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Planks are an excellent core workout. You don’t need any expensive gym equipment to do a plank well – all you need is your body weight and a clear floor.

Plank variations are incorporated into many workout regimens, including HIIT workouts, Pilates, functional training, and yoga. Holding a plank for only 30 seconds each day can improve your overall strength and endurance exponentially.

In this article, we’ll explain how planks enhance fitness. We’ll advise on the different types of planks you can incorporate into your workout routine and how they can help you improve endurance.

Why are planks good for you?

Many people misunderstand planks as building core strength. They actually build core endurance, which is the amount of time your core can withstand being contracted. Endurance allows you to repeatedly use a muscle without becoming tired, and so is essential for fitness.

Planks are popular because they work a variety of muscles, including the core, the abdominal muscles, the lats, and the glutes. Many people begin practising plank poses with a forearm plank, because that posture mostly targets the core.

How to do a plank

Be sure to keep your body as straight as possible.

Hold yourself up on your forearms or hands and the balls of your feet. Push your heels back away from you to engage your legs, keep your bum tucked in and your pelvis in line with your spine to maintain good form. Imagine you’re pulling your belly button upward behind your ribs, toward your heart and spine to activate your core muscles. If that’s too hard to imagine, tense your stomach as though you’re protecting it from a punch.

Different types of planks

Different planks target different areas of the body and improve fitness in different ways.

Standard plank

Hold yourself up on your hands and the balls of your feet. Tense that core! Hold the plank for as long as possible, or stick to 30 or 60-second bursts.

Forearm plank

Forearm planks work your core more than any other muscles, so are an excellent way for plank beginners to build core endurance.

Use your forearms and the balls of your feet to hold yourself up. You can tense your fists or press your hands flat into the ground.

Side plank

Side planks work your obliques and arms.

Turn from a standard or forearm plank position to the outer edge of your foot, maintaining your hand or elbow-to-earth connection. Extend your other arm skyward or keep your hand on your hip.

Hold your other foot on top of the foot with its outer edge on the ground. If that’s too difficult, cross your upper leg over and press up off the floor to provide extra support. Keep your hips raised. Remember to swap sides!

Reach plank

Reach planks develop arm strength and core endurance. Hold one hand or elbow in place and extend your other arm in front of you, returning that arm to standard or forearm plank pose between reps. Add light weights if you don’t find standard reach planks challenging. Work both arms for around 30 seconds.

Plank jacks

Keep your upper body in plank posture and move your legs as though you’re doing a star jump. This is an excellent way to incorporate a cardio exercise into strength training and strength training into cardio fitness.

If you're looking to burn fat, check out these 8 exercises to help burn fat

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Last updated: 28 January 2021