The plank is a core exercise you perform by holding a push-up position while resting on your forearms. It’s one of the most effective bodyweight exercises for strengthening the core muscles.
A strong core is crucial for everyday movements and activities.
Nearly all movements you make involve your core. Whether getting up or rotating your body, your movement either originates from or goes through your core.
In addition to being an effective move for your core, it’s also a great exercise for sculpting the abs.
Being a static exercise, the plank is far undervalued for its massive benefits.
In fact, plank exercise is actually so good for your body that there are many plank workouts available for people of all fitness levels.
The plank is also one exercise when you master the standard plank, you can try other variations. Side planks, bear planks, dynamic planks – there are all advanced variations of planks that help you level up.
Regardless of your fitness level, the best place to start is always the basic plank. This simple isometric move is a great test of your current core strength.
How Long to Hold a Plank
How long should you hold a plank? What’s the mark of good core strength?
According to a Harvard study, the world record for holding a plank is 4 hours. Thankfully, you don’t need hours of planking to build core strength. According to many experts, all you really need is 30-60 seconds.
If you grossly underperform that mark, it’s time to start building a stronger core with regular planking exercise.
Conversely, if you are able to hold a plank for grossly more than 60 seconds, you are ready for a more challenging plank.
Below, we’ll walk you through how to do a perfect plank and some popular and notable plank benefits.
Benefits of Plank
1. Strengthen Your Core
Regularly practicing plank helps develop your core strength.
The core muscles are comprised of several muscle groups including your abs, glutes, back, and hips. Having a stronger core means you can move better, have more balance, and have better posture.
If you suffer from poor posture or lower back pain due to a weaker core, the plank can help.
Plank is a bodyweight exercise you can do anywhere without equipment. All you need is some open space and a few minutes of your time.
3. Protects your back
Back pain whether sporadic or chronic is a common problem many people face. One way to make your back more prone to back pain is to have better posture and a stronger core.
A stronger core can help protect your spine and prevent unnecessary pressure on your back.
It also helps protect you in everyday movements like bending, sitting, and getting up.
What Muscles Do Planks Work?
Plank primarily works your core muscles, which are located between your pelvic floor and diaphragm. The core muscles are essentially the ones that cover the trunk. These muscles serve to stabilize your spine and support movements.
Core muscles include:
- Rectus abdominis (frontal abs muscles).
- Obliques (side of your abdominals).
- Transversus abdominis (wraps around your sides and spine).
How to Do a Plank Correctly
The plank is a static abdominal exercise that builds core strength and stability. By holding your body in the plank position, you work multiple major muscles in your body. The longer you can hold a plank, the stronger abdominal muscles are.
Plank is a great ab exercise to add to your regular routine.
To perform a plank:
- Get down on all fours with your elbows on the floor. Position your elbows right below your shoulders, and knees directly below the hips. Facedown and keep your head relaxed throughout the exercise.
- Tuck in your abs and draw your navel toward your spine. Lift your knees off the floor to come up. Adjust your body so it forms a straight line from head to heels.
- Don’t curve your back and drop the hips. This is the neutral spine position.
- Hold this plank position for 30-60 seconds.
The plank strengthens your ability to brace your abdominal and stabilizes the spine. It’s a great ab and core workout you can do anywhere with just your body weight. Planks can also activate other muscles like glutes, hamstrings, and lower back.