Inspired by the plank challenge on Instagram? Read on to learn more about an exercise that promises better endurance, improved stability and balance, and increased metabolism.
Social media has given rise to all kinds of participatory challenges.From the famous ice bucket challenge promoting awareness of ALS to the breathtaking “shoot for the sky” challenge on TikTok, the varitions are endless. Those related to exercise routines have been trending too, gaining traction as people increasingly work out from home. One of these is the plank challenge, which involves a 30-day workout program. Each day, the amount of time one holds a plank gradually increases. Instagram users have been quick to pick up on the trend, as more than 410,000 posts are already tagged with the #plankchallenge hashtag. Celebrities and public figures like German-Chinese-Indonesian footballer Kim Kurniawan, as well as Irfan Haarys Bachdim and his wife, Jennifer Bachdim, have given the challenge a try, further increasing its popularity.
Simplicity is one of the factors making the plank popular as it can be done easily anywhere without any equipment. However, we have to admit that planking is also one of the most torturous exercises where a minute can often feel like an eternity. But the extensive list of benefits makes the pain worth enduring.
More often than not, planking is seen as a way to get six-pack abs. But while it does target the core muscles, the isometric exercise that also strengthens your shoulders, lower back, glutes, hips, diaphragm, and pelvis as long as it is done properly. Furthermore, the exercise targets the muscles in legs and arms. Compared to other exercises like crunches, planks have been proven more effective in improving balance and endurance, as well as maintaining mobility. Besides toning the core muscles, planking also helps improve your stability and balance. The flexibility of your muscles also gets a boost, helping you move freely without feeling tired quickly. We might not realize it but there are numerous daily activities that require a stable core. Without a strong and stable core, Tiger Woods wouldn’t be able to hit a golf ball accurately and Elle Woods, instead of showing her iconic “bend and snap” in “Legally Blonde,” would end up falling headlong and probably making the ladies’ at Neptune’s Beauty Nook laugh. Planking can increase your body metabolism, which is closely linked to the muscles. As we build our muscles through the exercise, the metabolism rate increases and more calories can be burned. This improves the muscle-to-fat ratio, meaning that illnesses associated with obesity such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease can be prevented. It’s also an effective method of building your endurance, especially when you hold a plank for longer and longer periods each day. Last but not least, planking can reduce the risk of experiencing lower back injuries and pain. Your body posture will inevitably improve, resulting in a lower chance of back strain.
HOW TO DO A PLANK
As with other exercises, it’s important to do planks in the correct way. Improper exercise can impact your body negatively and cause muscle injuries. To start with, you should get in a push- up position first and position your elbows right below your shoulders. Beginners can do planks on knees. To do a high plank, extend your arms fully. Next, make sure your toes and palms are planted on the floor. Keep your back straight and tighten your core. To make the exercise effective, your body has to be in a straight line and your core should be tight while you hold a plank. Make sure your head and back don’t curve upward or downward. If you want a harder challenge, plant your forearms on the floor instead of your palms and toes. Hold this position for a certain period of time while breathing normally. For beginners, start with 10 seconds for each plank. As you get more familiar with the exercise and build your endurance, you can increase the time in increments of five to ten seconds. In the plank challenge, you start with 10 seconds on day one and increase the time by 10 seconds each day, meaning you will have to hold your plank for five minutes on day thirty. As you do more planks, you might feel like the exercise is no longer difficult to perform. To try new challenges, you can add some movements to your planks by rocking backward and forward with your feet. You can also lift your leg while planking as an alternative. There’s also a plethora of plank variations that incorporate weights to take your exercise routine to the next level.
BEFORE YOU START…
Planking is an excellent addition to your workout routine. It helps build your endurance, tone your muscles, reduce the risk of muscle injuries, and improve your posture. However, as with different exercises, you should plank with caution. If you experience pain while doing a plank, you are not doing it correctly. A mirror can help you determine whether you have a good plank position or not. When it comes to planking, beginners should resist the temptation to be overly ambitious. You can start with five seconds, take a rest for five seconds, and hold a plank again for five seconds to finish one set. Doing the exercise excessively can easily lead to muscle strain—it’s important not to go beyond one’s physical capacity.
If you wish to get a six-pack, remember that planking is only part of the equation. Try to consume more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Reduce your consumption of sweet drinks and processed food or say goodbye to them for good if you want. Of course, doing a plank is not recommended for pregnant women and those with injuries. If you have never tried any exercise programs, it’s best to consult with your doctor first to determine whether planking is the right one for you, depending on your physical or health condition. Planking may rank among the most strenuous exercises to try, as advanced gym- goers can attest. Still, it is, if not the best, one of the most effective exercises to build your endurance. Offering an array of benefits for your body, planking is a must-do that should be incorporated into your workout routine. With patience and persistence, all your sweat and pain will eventually pay off.
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