How often should you do planks?
Why planks? And how often should you do them?
Unlike abdominal crunches, planks don’t force you to flex your spine. That makes them a safer exercise for your neck and back. Plus, planks work all the muscles in your core, unlike abdominal crunches, which mainly work the vanity muscles, like the rectus abdominis, the pair of muscles that give your abs a six-pack definition.
Planks are an important exercise for a variety of reasons. First, they help improve posture by strengthening deep abdominal muscles, like the transverse abdominis, a muscle that helps stabilize your midsection and support your back and pelvis during movement. Plus, planks strengthen all the muscles in your core in a balanced manner.
Second, planks help improve your balance and stability. Third, planks help prevent back pain by strengthening the muscles around your spine that are so important for spine health. By holding the body in a plank position, the muscles surrounding your spine are forced to work hard to keep your body stable. This strengthens the muscles and helps to prevent injuries.
How Often Should You Plank?
The consensus is you shouldn’t strength train the same muscle group within a 48-hour period. So, if you squat using weights on Wednesday, you wouldn’t repeat the exercise until at least Friday. But the same rules don’t apply to planks. Planks are an isometric exercise where your muscles contract but don’t change length. Holding a plank position engages your core muscles, making them work hard to keep you stable. You aren’t contracting your core muscles against heavy resistance but only stabilizing them against gravity.
Because you’re not breaking down a lot of muscle fibers with planks, you can do them every day. Some people even do them several times a day and use them to take a break from sitting. Getting into a plank position and tightening your abs isometrically is beneficial for body alignment. It’s easy to relax too much and let your body slouch when you sit in a chair too long. Planks are a way to reset your posture.
Planks Are a Functional Exercise
Planks are an effective functional exercise too. Beyond building strength and endurance in your core, this isometric exercise helps improve core stability, which can lower your risk of injury when you train. Planking also improves balance. The most effective planks for improving balance are variations where your body is in an unstable position.
The single-leg plank is a great exercise for improving balance and coordination. To perform this exercise, start in a standard plank position with your hands and feet on the ground. Then, raise one leg off the ground and hold for 30-60 seconds. Be sure to keep your core engaged the entire time and your body in a straight line. The side plank is another plank variation that helps improve balance.
So, you can do exercises to work on balance and stability throughout the day if you desire. Some people find planks to be relaxing and a way to release tension and stress. So next time you’re feeling stressed or sluggish at work, take a break and do a few planks.
For some great variations and ideas, check out these workouts on avwellness.com
Abs & Back
Butts & Gutts
5 minute Abs