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HomeFITNESSPlank your way to a stronger core this New Year

Plank your way to a stronger core this New Year

Danae van den Berg, an exercise specialist at the Better Body Group gets us planking during January.

Picture this achingly familiar situation: you’re staring hopelessly at the timer, willing 
the seconds to pass quicker, and asking yourself, ’how long do I really need to hold this plank?’
 
While the world record currently sits at 9 hours, 38 minutes and 47 seconds, that’s not necessarily what you need to aim for to achieve the results you want. 
 
Firstly, why is a strong core so important? Simply, it’s vital for a healthy, high functioning life! Sufficient core strength means having balance, stability, better movement patterns and suffering with less pain. Your core keeps you stable in your deadlifts, during your runs and even while carrying your groceries. 
 
So why plank over any other go-to core killer? A plank is a full body isometric exercise, making you use your deeper stabilising muscles to hold the position. 
 
I would compare it to a compound exercise – your full body movements like squats or deadlifts, while crunches will be classified as an accessory exercise, like a tricep extension.
 
I’m not trying to dissuade you from doing your crunches; if you love them, do them! 
 
I just mean to say that planking will do more efficient and beneficial work in much less time. 
 
My top planking tips:
• Keep your hands shoulder-width apart and directly under your shoulders.
• Pretend that there’s a glass of water on your back. If your back is crooked then the glass will tip!
• Think about pushing your torso away from the floor, don’t let your chest or hips sink.
• Squeeze everything!
 
Now the million dollar question; how long should you hold it? The easy answer, hold it anywhere from 10 seconds to a minute, depending on your form! If you’re unable to stay in that strong position, start with 10 second holds. There’s absolutely no point holding for a longer period of time if your form isn’t correct. And while holding for 60 seconds is a great goal, you can work just as hard doing a 10 second hold, followed by a 10 second rest and then repeating that for 6 or so rounds. 
 
What are the ways to make your plank harder? Besides just holding for a longer period of time, but who needs that? 
• Put a weight on your back, a 5kg plate should do the job.
• Positioning your feet close together means you’ll have to work harder to remain stable.
• Try a variation! When in doubt, YouTube is always full of great tutorials for movements like a plank drag, shoulder taps or sliding planks. 
 
Still not sure how to tackle it on your own? Here at the Better Body Group we have a team of friendly experts on hand to help you with your training! Give us a call on 01732 451979 to book in a free 30-minute consultation. 
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