What Muscles Do Planks Work?

Ready for the plank challenge? Here’s what muscles you are exercising.

  • Rectus abdominis. Rectus abdominis may sound like some kind of transformer, but it’s actually the top layer of your abs. This is where the classic “six-pack” muscles come from.
  • Transverse abdomen. Sometimes called the corset muscle, this is a deep, inner layer of your abdominal muscles. It helps tone your waistline and support your spine.
  • Slopes. Planks will also make your inner and outer bevels burn. These are the muscles that run on either side of your abs, from your hips to your rib cage. These help with the flexibility of the upper body and hip and back stability.
  • Serratus anterior. Planks Def won’t let you slack off on those powerful, shoulder-stabilizing muscles.
  • Buttocks. Great booty isn’t just for booty shorts. Strong glutes also strengthen and stabilize your hips, improving your posture and balance.

Doing planks on alignment also works a variety of muscles such as hamstrings, quadriceps, deltoids, pecs, biceps, triceps, and a whole lot of back muscles.

Get ready for even more benefits of planking.

1. Develop a killer core

Your core stabilizes your body. It is at the center (literally and figuratively) of many of the activities you do on a daily basis. Whether you’re picking up shopping bags or playing pickle ball, your core is there for you.

Planking is especially helpful for building core strength and muscle endurance. (That’s your muscles’ ability to hold your workout for a period of time.) According to a small study of college athletes in 2019, researchers found that 8 weeks of core training increased static balance, core endurance, and running performance improved.

2. Reduces the risk of injury

According to researchers, the core muscles help stabilize your body and protect your spine from excessive force. Whether you’re playing golf or trying to move your living room furniture around, every now and then planking can protect you from pain, strain, or injury on the street.

Planks are also gentler on your back, neck, and spine than other core exercises like sit-ups and crunches.

3. Reduces back pain

If you have back or neck pain, doing planks can help. (Just ask your doctor first.) By strengthening your core, you can increase the stability of the spine and relieve tension.

Strong abs support your lumbar spine (also known as your lower back), which improves your back stability and pelvic movement. According to a 2016 study, 3 months of core strengthening exercises, including planks, “significantly” reduced participants’ lower back pain.

If you get a few boards right, you will get better results than a lot of sloppy ones. It also ensures that you do not experience any unnecessary pain, strain, or injury. Here’s how to do the classic forearm plank.

  1. Lie on your stomach with your elbows and forearms by your side. Your elbows and shoulders should be in one line.
  2. Slowly lift your torso off the floor by pushing through your forearms and toes. Squeeze your core together as you stand up and maintain a neutral spine and neck. Keep your pelvis pulled in.
  3. Hold this position for 30 seconds to a minute, or as long as you can maintain the A + shape.
  4. Repeat 3 times or more.

Pro tips:

  • If your butt wants to lift too much, move your pelvis forward.
  • Make it harder for yourself by stretching your arms for a plank with straight arms.

There are many variations of the classic plank that can make things more exciting and appeal to different muscles. Here are three to try:

Side plank

It’s time to work it side to side. The side plank isolates and challenges your slopes even further.

How it goes:

  1. Lie on your side with your elbow under your shoulder, your forearm flat.
  2. Keep your knees on the floor. Stack your legs and lift your hips off the floor.
  3. Put your hand on your hip.
  4. Squeeze your glutes together for 30 to 60 seconds.

Professional type:

  • Make it harder for yourself by stacking your feet instead of your knees.
  • Ready for a bigger balance challenge? Raise your hand to the sky

Walking board

Now is really the time to step over the plank. This requires an extra kick from your core as well as your upper and lower body, including your deltas, glutes, quads, hams, and calves.

How it goes:

  1. Stand on all fours in a full plank position (also known as a straight arm plank): hands under shoulders, arms fully extended.
  2. Squeeze your glutes and abs as you move your right hand and foot to the right.
  3. Move to the side by bringing your left hand and foot to the center and return to the plank position.
  4. Keep going. Shoot about 5 steps left and 5 right and work your way up when you’re more comfortable. (Space allowed!) Walk for 30 seconds to a minute.

Professional type:

  • More speed doesn’t bring you any more strength points here. Strive for slow and controlled movements. Really focus on the muscles that you are training.

Plank with alternating knees to elbows

If you are ready for your core to scream, this might be for you. This one will really define your obliques and further challenge all muscles in the classic pose.

How it goes:

  1. Stand on all fours in a full plank position (also known as a straight arm plank): hands under shoulders, arms fully extended.
  2. Lift your leg and pull your knee toward the opposite shoulder.
  3. Push your knee back to begin the plank pose. Keep your abs and glutes tight so your butt does not lift.
  4. Repeat on both sides for 30 to 60 seconds for 3 sets.

Planks are a powerful exercise that increases core strength and works a number of other muscles, including shoulder stabilizers and buttocks. Doing them regularly can reduce your risk of injury and even relieve back pain.

Are you bored of the traditional plank position? There are tons of plank variations for you to try. If you are unsure about the correct form, contact a personal trainer for personal advice.

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