Six remarkable health benefits of planks

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Six remarkable health benefits of planks

Everyone is looking for that one exercise giving them the biggest bang for their buck.  An exercise using multiple muscle groups that is efficient, effective, can be done anywhere and accommodate any fitness level.  Your search is over – planks are it.  

There are a handful of exercises everyone should be doing daily for achieving a phenomenal shape.  These include push-ups, squats, lunges and the ever-popular plank.  Out of these moves, planking may look to be the easiest but don’t be fooled by this deceptively simple-looking exercise.  It is much harder than it looks.  But it is one of the most incredibly powerful moves you can do to engage multiple muscle groups while simultaneously sculpting your body and best of all, it requires no equipment.

There are actually several different ways to do a plank working different muscles tightening them into shape making them strong.  If planks are new to you, start off with a basic version of a plank and slowly build up to various styles. 

Here are the reasons starting today, you need to learn how to do a plank to obtain the benefits it promises:

1.  It will strengthen your core

The all-important core muscles love it when you do planks.  The core muscles are composed of many different muscles in the abdomen, back, sides, pelvis, and buttocks.  Together, these muscles work allowing you to bend, twist, rotate, and stand upright.  Every day we use our core muscles when we lift, bend, or reach for something making them one of the most important muscle groups not to ignore.

Planking strengthens your core muscles to make those everyday tasks much easier and will improve your athletic ability.

2. They will tighten your tummy more effectively than sit-ups

Sit-ups have always been the gold standard of getting a flabby belly in shape.  But doing crunches is really not that efficient to getting that flat and toned tummy look.  Now getting into plank position is the way to go to get rock hard abs.

Even the U.S. military loves planks stating planks beat sit-ups every time.  Through laboratory research, planks have been shown to activate both abdominal and trunk muscles, support proper posture safeguarding the spinal position, while encouraging proper alignment of the spine. 

In addition, planking not only works abdominal muscles making them stronger but they also tone the obliques or sides of the abs giving them a more defined look.

3. Your back will become stronger

Performing sit-ups or crunches can be a back breaker instead of strengthener possibly causing injury to this area of the body.  Planks come to the rescue by keeping the spine in a neutral position eliminating the constant strain caused by flexing and extending the spinal column.

If someone has a weakened intervertebral disc, doing a sit-up can cause the disc to herniate or bulge.   Planks will be a safer form of exercise to perform as planking uses neutral spine loading and not trunk flexion like sit-ups do. 

Because of planks minimal movement, it will contract all layers of the abdominal fascia strengthening the core while helping to reduce lower back pain.

4. You will burn extra calories by increasing your metabolism

Cardiovascular exercises such as brisk walking or jogging will burn more calories than planks and should be part of an overall fitness routine.  But planks burn fat more efficiently since it is a type of strength training which raises your metabolic rate even after you’ve stopped exercising. 

Each pound of muscle you gain, your body burns about 50 calories more per day.  Gaining 10 pounds of muscle means you’ll be burning up to 500 calories per day more than before doing planks.

5. You’ll stand up straighter and have better balance

If you find yourself stooping over with poor posture, drop to the floor to do planks.  If done regularly, you will notice a difference in both sitting and standing up straighter more naturally.

The reason for this is when the core muscle group is engaged and strengthened, this leads to stronger stomach and back muscles which leads to better posture.  Weakness in the abdominal muscles can result in muscles in the lower back, stomach and even hips becoming inefficient at keeping your body upright as we age.  We begin to stoop forward since these muscles are not as taunt and strong as they should be which planks can help reverse that. 

To improve balance, side planks are particularly beneficial as you need those oblique muscles to give you better stability making you more surefooted.

6.  You will lower your risk of injury

One important goal in any fitness program is to lower your risk of injuring yourself.  When planks are performed, they offset some of the natural aging decline in elasticity of the muscles, tendons, and ligaments.  Many of us sit at a desk all day which does nothing to keep those muscles supple and in shape.

Planks can expand and stretch the muscles around the shoulder blades, hamstrings, collarbone, lower back and even the arches of the feet and toes.  This prevents tightening up of those muscles which can make it more likely for you to injure yourself if you fall.