A step-by-step guide to the best planks for beginners.
You all must have heard about plank exercises, right? A plank is a core strength exercise for the abdominal muscles that involve maintaining a fixed position for as long as possible.
Plank is one of those exercises which can be easily done at the comforts of your home without any additional equipment. However, as easy as it may seem at first, doing it is 100 times more difficult.
But with a proper guide, you can master any art. So, in this article, we will provide you a step-by-step guide to the best planks for beginners.
But first, let us check out the benefits of this exercise.
Health Benefits of Planks
A plank is a simple and very effective exercise. As a beginner, you might find difficulties while holding on to the plank position, but you must know that this exercise has major health benefits. Some of which are as follows:
- Planks help reduce belly fat; One of the major issues we face today is finding effective ways to reduce belly fat. Reducing belly fat particularly is one of the hardest parts of any weight loss program. A plank exercise helps you reduce your belly fat by improving your core strength.
- Planks help improve metabolism; One of the major functions of planks is that it helps boost your metabolism. It looks simple, but it challenges your entire body strength.
- Planks help improve your body’s posture; A plank exercise is all about holding a fixed position that is aligned perpendicular to the ground. This position keeps your back, chest, shoulder, neck, and abs all in one straight line, which ultimately helps you maintain a better posture.
- Planks help gain flexibility; A plank exercise puts pressure over your abdominal muscles and stretches other muscles that help improve your overall flexibility.
- Planks help in your overall fitness level; Plank is an isometric core exercise. Isometric exercise is one of those exercises which involves the static contraction of particular muscles. There is no noticeable change in length of the muscle during such exercises, but it puts a constant tension over your muscles, which helps build great strength.
- Planks also help build mental strength; While doing a plank, a good amount of concentration is needed to hold this position. Because maintaining the accurate position, pushing through the burn of your core muscles needs you to be very focused.
Now that you know the benefits of doing a plank let us learn how to do one.
How to Do Planks for Beginners
We will tell you the step-by-step process of how to do planks for beginners. So, let us get started.
Doing a plank is mostly like doing a pushup or press-up but without any movement of your arms. And remember, alignment is the key to a successful plank.
Planks for beginners or those with minor shoulder problems can begin placing their forearms and elbows on the floor. It can also be done in another way: locking out your arms and elbows underneath your shoulder.
- First, get an exercise mat. Start with a thinner soft mat, as a thicker mat might make it difficult for you to hold your position as a beginner.
- Next, lie down on your front, flat on the floor with your hands positioned directly beneath your shoulders. This is your starting position.
3. Then, try to keep both of your legs together and go up onto your toes.
4. After that, try squeezing your glutes and abs to maintain a flat back. Your head and neck must all be in line with your back.
5. Level your hips to the line of your spine. Keep checking your posture, and do not lift your hips. Everything should be in one straight line.
After this, your only point of contact with the ground must be with your elbow and forearm, toes, and fists.
6. Maintain this position for the duration of your set.
This is the most basic form of a plank, also known as a forearm plank or standard plank.
Things To Remember:
Here are a few things that you need to keep in check while doing a plank. Because maintaining an accurate posture is very important. Otherwise, it might lead to various complications.
- Keep a constant check on your position: As you continue with your plank, it is very likely that you start slipping from your form. So, if you start to slip, move back into your position immediately. Do not raise or drop your hips.
- Tense your abs: To engage your core muscles correctly and maximize your strength, you must tense your abdominal muscles as much as possible while holding on to the position.
- Engage your glutes as well: Commonly referred to as the hips or buts, glutes are the strongest and longest muscles in your body. And planks are a great way to lengthen and tense your glutes. So, try to engage as many muscles as possible to build more strength.
- Properly time your plank: It is important to time your plank to manage to maintain the correct position.
Duration of Planks For Beginners
Now let us check out how long should plank for beginners be. The best thing about plank is that you can do it anywhere and anytime, but how many planks for beginners are enough to get the desired result?
Planks are not very stressful exercises so that you can do planks regularly. However, planks for beginners depend on what your goals are. If you want to build core strength, you can do planks quite often.
Planks for beginners must be timed properly, too, because it requires a lot of strength. For starters, you can begin with a set of 3-4 planks, each for 30 seconds. That is a standard plank duration.
As you get stronger, you can increase your time duration gradually (from 30 seconds to 60 to 90). With that, you can also increase your number of sets.
Do not push yourself too much because if you plank too much in your early stages, your muscles might start to feel tight and sore.
Variations of Planks For Beginners
As soon as you can hold the basic plank position for at least a minute, you can move on to other plank variations. There are a variety of plank positions to try, and in this article, we will introduce the three best positions of planks for beginners to try.
I. Side Plank
After a basic plank, you can directly shift to a side plank. Side planks are great exercises for strengthening your oblique abdominal muscles. These muscles do not get worked during other abs exercises.
- You can start by lying on your right side with your legs long extended and stacked from hip to feet.
- Tighten your abdominal muscles, drawing your navel towards your spine.
- Slowly lift your knees and hips while exhaling. Your trunk should be in a straight line, without any bending.
- Hold the position for about 40-60 seconds. Change sides and repeat.
II. High Plank
High planks are great to strengthen your spine and flatten the belly.
- Begin with your basic plank position.
- Place your hands underneath your shoulders, a little wider than usual.
- Press up to the top of a push-up
- Straighten your thighs and stretch your heels back.
- Squeeze your hips and tighten your belly. Hold the position.
III. Reach Plank
After trying the above two variations, you can go for reach plank if you want strong shoulders.
- Begin with the basic plank position on your elbows.
- Lift one arm forward. It has to be parallel to the ground.
- Hold the position for about 40 seconds.
- Return your arm back to the ground, and reach forward again with your other arm.
- Keep alternating back and forth for your set time.
IV. One Arm Plank
One-arm planks are quite challenging, as it puts your torso off balance. This exercise forces your core to its maximum.
Single-arm plank or one-arm plank is quite similar to plank reaches.
- Begin with a push-up position, with your hands underneath your shoulders.
- Extend your legs directly behind, a little wider.
- Squeeze your glutes and thighs.
- Lift one arm off the ground, and bring it right next to your hip.
- Hold on to the position while pressing onto the ground with your other arm.
- Switch arms and repeat.
So these are the top variations of planks for beginners. There are more such as elbow plank, leg raise plank, and so on. You can check another article on plank variations.
Planks are amazing exercises for beginners to start building core strength. With the proper form, you will begin to see the desired results and changes in your body.
If you are willing to do planks regularly, you can always go for the 30 days plank challenge. Taking it up as a challenge might help you stay more focused and dedicated.
Just remember that a good form is much more important than how long you are holding your position while doing a plank. Because doing planks incorrectly can cause harm to your muscles.
I hope this guide on planks for beginners helps you get started. So, build your core strength and tighten those muscles you always wanted.
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