The plank exercise, or how to do abs of steel

I’m happy to welcome beginners and actively continuing! The plank exercise – today is about it, yes.

On the calendar is Wednesday, which means technical day and a corresponding post on the project “The ABCs of Bodybuilding”. Today we will be strengthening the muscular corset of the abdominal muscles with one simple but very effective exercise. After reading this you will learn all about its technique, mistakes and training program to build a steel abs.

So, let’s begin our narrative.

The plank exercise. What, why and what for?

Quite often I have to observe in the gym such a picture – newbies come in and immediately begin to beat their abs with standard exercises, such as twisting on a Roman bench or side twisting in hyperextension machine. Undoubtedly, the abdominal muscles are a very important and demonstrative muscle group, but it is not necessary to work with them according to a template standard. You can move away from these clichés and try something new and relatively outlandish, particularly the plank exercise. It is designed to create a rigid muscle corset in the abdomen and strengthen the foundation called the cortex muscles.

It is also worth saying that it is precisely not a pumping exercise, but a shaping, strengthening exercise, and therefore is not very popular among gym-goers. Due to this injustice, I decided to review this hermit :).

As usual, let’s start by looking at the muscle atlas, or rather those muscles that take the load.

As you can see, the plank exercise is not an isolation exercise and does not target the upper/lower abdominals or any other abdominals. It is a basic general strengthening exercise for all abdominal muscles. Going into technical details, the plank belongs to the class of isometric exercises, i.e., it is static and does not cause joint movement.

Note:

Further narration on the plank exercise will be in the form of small subchapters.

Main advantages

It develops many of the athlete’s bodily characteristics at once, such as:

№1. Strengthening and Development of Strength

The plank exercise is a unique exercise that (among other things) allows you to develop the strength of several muscle groups at once.

Its main effect is to strengthen the cortex muscles, especially the abdominal and back muscles. First of all, the exercise is focused on the erector spinae (spinal extensor), rectus and transverse abdominal muscles. When performed correctly, the major muscle groups in the neck area called the trapezius work. They help posture – support a person’s neck if he spends too much time in sedentary activities (working at a PC, office work).

Performing a plank helps to strengthen the shoulder muscles, thereby improving their performance, such as in an exercise like push-ups from the floor. Keeping your upper body on your arms allows the biceps muscle of the shoulder to be actively engaged, which helps develop your biceps.

Going down, the following muscle groups develop their strength.

The chest muscles are also involved in the work and get their own load. The exercise perfectly strengthens the abs (now that’s news :)). The lower back also plays an important role in holding the plank position. Moving along the body, we approach muscle groups such as the glutes, thighs and calves.

So, the plank helps to develop strength and strengthen many muscle groups. Rarely does an exercise without the use of exercise equipment allow you to do this.

№2. Mental Concentration

The psychological aspect of the exercise is also very important. When performing the plank, a person needs to concentrate, focus on the goal (to keep the body horizontal as long as possible) and show character – either to merge and peck his nose or to stand until the set time expires.

A great exercise that, in addition to strengthening a lot of muscles, allows you to train your will and “pump up” your mental characteristics.

№3. Stretching

Sedentary work causes muscles to stiffen and tighten. Holding the plank will pull a lot of muscles and relieve them of tension.

№4. Aesthetic look

The exercise is a great tool for those who want to affect their waistline – tighten the abdomen, make the abdominal wall more compact. The plank helps in improving the waistline, but does not get rid of the regimen, a balanced diet and various forms of cardio activity, the basic tools for “cleaning up” the abdomen.

Actually, with the benefits sorted out, now move on…

Plank exercise: technique

In theory and in practice, the plank requires that you cumulatively tense (contract) the cortex muscles while holding your own body weight on your arms (elbows and forearms) and toes. The technique of performance consists of the following steps.

Step #1.

Find a mirror wall/mirror in the fitness room (or at home) . Put a gymnastic fitness mat on the floor, take a horizontal position – supine support.

Step #2.

