Planking: Does it work?
You’ve probably heard the term “planking” before—you may or may not have tried it out yourself. This exercise is popping up in homes, yoga studios, and gyms everywhere, but does it work? In this post, we will explore the process of planking, give you tips for successful planking, and take a look at some the health benefits from planking.
We have all been there, lying on our back in the living room or a gym, trying to muster the strength and motivation to do a handful of crunches or dozens of sit-ups. In comes the plank. Unlike traditional abdominal exercises that require you to lie on your back and make repetitive motions over and over again, planking is an isometric, or motionless, exercise.
The name “planking” comes from the principal aim of the exercise — keeping your entire body from head to toe in a straight line. The traditional plank looks a little something like this: start by lying face down on a flat surface (carpet, hardwood floor, yoga mat, etc.) with your legs together in a straight line. Place the palms of your hands down on the floor next to your shoulders as if you are about to do a pushup. Next—making sure to keep your entire body straight (no bending of the neck, hips, or knees!)—lift your body up off the floor by extending your arms until your elbows are straight. At this point, only your hands and toes should be touching the floor, and your body should be entirely in line from head to toe, like a “plank” of wood. Holding this position still for a number of seconds will help strengthen your back and abdominal muscles—you’ll feel it!
(If you have difficulty doing a pushup, or just want an easier starting point, you can begin your plank in a kneeling position.)
Planking has numerous health benefits. Studies have shown this exercise improves abdominal muscle thickness. Planking has also been shown to improve balance and mobility (especially in the elderly, or even people suffering from stroke or multiple sclerosis), athletic performance, and chronic low-back pain.
Where do I start?
- Start short: Plank a few times for 10-15 seconds on the first day.
- Watch yourself: Plank in front of a mirror or have someone watch you to make sure your hips aren’t too high or too low.
- Schedule it: Set a daily routine and stick to it! It also helps to plank with a partner.
- Go longer: Slowly increase your plank time by a few seconds every day or so.
- Use an app: There are tonnes of mobile apps that will help you track your planking, and some even have programs to increase your times!