YOU KNOW THE SAYING: Work smarter, not harder. You may have incorporated that mentality into your training routine, subbing without focusing, subbing in for a 60-minute workout for a strategic 30-minute session, or opting for an active recovery day instead of another grueling class. of HIIT. Bravo for balance! But what about your boards? If you are still holding out for a few minutes at the end, you are wasting your time. Less is more when it comes to this OG core exercise at least when it comes to the number on the clock.
You may look around at the gym and notice other sweaty people around you are in the plank position for either a brief moment or a marathon hold. If you’re wondering how long the average exerciser holds a plank, you’re asking the wrong question. There really is no such thing as a standard here everyone is working towards different goals, from different starting points and with different levels of fitness. The better question is: how long should it take? you hold a board?
general speech, time under tension is a good thing for growing muscles. However, anything over two minutes for a plank is at best, pointless, or worst of all, harmful. Enough, Dan John, Men’s Health contributor and author of can you go told us before. It’s just a board. More is not better.
So, what does this mean for your boards? How long should you hold one for the best results, and how can you make sure you’re getting the maximum benefit for your effort? here, Kevin Carr, CSFC and co-founder of Movement as Medicineshares how to step up your planking game and give this core-stabilizing exercise the attention it deserves.
How Long Should You Hold a Plank?
Whether you’re a beginner looking to build core strength or looking to dial in your planks, the exercise can help create intra-abdominal pressure and build isometric, anti-extension strength in the obliques and rectus abdominis muscles, according to to Carr. It’s a great tool to build anterior core strength and the ability to statically control your spine, rib cage, and pelvis in the sagittal plane, he says.
As far as what the goal is, I recommend working to hold a front plank up to a minute maximum, says Carr. That’s because your form can start to suffer the longer you’re at it and contributes to lower back pain, not to mention planks aren’t a functional exercise because you don’t do them in everyday life, he explained. Beyond 60 seconds, you start to reach a point of diminishing returns, and it’s probably best to start progressing towards exercises that are multi-planar and or more dynamic.”
If you’re doing the plank properly, you’ll struggle to hold the position sooner than you expect. This could mean you only hold the plank for 10 seconds, or you can go up to 60 seconds. To start, do 20 to 30 seconds holding your goal.
How to Get the Most Out of Your Planks
Before moving on to plank variations or progressing to more difficult core moves, you want to make sure you’re actually getting the plank right. There’s a big difference between a loose, mindless board and a strong, stable board with good engagement, Carr says.
When you focus on setting up properly and actively engaging your abdominal muscles in the front plank, you’ll find that you’ll get more out of the exercise and won’t hold it for as long, he says. Often, in a relaxed front plank, you’re just hanging out at the top of the plank position with poor spinal alignment through passive tension in your spine instead of actively using our abdominal muscles to stabilize the position.
How to Do the Plank
- Lower yourself to the ground and tuck your elbows directly under your shoulders, legs extended. Rest your weight on your elbows and your toes.
- Squeeze your glutes and core to create full-body tension. Think about pulling your belly button into your spine.
- Engage your low back, lats, and rhomboids. Your back should form a straight line; don’t let your pelvis sink or your buttocks rise.
- Keep your gaze straight ahead, keeping your neck in a neutral position.
- Maintain tension as long as you hold the plank. If you lose tension before the time is up, end the hold.
Focus on improving the quality and intensity of your plank instead of trying to hold it as long as possible. You should think about actively engaging your anterior abdominals, glutes, and adductors and active breathing to maximize the effectiveness of the exercise, he adds. Once you really get the hang of the board, you can think about leveling it up in progressions.
Other variations of lumber
Break up the monotony of forearm and high planks with these genius variations that offer variety for your mind and muscles. After mastering the plank, you should move toward exercises that challenge the core dynamically and force you to resist movement in multiple planes of motion, Carr says.
Plank Shoulder Taps
- Start in a high plank position with palms under shoulders, pelvis tucked, and core braced. Place feet slightly wider than hip distance apart to create a wider center of gravity.
- Raise your left hand and bring it to your right shoulder. Pause for a few seconds, then return your hand to the ground.
- Repeat on the other side by tapping the right hand on the left shoulder and return to the starting position. Continue alternating shoulder taps while keeping the hips stable.
Sets and Reps: 8 to 10 taps per arm
- Start on all fours with hands under shoulders and knees under hips. Press the palms into the ground with the inside of the elbow facing forward to engage the lats.
- Brace the core as you lift the knees just an inch or two off the ground and hold. Take a deep breath as you draw your navel to your spine.
Sets and Reps: Hold the same way you would a standard plank, starting with 30 seconds
Plank with Leg Lift
- Start in a forearm plank position with elbows under shoulders, knees off the ground, pelvis tucked and glutes engaged. You can put the feet out a little wider than hip-width apart to create strong stability.
- Brace your core as you lift your right foot just an inch or two to hover off the floor. Pause for a moment or two, then return the toes to the floor.
- Repeat on the other side, lifting your left leg a few inches off the floor, holding, then returning the toes to the ground.
- Continue alternating heel lifts being careful not to rotate at the hip.
Sets and Reps: 8 to 10 lifts on each leg
Alyssa Sparacino is an ACE-certified personal trainer, former editorial director of Shape, as well as an editor, and writer with a focus on fitness, health, and wellness. His work has been published online and in print for brands including Shape, Health, Fortune, What to Expect, Mens Journal, Ask Men, Travel & Leisure, Chewy, and more. When she’s not writing or lifting weights, you’ll find her hiking, exploring, and eating with her husband and rescue dog.
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