A super simple yet super effective exercise for the strengthening the core, Lomax Personal Trainer, Will Mather, breaks down the basic plank technique and provides 5 variations to challenge the whole body!
Core exercises are crucial to any exercise regimen as they strengthen the body by engaging multiple muscle groups simultaneously – particularly the pelvis, hip, and lower back area. ‘The Plank’ is one of the easiest, most effective exercises to work the core. Including it in your workout will help to:
- • Improve balance and posture
- • Flatten and strengthen your abs
- • Stabilise the lower back
With the knees and forearms placed firmly on the ground to create a stable base, raise the hips off the floor to contract the muscles and hold, squeezing the stomach in to the spine and keeping a straight back. Remember to continue to breathe normally!
2. BASIC PLANK
Lie face down with your legs extended and elbows bent directly under your shoulders, clasping your hands. Your feet should be hip-width apart and elbows should be shoulder-width apart. Raise your hips and knees off the floor and hold. Easy!
3. SIDE PLANK
Side planks are particularly effective for training your obliques and really help to stabilise your spine. Start on your side with your body in a straight line from head to heel and your elbow directly beneath your shoulders. Lift your hips and hold the position for as long as you can without letting them drop. Repeat on the other side.
4. REVERSE PLANK
The reverse plank exercise is an often-overlooked exercise for the core. It isolates the posterior muscles (eg. glutes, hamstrings and lower back) and can be used as a rehab exercise to help improve core strength and spinal stabilisation. Start seated, pressing your palms into the floor. Lift your hips and torso toward the ceiling. Point your toes, keeping your arms and legs straight. Keep your entire body strong and form a straight line from your head to your toes. Squeeze your core and try to pull your belly button back towards your spine. If your hips sag or drop, lower yourself back to the floor.
5. REDUCED GROUND CONTACT
Small variations like reducing the amount of ground contact make the movement much harder to perform. One of the most effective ways to amplify a plank is simply to lift up an arm or foot. In doing this, your body has to work harder to resist instability and rotational force. Start by holding a plank with only one foot in contact with the ground and then progress to lifting an arm. When you feel solid on three points of contact, cut back to two: one arm and one leg.
If you can hold this for 60-90 seconds with good technique, pat yourself on the back, grab a BOSU and challenge that core with even less stability!
Will Mather is a Personal Trainer at Lomax Chelsea. Call 020 7352 0598 or email email@example.com to book a session.