aren’t alone. The culprit are the abdominal muscles, which when aren’t strong enough, will fail to give you the balance you need. By doing side planks you’ll improve your balance, while planks with extensions will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.
6. You max your flexibility
Flexibility is another key benefit of doing planks regularly, as they affect all your posterior muscle groups – shoulders, shoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, the arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.
7. You can experience mental benefits, too
Plank exercises are also thought to affect our nerves by stretching out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Most of us are sitting a chair, at home or at work, all day long; the thigh muscles get tight, our legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in the shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also help with anxiety and symptoms of depression – but only if you make it part of your daily routine.
Before you check-out, here is a sample plank exercise you can do to achieve great results in only 5-10 minutes a day. This great infographic shows some of the best plank exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:
Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and ripped? Then jump in and make planks a part of your life.
Featured photo credit: krogers2013 via flickr.com