Planks are a great recovery exercise. It helps you building strength in your core, upper and lower body. It works almost every main muscle, making it good full body work out.
There are many variations of the plank, focusing on working different parts of body, from hamstrings to forearms - depending on which one you try.
Here are some of my top planking tips:
1. Positioning: In the plank position, keep your feet a good distance apart and your hands slightly wider but directly under your shoulders.
Make sure to spread your fingers. This will help keep your balance. The bigger the base you create on the floor, the more stability you'll have.
As you progress, bring your feet closer together to make more challenging.
2. Heels: Flex those feet and push those heels backwards, away from your body but be careful to not lock your knees.
This will provide a stronger stance and it works your calve muscles at the same time by keeping your lower body engaged.
3. Straight line: Planking is a great exercise to improve posture, but only if it is practiced in the correct way as the muscles you use when you plank are essential for supporting the spine. These are upper body and lower body, including the stomach, hips, lower back and buttocks.
Tighten your body so that if you were looking from the side, it would look like a straight line. Draw your abdomen muscles in and tilt your pelvis inwards. It also helps to squeeze your glutes so that the lower back doesn't drop and take on unnecessary pressure. This will ensure that you're working your whole body and help you to stabilize.
To get your core working, keep your back straight. You should be able to feel your abs engaged. Your head should be looking straight down to the floor. Don't look at your feet or up in front as this will put stress onto your neck. Think of the neck and head as an extension to your back.
4. Shoulders: Draw your shoulders away from your neck and down towards the floor. You want to imagine you are pushing the floor away from you from every part of your body.
This will then engage your back muscles and improve your posture through your upper body.
5. Breathe: When faced with a physical challenge, it's easy to fall into the trap of holding your breath. It's human nature when you're holding a strenuous position.
Relax, breath deeply and slowly which will help you hold the position for a longer period of time.
6. Time: Test yourself. Put a timer/stop watch on and put it out of sight during your first plank.
Remember to breathe, focus or if it helps, distract yourself. Go for as long as you can go, without compromising your form, and then look at the time. You now have your base time.
Each time you plank, add on 5secs/10secs. Before you know it you'll be doubling your time in no time!
SCOTT ASHLEY IS THE NEW HEALTH AND FITNESS EXPERT ON ITV'S GOOD MORNING BRITAIN
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