Move Better with More Core Strength!
I love the plank! Every time I do one, I am challenged. Even if my body is shaking at the end, boy do I feel strong! The plank is one of those exercises that you hate in the moment, but when it is over, it is very gratifying!
The plank is a core strengthening exercise. Most people want to “work their core” so they can trim their waistlines and build core strength to help their lower backs. The plank can help you achieve both of those goals. But there is so much more that a plank does for you.
Benefits of the Plank
- Builds all over strength in the body by creating tension in virtually every muscle.
- Helps all the parts of your body learn to work together to support your movement and posture.
- Stabilizes the shoulders, and helps eliminate neck stiffness.
- Improves your balance and posture.
- And because all you need to Plank is some space on the floor, you can do it anywhere!
Core strength is essential for every movement we take during the course of the day. With a strong core, we move better and our posture is more aligned. This relieves a great deal of pressure on our joints – keeping them healthy too! Having a strong core also helps keep us injury free, especially when we exercise.
The plank is a very challenging exercise – even for those at the highest levels of fitness. And because of that, it can be intimidating to those at the beginning of their fitness journey.
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How to Develop a Full Body Plank
At Strand Fitness, we introduce our clients to planks using a four-step strategy that is explained in this video:
Stage 1: Kneeling Plank
A kneeling plank is a great starting point. Your body gets the benefit of the plank but with a lessened amount of stress on the upper body. This allows you to build core strength but at a level that does not overwhelm the body. You can concentrate on your technique, building the foundation for the next stages.
Stage 2: Incline Plank
Once you can hold a kneeling plank for 45-60 seconds, you are likely ready to advance to this next stage. With an incline plank, you are using a support (such as a bench, fitness step, or even a countertop) to place your hands while keeping your feet on the floor. You are in a full body plank position, but not yet challenging yourself with the full weight of your body.
Practice this version of the plank until you can hold it for 45-60 seconds. Lower the incline to challenge yourself until you are ready to perform the exercise on the floor.
Stage 3: Full Body Plank on Forearms
When you are ready to progress your plank (your personal trainer can help you assess your readiness), perform the plank on the floor by supporting your body on your forearms and your toes. Many people prefer this version of the plank over supporting their upper body from their hands/wrists (see Stage 4), especially if they have shoulder, wrist, and hand issues.
Practice the plank consistently (at least twice a week) by performing two to three sets, holding for 45-60 seconds each set.
Stage 4: Full Body Plank from Hands/Wrists
In this stage, both your feet and your hands/wrists are on the floor and supporting your full body weight. Once you can hold this version of the plank for 45-60 seconds (two to three sets), you are rockin’ it! You may hate it when you do it, but you will love the strength you gain!
***Please note: Only do the exercises presented in this video if it is safe for your body. Always check with your medical professional before starting a fitness program.***
Move better with a stronger core!
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Strand Fitness is a personal training studio in Downtown Wheaton, serving Glen Ellyn, Carol Stream, Winfield, & Chicago Western Suburbs. To learn more about how Strand Fitness can help you reach your fitness goals, contact Pam (630-653-8152) and schedule your free fitness consultation.