The Plank - Get Toned Muscles in Just Minutes

Basic and side plank, ideal for strengthening several muscle groups

By on 19 Jan 2009, 11:45 GMT
While most of us might live under the impression that it’s just the abdominal muscles that need working out, our not so healthy lifestyles and eating habits never cease to prove us wrong. If you too fall in this category, learn that there is one simple exercise, with two very popular variations, that can help us get a toned body in just minutes, experts say.

The basic plank, as simple as it may seem, works not only the abdominal muscles, but also those of our thighs and buttock. Thus, we get not only a flat tummy, but also shapely legs and a firm posterior, with a simple exercise that we can do in the comfort of our home, without requiring any special equipment whatsoever.

First things first, experts say we need to have shoes on to do this. We start by lying on the ground on our elbows and knees, slowly straightening our legs, while paying attention not to arch the back or stick out the posterior. The entire weight of the body is supported by the elbows and the balls of the feet, the feet being thigh-distance apart, as the muscles of the body become tense. We must hold the position for about 45 seconds, then return to the initial position for them to relax. The time we hold the plank will be increased as our body gets stronger.

The side plank works all abdominal muscles, and not just the superficial ones as crunches and sit-ups do. The principle behind it is similar to the one for the basic plank, only that this one will have us on one side, propped in the elbow. The feet should rest one on top of the other, while the free arm can be placed either on the hip or at the nape of the neck. We must pay attention that the shoulder of the arm we’re placing all our weight on does not roll forward or backward, so that our body forms a perfect triangle with the floor. This position must be held for as long as possible, and then we have to switch to the other side and repeat.    

Doing the plank has been proved to be extremely efficient in toning the above-mentioned muscles, which, in turn, aids in correcting posture and translates into better support for the spine. However, this is an exercise not recommended to those who have lower back problems, so if you know you’re one of them, it’s best if you look for other exercises to tone your muscles.

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The basic plank, an easy exercise that tones several muscle groups
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   The basic plank, an easy exercise that tones several muscle groups