Nov 22, 2016
Why suddenly plank is the new wonder exercise?
Recently most of the Bollywood female actors’ women trainers and sportswomen
were planking in their social feeds. From wrestler Saakshi Malik to Jacqueline
Fernandes, Aditi Rao Hydari and Kalki Koechlin, they were urging women to
plank. All this for a #plankchallenge by a fitness company that was aiming for a
(and got the) Guinness Record for the largest group of women holding a plank for
a minute. They were peddling planks because nothing in life is free, except
planks! “It has to be the most easy to-do exercise – requires no equipment, not
even a mat. You can do it anywhere, anytime,” says Mumbai-based celebrity
trainer Pankaj Chandila.
Plank for your core
The plank-perfect women did it in a garden in Mumbai, with no mats, no
specialised equipment. Yes, it’s just that easy. Yoga fans, crossfitters and even
gym-goers can sing paeans to the plank. It’s an age-old exercise that’s gained
new popularity thanks to the resurgence of body-weight exercises. “No other
exercise — neither ab crunches nor sit-ups or leg raises — activates your core
like the plank,” explains Chandila. A one-minute plank is enough to activate the
entire core – from the superficial six-pack to the deepest parts of the core along
with the whole spine.
Ever since functional fitness has become the buzzword, the core has become the
fitness focus. Functional movements are highly dependent on this part of the
body, and lack of core muscular development can result in injuries. The plank is
an isometric (stable) contraction that engages all the muscles.
Can I plank, please?
Unlike other exercises that come with caveats and rules, the plank can be done
by almost anyone. However, people with lower back issues should take it easy by
doing it with knees on the ground, says Chandila. According to the American
College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) guidelines, the test for a person’s core is if
he/she can hold a plank for a minute. As a beginner, start with a 20-second hold
and build up to a minute-hold. The ideal daily plank hold will be 2-2.5 minutes.
Once you achieve the perfect plank, try the variations – from elbow planks (the
most common one) to high planks to side planks and plank raises – the plank is
the more than just one exercise. In fact, a 2-hour workout can be planned around
the plank. It helps in weight loss and toning too. All this for a minute out of your
day, sounds like a plank…er plan to us.
How to plank
- Start with a stable surface, no uneven ground. You don’t need a mat but make
sure your foot isn’t sliding.
- Place your elbows down right under your shoulder and they should be shoulder-
- The centre of gravity is under the belly and the hips are tight. Do not contract
your shoulder muscles.
- Neck has to be in line with the spine. Don’t arch the back or tilt your weight to
your stronger side, a common practice.