The plank is a static exercise aimed at strengthening and toning the muscles of the bark (torso), that is, the back and abdomen (lower back and abs). In addition to the bark, the plank works well the muscles of the hips and buttocks.
How to do the bar properly
1. Position yourself like you would do a push-up, but put your hands on your elbows under your shoulder joints and start the stopwatch.
2. Straighten your body in a string, making sure your back (lower back) does not sag or, conversely, round it.
3. Make sure your abs are tense, this will keep your body straight.
4. The abdomen should be taut, but not so tight as to negatively affect breathing.
5. Stay in this position for as long as possible and do three or four approaches.
Why is this necessary
One exercise strengthens all of the most important muscles that are critical to a runner. This exercise is a must in your training plan because the muscles it strengthens have a direct impact on proper running posture and technique.
In contrast to the usual muscle-developing and pumping exercises that involve bending the joints, the plank refers to isometric exercises, when the muscle experiences tension and contraction, but its length does not change. It is precisely this kind of training that contributes to the development of “abs of steel” and tightness of muscles, and not to the banal increase in their volume.
For running, a balance between all muscle groups is important for stabilization, and the plank is the only exercise that achieves it. However, it is not recommended to do it when various spinal problems, such as hernia, are present.
The plank is an exercise in the performance of which the main rule must be observed – the straight position of the back and legs. Any bends in the back, shoulder girdle, knees or pelvis violate the correctness of the exercise. With the exception of some varieties of plank, the body must always be straightened in one line, not without reason that the word plank is translated from English as a plank.
It is believed that almost all such static exercises came to us from the practice of yoga. The most popular, classic variation of the plank is the straight elbowstand.
How much to keep the bar up
An excellent plank holding time is more than 2 minutes. An untrained person with a low level of training is unlikely to be able to produce such a result immediately if the exercise is performed correctly. You can assess your level by the following parameters:
- Less than 30 seconds: poor result
- 30 seconds to 1 minute: average
- 1 to 2 minutes: good
- More than 2 minutes: excellent
The load in the classical plank can be adjusted by the position of the legs: the wider they are spread apart, the easier it is to perform the exercise.
Mistakes in the execution of the plank
1. The most common mistake is a lumbar back sag. To avoid it, the abs and glutes must work together to prevent the pelvis from twisting (lunging) forward.
This can be practiced standing up. By retracting the abdomen and tensing the buttocks, you will feel the pelvic area take different positions, now protruding forward, now backward, forming or, on the contrary, eliminating a bend in the lumbar spine. Proper running technique implies a neutral position of the pelvis in relation to the body, without bending or lunging.
2. The second gross mistake is the incorrect positioning of the arms. The elbow joints should be positioned exactly below the shoulder joints in order to avoid unnecessary load on them. You can lock your hands together for stability or place your forearms parallel, there is not much difference.
The second point, however, applies only to the classic body position. Some variations, including dynamic ones, require a different hand position. But these exercises are designed for more advanced athletes.
In addition to the classic version of the plank, there are others, mainly aimed at advanced athletes, because they are harder to perform. But they do not cease to be less necessary because they create an even stronger root.
These include the side plank and holding positions with the support of one arm or leg. There are also dynamic and semi-dynamic exercises in which the positions of the limbs alternate. You will be able to invent such exercises on your own later on, adjusting the load you need.
In the video you can see numerous (and not all) variations of exercises, based on the classic plank.
If you find it difficult to hold the classical plank for at least 20-30 seconds, even with your legs apart, you can simplify it for the first time. For example, you can assume a kneeling position instead of a toe position.
The general main rule for all static exercises is that it is not so much the duration of the hold that matters, but the correctness.
Plank and weight loss
Static exercises are not active fat-burning exercises. Although they require considerable effort, their duration is too short and they use glycogen as fuel.
Of course, you can lose weight with the plank if you do it all day long, but the essence of this exercise is different – to train and strengthen the muscles to stabilize the body frame.
Nevertheless, the plank creates a slender posture and a correct position of the back and pelvis. In combination with running or other cardio exercises that help to burn fat, static exercises you can achieve the desired flat stomach.