The majority of us live highly sedentary lives, especially when compared to our ancestors. Unfortunately, our bodies are not designed for such an activity-deficient lifestyle. As a result, we are hunched, weak and soft from hours upon hours of sitting.
So what can you do to keep your core powerful and functional without changing careers to increase activity? Work on your plank. The king of strength building, planks will improve your fitness rapidly and wholesomely. Here are 3 ways doing a plank every day will improve your body:
Strengthen Back Muscles
While sitting increases your risk of back injury, regularly doing planks decreases that risk. It engages the erector spinae, the muscles spiraling along your spinal column that are hugely responsible for stabilizing your spine. Sitting and slouching keeps these muscles unengaged and encourages them to atrophy. Simply waking them up on a daily basis can do wonders for your spinal health.
Be aware, if you already have an existing back injury or you experience back pain during a plank, consult a professional for assistance. Planking doesn’t work miracles, so you should make sure you are physically able before embarking on any sort of plank regimen
Build a Powerful Core
Oh, and if you’re looking for strong abs, planking uses more muscles than plain old crunches do. While crunches only work your outer layer of abdominal muscles, planking works the whole gamut. It strengthens your obliques, psoas, traverse and rectus abs, along with your glutes, quads, shoulders, back and spinal column. And if you start quivering, keep it up. That’s a sign that your muscles are pushing themselves. With practice, the quivering will stop and you’ll begin to notice a lot more strength and stability in your day-to-day.
By engaging and strengthening the muscles along the column of your spine and core, they will be better able to support your body in proper posture. You’ll find yourself slouching less and feeling a little bit taller. Since how we present ourselves says a lot, standing in a tall, stable manner can make you appear more confident, happy and trustworthy. Plus, you’ll feel great.
How to do a plank:
-Lying face-down on the floor, place your elbows beneath your shoulders, forearms parallel, hands in fists.
-Lift your body in a straight line so only your forearms and toes are touching the floor. Try to keep a straight line from your ears to your toes, being especially careful not to sag or pike in the hips. (*If that’s too much for you, alternately you could do a knee plank, with just your forearms and knees on the floor, keeping a straight line from your ears to your knee caps. Once you feel confident with that, you can attempt the plank as described above.)
-Keep your head and neck long and relaxed, your gaze just beyond your fists.
-Pull your belly button gently in towards your spine and hold for 10 seconds initially, working your way up to 120 seconds. If your stomach or hips drop or your hips pike towards the ceiling, the rep is over.
-When you succeed at holding the plank for 60-120 seconds, try lifting a single arm or foot an inch off the floor without moving anything else to amplify the intensity.
Planking doesn’t require fancy clothing, expensive workout gear, a gym membership or any sort of extraordinary strength or flexibility. It is a workout for the people. Combat your hours of sitting with a few planks, and you’ll soon notice changes in your fitness, posture and energy.