Want to improve your fitness? This functional move will help

Reap all the strengthening benefits of planks with this four-week challenge. 

Planks are a sneaky exercise; they don’t look like much, but try to hold one for more than 60 seconds and you’ll be floored at how challenging they can be. That’sprobably why the five-minute plank challenge went viral during lockdown, with videos of friends attempting to hold the press-up position undoubtedly taking over your Instagram feed at one point or another.

Of course, there are more benefits to planks than just looking strong. “Planks are a great move for building functional and endurance strength in your core,” says Dottie Fildes, a personal trainer from the Strong Women Training Club. 

What is a plank?

The plank is a classic core exercise. Usually performed on the floor, you hold your body weight up through your limbs – on your hands or elbows and feet or knees. Here are a few examples of plank variations: 

All the benefits of planks

Planks may feel brutal if they’re included at the end of a challenging workout, but whether you do them alongside other exercises or alone, there are so many benefits to performing a plank.

Strengthening your entire core

“The core has multiple layers,” explains Fildes. “There is the internal core, the side muscles called the obliques and your rectus abdominals, which are the top layer.” All of these muscles work together for stable movement.

Unlike many other ab exercises, like crunches, the plank works each of these muscles. And it doesn’t stop there: you’ll also be using your chest, shoulders and glutes to hold yourself in the move. 

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Improving performance

Building strength in these areas goes a long way in the rest of your training. “Your core is crucial for your technique and form in exercises like deadlifts and squats. If you get your plank strong, you may find your lifts improve as a by-product,” says Fildes.

Reducing pain

We regularly talk about the benefits of exercise for pain relief, and building a strong core is crucial to supporting your spine and pelvis to reduce back pain. “How you hold yourself is a result of your core strength, so building a strong plank improves your posture while sitting or standing,” adds Fildes. 

Try this four-week plank challenge

If you’re sold on the thought of adding planks to your workout schedule, then sign up to the Strong Women Training Club’s plank challenge. Trainer Emma Obayuvana will be leading a four-week plank challenge, starting now, designed to strengthen your deep core.

This holistic series will involve the diaphragm, pelvic floor, transverse abs and multifidus muscles. Suitable for all levels, the sessions will last 20 minutes and a new class will be released every Wednesday morning. By the end of it, you might be able to hold a plank so good you’ll be the one posting it on Instagram. 

Join the Strong Women Training Club today if you want to feel stronger, more mobile and less injury-prone – especially if you’re a runner, yogi or just starting out on your strength-training journey.

Images: Pexels

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