Planking is a great way to build core strength. Like yoga, planking doesn't require any cardiovascular exercise or movement. Instead, in its most basic form, planking is the practice of holding an elongated position on the floor, where the body is supported only by the toes and elbows.
But how long does one have to hold this position to reap its benefits, and what exactly are the benefits of this powerful form of exercise?
How to Plank
Planks are best performed on an exercise or yoga mat to avoid slips and falls. To perform a plank, the following steps should be followed:
- Get down on all fours on top of an exercise mat.
- Place hands firmly on the ground shoulder-width apart.
- Extend legs behind the body, placing toes on the floor.
- Push up the upper half of the body, extending the arms with elbows slightly bent.
- Hold the position for the recommended amount of time.
How Long to Hold a Plank
The length of time a plank should be held depends on the person performing it. For beginners, holding a plank anywhere from 10 to 30 seconds is usually enough. As a person becomes stronger and more experienced at planking, holding the position anywhere from 30 seconds to two minutes is ideal.
Tips For Maintaining Perfect Form
Planking with perfect form is the best way to reap the benefits of this exercise. Most fitness experts suggest thinking of a plank as a push-up that's held for an increased amount of time, which can help when trying to achieve the right form. Keeping the back flat and the elbows and knees loose but straight can help to maintain comfort and safety while performing a plank.
Benefits of Planking
The benefits of planking are plentiful. In addition to improving core strength, planks can help people to improve posture and flexibility, as well as body alignment, balance, and coordination. Furthermore, planking provides the same mental health benefits as other forms of exercise such as weightlifting, running, and biking, meaning it can also alleviate signs of fatigue, depression, anxiety.
Exercises to Complement Planking
While planking is a great way to build strength, combining this position with other forms of exercise is best. Alternating sets of planks with exercises such as sit-ups and crunches, leg lifts, leg extensions, squats, or burpees can enhance overall fitness and endurance. Furthermore, it's best to combine these strength-enhancing activities with a healthy cardio routine, such as running, cycling, or swimming.