Our “core” is more than just our abs. The core is an interconnected group of back, hip, pelvic, glute, abdominal, and diaphragm muscles. A strong core can increase balance and stability, support good posture, help prevent back pain and make everyday movement easier. If you are looking for an effective exercise to strengthen your core muscles, look no further than the plank. A plank is a simple, effective bodyweight exercise that requires no equipment and can be performed just about anywhere.

To do a plank properly, follow these simple steps:

● Get down on the ground. Stack your elbows directly beneath your shoulders and extend your legs. Rest your weight on your elbows and your toes.
● Squeeze your glutes and core to create full-body tension. Think about pulling your belly button into your spine.
● Contract your low back, lats, and rhomboids. Your back should form a straight line; don’t let your pelvis dip down or your butt to rise up.
● Face your gaze face down, which keeps your neck in a neutral position. It is important to maintain proper form.

For a beginner, holding a plank for 10-30 seconds is a great start. As core strength increases, extend the amount of time you hold the plank position. Build up to three sets of 30 seconds, and then increase the time as the weeks go by until you reach one minute for three sets. You may also want to experiment with other variations, such as the side plank, single leg plank, plank on knees.

Planks work the core and muscles in the arms and legs. Planks are also great for posture and can help improve balance. Note of caution, if one suffers from an injury or had undergone surgery, this pose should be avoided. It’s best to check with your medical provider.

Here’s a fun fact….
The Guinness Book of World Records confirms that on May 20, 2023, Josef Šálek from the Czech Republic maintained a strict abdominal plank position for 9 hours, 38 minutes, and 47 seconds.

photo credit: bigstockphoto.com/New Africa

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