The summer is here, and we know you’re already rocking your most stunning summer dresses and bathing suits. But if you’re looking to tone up just a little, adding one simple workout move to your daily routine can make all the difference — the plank.
This move is so good for your body, and a little practice goes a really long way. Not only that, but you can do them anywhere! First and foremost, practicing planks targets your core muscles. While exercises like sit-ups will only target the top core muscles (called the rectus abdominis muscles), planks target the lower core muscles (that means a tighter lower-belly!) as well as your obliques and transverse abdominals (those are the muscles along the side body that give you an hourglass shape).
That’s not all. Beyond the core, planks secondarily target almost every major muscle on the body. They can help tone and sculpt your back muscles, your shoulders and arms, your hip flexors, thighs, and glutes, all the way down to your legs and calves!
By targeting all the major muscles in your body, planks not only help you look more toned, but practicing them can also improve your posture and relieve other troubles like digestive and circulation issues, and even back and shoulder pain. Keeping your musculature strong in this way puts all your organs in optimal placement to facilitate better digestion, proper blood flow, and posture that helps relieve tension!
After reading all of these benefits, you might want to start planking right away. The good thing is, planks are an exercise you can practice daily, and you can start off with a beginners version until you get strong enough for a full plank position. To test this, try the beginners plank and see how long you can hold it. If you can hold for more than. 60 seconds, upgrade to a full plank. If not, stick with the beginners and work your way up. The beginners plank is performed like this:
- Place your hands (or your elbows, if you want to perform a forearm plank TK IS ONE BETTER? HARDER ETC?) on the ground directly beneath your shoulders.
- Extend your legs all the way back so that your knees are lifted and your spine is forming a straight line. Then, rest your knees gently on the ground. (If your knees are sensitive, place a folded towel or small blanket underneath them for added cushion and support).
- Gaze at the floor a few feet in front of you — don’t look down! This will help you keep your neck elongated.
- Lift your toes off floor so your legs are at a slight angle.
- Hold this posture for as long as you can. Even if you begin at 15 seconds, you’re still getting the benefits!
To challenge yourself with planks, begin at whatever time you can hold your plank for, and each week, try to increase that time by 15 seconds. In no time, you’ll notice your posture improving and your body getting stronger. And once you’re able to hold a beginners plank for 60 seconds with ease, begin practicing with your knees lifted, forming a full straight line from your crown to your toes. Again, you can begin with as little as 15 seconds and each week, slowly work your way up!