When it comes to working the core and abdominal muscles, almost everyone, whether you are fitness orientated or not, is aware of the simple sit-up technique. This is a suitable exercise and will cause muscle activation in the abdominal region, however, like all muscles, they need to be constantly shocked through alternative exercises in order to continue to develop. So what alternative exercises are available to you?
There are three types of movements available to target your abdominal muscles and research suggests that all of these should be utilised within an abdominal workout. They are;
- Flexion and extension: This would include exercises such as the basic sit-up.
- Rotations: This involves a twist element such as medicine ball twists.
- Static contractions: This would include exercises such as ‘The Plank’.
Without trying to generalise, it is common to see individuals carrying out both flexion, extension and rotation exercises within a gym as part of their abdominal workout, but much less so with regards to the performance of static contractions. Consequently, this article aims to consider one of the most beneficial static contraction exercises available to you; The Plank.
To those of you that are unfamiliar with this particular exercise, the name can be slightly off putting and creates a vision of a pirate related ritual. This is not the case and what’s more, the exercise requires no specialist equipment, so it can be performed almost anywhere. It’s also a great exercise for enhancing endurance in both the abdominal and lower back region, as well as those stabiliser muscles. So let’s have a look at what’s required of you;
Lying face down on the floor, place both forearms and elbows under your shoulder region. Place your legs together with the front of your feet resting on the floor. This is your resting position. From here, raise your torso upwards by straightening your body. This should place your body into a relatively straight line which you should then hold in position. Do not allow your torso to sag at all and drop in the centre. This position should then be maintained for a period of time. If you are attempting this exercise for the first time then look to complete 10 seconds initially before returning to the resting position. This is one repetition.
Increasing The Intensity
For those of you that require an additional challenge, the difficulty of this exercise can be enhanced by holding the plank position for up to a minute(+) or performing the exercise on to an unstable surface such as a wobble board or vibration plate machine. If this equipment is not available then the stability element can be further enhanced by raising one arm or one leg, or even both!
So there you have it, the plank exercise in a nutshell. If you are not already doing so, then next time you complete your abdominal workout remember to include the three movement types of flexion and extension, rotations and static contractions. If this particular exercise is encapsulated within a thorough abdominal workout and healthy lifestyle plan, then it shouldn’t be long until you start noticing substantial results.