BY NORA TOBIN
Planks are one of those exercises that will never go out of style, and for good reason. When it comes to core workouts, no exercise beats the plank in terms of effectiveness and time (not even crunches).
This move challenges the entire body and burns more calories than a traditional crunch. It's also much easier on the back and can help prevent injuries.
Here are five reasons to add planks to your workout every day:
1. Get major core definition.
Planks engage the transverse abdominis, rectus abdominis, obliques and glutes. This is important because each muscle group serves a different purpose and gives you different definition.
The transverse abdominis increases abdominal pressure so you can lift more weight. It also helps to flatten out the stomach. The rectus abdominis improves performance in sports that require jumping and it gives you the six pack look. The obliques are responsible for side bending and waist twisting moves. Developing these muscles also give you that nice hourglass shape. The glutes support the back and give you a strong, shapely booty.
2. Reduce the risk of injury.
A strong core gives the body the ability to perform movements in all planes of motion. In order to perform sports or daily activities without pain, it's essential to have a strong core. Planks are a safe way to build muscle and protect the spine and hips during movement.
3. Workout anywhere.
Planks are a great go-to move while traveling or in a confined space. You don't need any equipment or much space, and if you're short on time, you can still get an amazing workout just doing planks. Drop down and do a set for a quick metabolism boost and calorie burner.
4. Improve posture.
A strong core translates to an upright body. You'll stand taller and be less likely to hunch over with a strong foundation. The muscles in the core support the spine, which is what contributes to great posture.
5. Improve balance.
A solid core increases stability in the entire body. It's essential for balance and coordination. If the core is weak, it'll be much more difficult to find equilibrium. There's a reason yogis have great balance — their core supports every movement they perform and keeps them in alignment.
Convinced? Here are four basic planks to get you that killer core in no time!
Come onto your forearms with legs extended straight back. Clasp hands and bring elbows directly under the shoulders. Come up onto the balls of your feet, forming a straight line from head to heels. Draw belly button in toward your spine. Engage quads and glutes the entire time. Hold for at least 30 seconds, up to one minute.
Come onto your right forearm with elbow under shoulder and feet stacked. Lift hips up as high as possible, forming a straight line from head to heels. Extend left arm directly over shoulder and press right hand into the mat. Keep core engaged the entire time. Hold for 30 seconds each side. For an extra challenge, lift your left leg up as well (photo).
Straight-Arm Plank With Shoulder TouchPlace hands under shoulders and come up onto the balls of your feet. Keep arms straight and gaze toward the floor. Squeeze shoulder blades together and draw your belly button up toward your spine. Keep quads and glutes engaged the entire time. Hold for at least 30 seconds, up to one minute.
Place hands under shoulders and come up onto the balls of your feet, keeping feet wider than hip-width. Keeping hips still, bring right hand up to touch left shoulder. Return to center and bring left hand up to touch right shoulder. Continue to alternate, keeping torso and legs as still as possible. Perform for at least 30 seconds, up to one minute.
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