Extend your body, resting on two support points – elbows/forearms (bend your arms to a 90 degree angle) and toes of your feet.

Step #3.

Keep your back flat so you can mentally draw a straight line from your head to your heels. Tense your abdominal muscles and make sure your midsection doesn’t sag in the middle and your heel doesn’t bulge upward.

Step #4.

Hold this position for 30-60 seconds and do 3-5 repetitions.

Technically, the plank involves following all of the following rules.

Often the plank exercise is recommended as a therapeutic exercise to strengthen the back muscles (for example, after an injury). In this case, the course consists of 10 days with a “hanging duration” of 30 seconds to 1.5 minutes.

At first glance, it may seem like a “don’t hit a man when he’s down! – However, this is not the case. Not every person will be able to overcome the bar of 30 seconds from the first time. Of course, it is necessary to start small and to hold the horizontal as long as possible. In particular, use the following tips to increase the holding time:

Practice the exercise several times a day, trying to hold the position a little (even a few seconds) longer each time;

Use auxiliary exercises such as push-ups and pull-ups (or the upper block pull) to strengthen the profile muscles involved in the bar;

squats and deadlifts will also help strengthen the lower back and bark muscles.

Note:

If you don’t have the strength of your abdominal muscular corset to perform the classic plank, then you can practice a lighter version – with your knees bent. If you hold the position for more than 2 minutes, then you can move on to more advanced variations of the exercise.

When performing the plank you can watch the time, but it is best to be guided by the sensations – i.e. as soon as you feel the beginning of burning in the abdominal area, you can stop repeating.

Let’s move on.

Plank exercise: variations

As your training grows, the usual bar will seem to you a piece of cake, and then the following complicated variations of this exercise will come in handy.

№1. Plank and push-ups

Get into the classic plank position (a). Lift your body up to the upper push-up position with your arms (b). Hold at the top point (c), then reverse direction and return to elbow support. This is 1 repetition.

№2. Plank with a jump

Get into the classic plank position (a). Jump up slightly with your legs apart (b). Make sure your upper body does not rotate. Quickly return your legs to the starting position. This is 1 repetition.

№3. Hand-off plank

Get into the classic plank position (a). Lift and straighten your left arm, keeping it parallel to the rest of your body (b). Return to starting position, then raise right arm, repeat the specified number of times.

№4. Transitioning plank

Get into the classic plank position (a). Turn onto your left side into a side plank (b), hold for 10 seconds. Then turn onto your right side and do the right side plank, hold for 10 seconds (c). This is 1 repetition. Return to IP and repeat.

№5. Side plank with body rotation

Take a side plank position so that your right arm is directly above you and perpendicular to the floor (a). Pass your arm under your torso (b). Lift your arm back into the IP. This is 1 repetition. Roll to the other side and repeat.

№6. Straight arm plank with forward lunge

Lying down on your outstretched arms (a). Bring your right leg forward and place it next to your right arm (or as close as you can, (b)). Watch your hips – they should not sag or go too far up. Return leg to IP, repeat with left leg. This is 1 repetition.

№7. Plank on fitball and bench

Place your feet on the bench and rest your forearms on the fitness ball. Your body should form a straight line with your shoulders and ankles. Hold this position for 60 seconds.

Use these variations as you progress in the classic style.

Note:

Isometric exercises can cause a rise in blood pressure, so if you have cardiovascular problems, you should avoid doing the plank exercise.

In conclusion, I would like to give you a simple 5-minute complex for every day. Do it, and then your bark muscles will be as steely as iron :).

Well, there you go, so all that’s left is to summarize all this bullshit information and draw appropriate conclusions.

Afterword

The plank exercise, nice to meet you! Considered to be the most effective for building a rigid muscle corset of the abs. Strengthening the latter will help to progress well in other exercises where you need good stabilization and support of the body, such as squats or deadlift. Theory is over, let’s get down to practice, let’s go!

  1. Let’s not limit ourselves to just reading, actively ask questions, write off comments and other stuff.

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