"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Straight talk on planking

The best workout I do takes only a minute.

Granted, this is usually the longest and most painful 60 seconds of my life. I sweat, I shiver, and I often collapse in relief when it's over. But spending quality time in plank pose all the time pays off.

Plank pose is where you hold a push-up position while resting in your arms. This easy move is the best exercise to strengthen vital core muscles. As you go about your day, almost every movement you make revolves around your core – from picking up items on the ground to checking if the coast is obvious while driving.

Why is it vital to have a robust core?

Your core is made up of several muscle groups and covers your abdomen, back, hips, pelvis and buttocks. A weak core may cause all types of problems. This can result in poor posture, and inevitably neck and shoulder pain. Injuries to the knees and hips can often be seen on account of a weak core.

But the largest problem with core weakness is back pain. Back muscles and your core help stabilize your body before any movement. If your core is weak, other surrounding muscles must compensate. Over time, these muscles can develop into strained, resulting in chronic pain.

Pose as a substitute of sitting.

In comparison, plank pose prompts all of the core muscles directly, and doesn't require additional movements that may cause strain or injury. “And because there are so many variations, it can be done by almost anyone, regardless of current fitness level,” says L'Italien.

How long must you keep the plank?

The world record for a plank is greater than 4 hours, but thankfully you don't should spend that much time. Most experts suggest that anywhere from 10 to 30 seconds is sufficient. “Focus on doing multiple sets of shorter durations,” says L'Italien.

As you progress, you may increase your plank to a minute or two, but don't transcend that. “Two minutes is often considered the maximum, and you don't get much benefit after that,” says L'Italien.

How often must you do planks?

You can perform a plank day-after-day, on alternate days, or just as a part of your regular workout. (I sometimes wish to do my work during breaks within the workday.)

How to do a plank appropriately.

Here's learn how to do a plank the appropriate way:

  • Lie face down together with your arms on the ground, legs apart and feet together. You can use a mat or towel to make it more comfortable.
  • As you lift your body, push through your arms in order that it forms a straight line out of your head and neck to your feet. (Don't let your hips lift or sag.)
  • Keep your eyes down and hold this position as you engage your abdominal muscles. Take regular, even breaths.
  • Try to carry the position for 30 seconds after which lower your body and calm down. This completes a set. Work toward completing two to 3 sets.

When you first start doing planks, you might not have the opportunity to carry the right position for long. Keep practicing and you will notice that it becomes easier to do.

If resting in your arms is painful, do a plank from a push-up position together with your arms fully prolonged. If you have got back pain or other back problems, either put a plank in your knees or arise straight and lean against the counter in order that your body is at a forty five° angle.

If you wish more of a challenge, try alternating leg lifts throughout the pose: lift one leg for a second or two, after which repeat with the opposite leg.