Lately, calisthenics or bodyweight exercises have gained a lot of popularity because they are a great way to increase strength and your ability to move functionally.
The best part is that they can be performed almost anywhere, and without any equipment. The plank is a great exercise regardless of whether you have experience in bodyweight training or not.
The Benefits of doing Planks Daily
Doing planks does not require you to spend a lot of time, and even spending just 5 to 15 minutes every day doing them can help you make a lot of progress in your fitness.
After reading about the benefits of doing planks daily, you’ll realise why it is regarded as an essential bodyweight exercise.
Here are some of the benefits of doing planks:
1. Planks are an effective way to burn calories
Although people tend to associate cardiovascular exercises to burning calories, bodyweight exercises such as planks are a great way to get similar results. Of course, doing a 30 minute run will burn more calories than trying to plank for 30 seconds, but try doing 10 sets of 1 minute long planks without breaking a sweat (not as easy as it sounds).
2. Cardiovascular fitness
Doing planks can also improve your cardiovascular fitness. Planking requires you to tense your abdominal muscles, making it hard for you to breathe. Becoming adept at breathing while your abs are tensed will make you more efficient while doing cardiovascular exercise.
If you feel like normal planks are too easy for you, try setting a record for how long you can plank and try to add 10 seconds to it every day. Additionally, you can try variations such as one legged planks or side planks. Doing variations will give you a challenge and will prevent the workout from being boring.
3. You will strengthen your whole core
The plank works your whole core, and I don’t mean your abs. Your core includes everything from your shoulders down to your glutes. Sure, abs are a part of your core, but doing planks will stabilise your shoulders and hips, tighten your back and abdominal muscles, shape your obliques, and strengthen your glutes. It’s likely over time they can help you to get abs.
You can also strengthen your chest and forearms by doing the plank at the top of the push up position. The benefits of increased core strength are endless: you will be able to bend and twist more efficiently, lift heavier weights without injuring yourself, perform complex movements, and experience better posture.
4. Planks can help correct your posture
If you’re like most people, you probably sit for most of the time you’re awake. While you drive to work, while you are at work, when you come home from work and sit on the couch to watch your favourite show on Netflix.
The point is that while you sit all day, your posture suffers. Tight hip flexors, weak glutes, rounded shoulders and increased stress on your lower back.
Overtime, your posture will deteriorate and lead to back pain and injuries. Doing planks everyday will counter this by strengthening the muscles in your body and improve your posture.
Stronger abdominal muscles and a more stable lower back help you stand up straighter while the increased strength in your glutes will help counteract the effects of tight hip flexors. Along with doing planks, try getting up and stretching every once in a while throughout your day of sitting.
5. You will become more resistant to injury
I said earlier that planks help correct your posture. This is one of the reasons for your improved resistance to injury, the other is increased strength.
Lots of people injure their backs while trying to lift heavy things off of the ground, and this is mainly due to a weak lower back. Doing planks frequently strengthens your lower back and stabilises your spine so that it becomes more resilient to injury if it is ever put in a compromised position.
Furthermore, lots of people experience hamstring injuries while running (or even while walking if the leg muscles are not being used frequently). This usually happens because the hamstring has to compensate for the weak gluteal muscles, leading to hamstring pulls or tears.
Increased glute strength is one of the benefits of doing planks frequently, and will help prevent hamstring injuries while running or playing sport. To really strengthen and tighten that booty, work your way up until you’re able to do one legged planks and side planks. These two variations really focus on the glutes and will not only prevent injuries, but also shape your butt better than most exercises.
6. Planks improve your mobility
I said earlier that hamstrings have to often compensate for weak glutes. Similarly, if your abdominal muscles are not strong enough, your hip flexors often have to compensate and provide the core stability while playing sport or doing certain movements. As a consequence of these tight hip flexors, you will experience a reduction in hip mobility which restricts you from performing a lot of movements properly such as squatting or rotating the hips.
Planks can help you develop the necessary strength in your abdominal muscles so that the hips don’t have to compensate for the lack of core stability. To be able to perform simple or complex movements, it’s all about ensuring that there are no imbalances. Core exercises such as planks are an essential tool in achieving that goal.
7. You’ll experience improved mood
Like any other exercise, planks will boost your mood by releasing endorphins and relaxing the mind. Furthermore, planks are an effective way to release tension in many of the areas that are constantly under tension due to our lifestyle.
One such area is the hip flexor, which is constantly under a state of tightening because of our sitting habits. What the planks does is allow the hips to open up and release the stress that is built up due to the constant stress in the area.
Regardless of whether you are a beginner in bodyweight training or are looking to nail that human flag, the plank is a classic exercise that should be implemented in your training regimen. If you’re still unsure, try doing planks for 5 to 15 minutes a day and experience the benefits for yourself!
How to do a Plank
To experience the many benefits of the plank exercise you will want to make sure you know how to do it correctly. The plank is one of those deceptive types of exercises where you think you are doing it correctly, but in reality you may not be. The fact that you can’t see your own form is what makes it easy to get it wrong.
Doing a plank correctly is vital. When I first started doing planks I assumed I was doing it correctly. But after a while I began to feel pain in my shoulders and wrists. As a result my core barely improved even though I spent a lot of time doing planks.
The video above shows a common mistake a lot of people make which is to allow the lower back to curve. You want to keep it flat and tuck the pelvis in.
Want to Get Started? Try the 3-Minute Plank Workout
If you want to start incorporating a daily plank routine into your day, the video above has a great workout for you to try. It is quite an advanced routine so if you are a beginner to the plank exercise you can modify the exercises by doing them on your knees.
As you’ve discovered in this post, plank exercises are easy to do and yet provide so many benefits. If you aren’t already doing them, don’t delay and start today! In time you’ll start to experience all the benefits for yourself!