Plank is a short and sweet exercise you can add to any workout to make it more effective and fun. There are endless variations, meaning you’ll never run out of ideas or get bored with your daily dose of planking. Front plank, side plank, one leg plank and plank push-up are just a few to try. For more, check out this photo album and some of the videos here for examples and tips. What’s so great about the plank position? Here are five of the benefits holding a plank at least once a day can have for your body and mind.
Strengthening. A plank will help strengthen your core, shoulders, chest and lower body muscles. It elongates the spine and neck, engages abdominal and oblique muscles, requires shoulder, elbow and wrist stability and works lower body muscles.
Improving posture. Practicing the plank position not only elongates muscles from head to toe, it helps improve posture by strengthening core muscles that support your hips, lower back and spine. Having better posture means better running form, better balance and a longer, leaner body shape.
Wrist integrity. Many athletes are at risk of injuring their wrists by falling, twisting or jamming during practice or a competition. Practicing the plank position strengthens the wrist joint by increasing flexibility and stability. Being able to easily bend the wrist to the 90 degree angle required in a plank will help prevent a variety of wrist injuries.
Mental. Planking can provide stress relief and develop mental toughness. Planks stretch muscles that can get tight from sitting in an office chair all day. Taking your mind off of stressful things while you plank and concentrating on your breathing while muscles relax and loosen will improve blood flow and relieve stress. Practicing a maximum hold plank can increase mental toughness by giving you a benchmark from which to push yourself to stay in the position longer.
While plank is a wonderful exercise for most, there are a few people who should avoid the strenuous position. Individuals suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome should only practice plank with medical clearance under the supervision of a highly qualified instructor. Those with degenerative lower back issues should also avoid planking.