Why you should be planking, every day!
The plank: one of the most under appreciated, simple, yet challenging and effective, accessible exercises you can do. You can literally plank, anywhere. Most people scoff at the idea of holding a :60 plank. “I can squat 300lbs, why would I care about a plank?”
Well, there are many reasons, but we’ll start with our top 2 (pretty convincing) reasons to up your plank game!
WRIST STRENGTH & MOBILITY • most of our lifestyle(s) have us in a wrist position that is constantly flexed (texting, writing, typing, driving, gaming, etc). The muscles on the underside of our wrists are tight and overused, and muscles we use to extend our wrists are weak. If you ever wonder why holding weight overhead, bench pressing, pushups, etc are challenging, it’s because you need to train your wrists- both muscles and joints. The ankles are used to bear weight most of the time, because they do it. The hands and feet are similar, and need training. “Time under tension” goes a long way with bodyweight movements. Simply, do them more often. Incorporate planks into your daily routine for better wrist strength and mobility!
MIDLINE STAMINA & STABILITY • here’s a thought, if you can't simply hold a plank for :30-:60, while breathing, and maintaining stability and tension, what makes you think doing :30 of front squats, or having a barbell overhead or on your back for that amount of time, under heavier loads or for volume, will be safe or manageable, without compromising movement quality via stealing from another area of the body to make up for lack of core and wrist strength? There are countless ways to make planks more or less challenging, ways to change the “loading” of the positions, and ways to change focus of the movement. You can use planks to strengthen shoulder rotation, glute activation, scapula stability, and more… but the “main mover” in all planks is the space between your shoulders and your hips; the ability to create tension and stability throughout the entire midline, by pressing against the floor and lengthening from head to heels, away from the floor. Use planks to increase core stamina and stability, and watch everything else get better!
A few plank variations to play with:
High plank: strengthen straight arm pressing and wrists.
Forearm plank: strengthen lats and obliques, better your front rack position.
Side planks: strengthen single arm pressing, posterior deltoids, lateral abdominal muscles and outer hips and glutes.
And many, many more!