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The Superpowers Of A Plank

A man doing plank exercise

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The core exercise everyone should be doing

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Raise your hands if you love doing the plank. No can’t do? Well, you’re not alone. We don’t know too many people who get excited about doing the plank! It’s time to start warming up to this power move because it activates all of your core muscles. Mumbai-based certified personal trainer and sports nutritionist, Bhaskar Shetty explains, “For a basic isometric (contraction of a particular muscle or group of muscles) exercise, the plank strengthens your whole body. Apart from making your core pop, it builds your shoulders, arms, gluteus and also makes your lower back strong. All in a few minutes, too!”

The importance of having a strong core
If you find yourself often complaining about lower back pain, it could be because of a weak core! Says Shetty, “Back muscles and your core help to stabilise your body before any movement. Your core is made up of several muscle groups and covers your abdominals, back, hips, pelvis, and buttocks. This means, for you to set personal records with your other moves like the deadlift or weighted squats—you need to have a strong core.” A weak core can result in poor posture, and that in-turn can cause neck and shoulder pain,  sore knees and hips.

The benefits of the plank

1. Strong abs: “I’ve been working out regularly at the gym for the last three years,” says 29-year-old Hritesh Mehta.  “I thought that doing loads of crunches would give me abs of steel and help me run quicker. I couldn’t have been more wrong! In 2019, I started training with a personal instructor and started following a weight lifting routine, which included a series of abdominal exercises. Ab-crunches weren’t even on the list! Suddenly, planks became a key part of my core routine. Today, my core is at its strongest best, and my abs are flat, defined and solid!”

2. Improves balance: Planks can help you find your centre of gravity; the practice of balancing the body on our elbows and toes helps reveal the point at which the body weight is balanced. “Physical balance not only improves endurance and flexibility, but also plays a role in achieving mental balance,” adds Shetty.

3. Improves posture: Good posture keeps your bones and joints correctly aligned. Proper posture also improves the back and spine. People who practice the plank regularly experience fewer back pain episodes and spine issues. Shetty says when the gyms were shut during the lockdown, one move he did daily without fail was the plank. “I didn’t want to lose my core strength. It also helped with my posture and lower back pain even when I was WFH.”

4. Boosts metabolism: Planking challenges the entire body, and can help you burn more calories than sit-ups and regular crunches. What’s better, the muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise every day ensure that your body continues to burn energy even when you’re sedentary. “Just one minute of planks every day before and after work is enough to significantly enhance your metabolic rate and maintain the high rate throughout the day,” adds Shetty.

The best exercise you can do will take up to two minutes. Sure, it’ll be the most gruelling 180 seconds of your life, but it will be worth it. What seals the deal is that the plank has many variations, meaning; it can be done by almost anyone, regardless of their fitness levels.

How long should you hold your plank for?

The world record for holding a plank is five hours!!! Thankfully, you don’t need to hold on for that long!  According to a blog on the Harvard Health Publishing, most experts suggest anywhere from 10 up to 30 seconds is plenty. “Focus on doing multiple sets of smaller amounts of time,” says Shetty. “As your strength improves, you can extend your plank for up to one or even two minutes, and reap all of its benefits.”

 

[Image Credit: Freepik]

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