To remain fit and strong, you do not need to be regular at some gym. And this does not mean anything like not being able to afford gym subscription fees or time management issues.
It is just that some people prefer doing workouts in the comfort of their home.
But deciding on doing a workout at home does not also have to include buying some expensive gym equipment like a treadmill, cardio or magnetic bike or even dumbbells, etc.
Aside from being expensive and requiring regular maintenance, buying gym equipment for home also requires a properly designated floor space too. And this is not possible if you live in a studio or a small condo apartment or on sharing basis.
So what should you do under such circumstances? Our simple answer is to find just enough space where you can spread a yoga mat on the floor and then easily stretch out your entire body on top of it.
Shocked! Don’t be. Because this is the point where we introduce our readers with something called as ‘Planking or Plank Workout/Training/Exercise’.
So what is this Planking, Plank Workout or Training or Exercise and what it is really all about?
Whether it is gym or gym equipment, planking is the next best alternative that you can have for a complete workout session.
In simple words, it is the natural remedy and answer to all your worries regarding not being able to go to a gym while keeping up with your physical and mental fitness goals.
Actually, planking or plank workout is the most effective form of a body weight exercise.
Body weight exercises, as the name suggests, are workouts that require nothing but your own body to perform. By lifting your body above the ground in different forms while also trying to balance its weight, planking can benefit your body in many ways.
Are all body weight exercises same as planking or is there some variation?
Though the basic requirements of all body weight exercises are same, they do have some variations.
In the case of the planking type of the body weight workout, its isometric mode makes it different from other forms of body weight exercises.
Due to this reason, you cannot perform reps in the usual manner during planking exercises as you would in other body weight exercises.
Rather, planking workouts are performed in sets, each preferably of 20-30 seconds, depending on how long you can hold.
After holding a certain position or posture for this much time, you return at ease or back to the resting position. The same cycle continues until you have completed your desired number of sets.
As you become more familiar with holding certain postures, extend the holding time. You can also try some new planking postures and positions to add strength to more parts of your body.
Difference between workout at a gym and planking at home
Planking is very much similar to any other gym workout which solely depends on using any of its simple or complex equipment.
Just like you stretch your body and exert pressure using equipment and weights in a gym workout session, you do similar things in planking as well.
The main difference here is only from a materialistic approach.
Instead of some technical equipment there, here you form plank postures and positions to exert pressure and stretch your body muscles.
As for the weights, you have your entire body to lift up and balance.
How to do a plank or types of planking exercises?
There are several different ways to perform a planking workout. While all these ways of planking are slightly different and reward in different ways, they all rely on using your body and its weight only.
The difference between different forms of planking has only to deal with using parts of your body to either lie or balance its weight on according to the state of the plank posture and position.
Here in this section of the article, we intend to briefly make you understand how you can easily perform the different planking exercises.
So let’s start.
1. Standard plank position
The steps include:
- Make a push up like position by placing your hand palms directly on the floor. Your hands should resemble like a straight pillar supporting the upper part of your body.
- Combine glutes and touch your toes onto the ground.
- From the top of the back or upward facing side of your head till your feet, maintain a straight line posture.
- Hold the position for maximum 30 seconds now, then relax and continue with the cycle. As you progress further, increase your holding time.
2. Forearm plank posture
This plank position is much similar to the standard planking workout posture. All the steps mentioned in the previous posture are same except that instead of using your hand palm, you now rest your upper body area on your forearms.
3. Knee plank position
The upper part of your body again lies on your hand palm, forming like two supporting pillars.
For the lower part of your body, your knees lie on the ground.
4. One side plank posture
The front or upper part of your body lies on the support of your hand palm forming as one straight pillar.
One leg lies on top of the other and the entire instead of facing upward or downward, faces sidewise.
The performance cycle includes using one hand for a single holding position and then using the other hand for the second holding posture and so on.
5. Single leg plank position
Everything remains same as in the forearm plank posture.
The only difference here in this is that you rest the toes of one leg over the other.
Performance includes changing the resting leg each time for the recurring holding position.
6. Medicine ball plank posture
Each and every posture step as in the case of standard plank posture applies.
The main difference exists in the way of how you support the front or upper part of your body.
Instead of coming in direct contact with the floor surface, hold a medicine ball. This means resting your hands in the form of holding the medicine ball placed on the floor.
Common mistakes that most people make and which should be avoided during a planking workout
1. Not letting the body maintain a straight line
Most people raise their butt and back side too much as if to form an animal like posture which is completely wrong.
In order to equally feel and resist the planking workout stress, keep your body straight from the top of your head to the top of your feet.
2. Use some support
If you are unsure whether you are forming a straight posture or not, ask some friend to join in the practice.
Your friend should place a light weight stick on the top or upward facing side of your body.
The stick should remain in steady and smooth contact with your body starting from the head to your feet.
Avoid using any heavy weight stick for this purpose as it can interfere with your performance. For example, you focus might shift towards balancing the stick rather than focusing on your body posture.
3. Lowering or dropping your head
As already mentioned, the straight line begins from the top of the back of your head. So avoid lowering or dropping it down.
4. Waiting for the relax position to exhale
Many physical workouts require to hold your breath before returning to the relax mode.
In planking workouts, this does not apply. Keep taking regular breaths and do not stop after inhaling or exhaling.
On the other hand, taking deep breaths is okay and you might want to do this instead of holding your breath altogether.
5. Relying too much on the timer
The main purpose of any physical exercise is to relax and strengthen you both physically and mentally.
It also serves as a way to rid your mind of any stress and unimportant thoughts. But many people during workouts that involve working according to proper time frames are more focused on the ringing of their stopwatch rather than the exercise itself.
This clearly is letting your brain intentionally sway away with unwanted thoughts.
So if you are confident that you won’t lose attention, than perhaps you should use a timer or a stopwatch. But if you aren’t sure about yourself or have lose concentration levels, try using other methods to count the time frames.
Top and amazing benefits of plank exercises
We know that you won’t be fully convinced to start a daily planking routine if we didn’t shared some of the top and amazing plank or planking workout benefits here in this article.
So here are some of the most amazing planking workout benefits that anyone doing planks every day is rewarded with.
1. More muscles get activated
Planks are more effective than crunches. And the reason is that unlike other forms of exercises, planks work out your entire body.
They activate more muscles in your body than any other exercise.
2. Your body posture and shape becomes better
You might have seen people with not straight and irregularly shaped figures. To avoid any such experience or overcome this issue, planks can be a great workout in this regard.
3. Increases your flexibility
As the planking exercise involves forming different shapes, positions and postures, your body becomes more convenient in going through any difficult or stressful posture if needed.
In other words, your body becomes more flexible.
4. Planking workouts can be easily modified
As you become well versed in certain types of plank postures and positions and also their holding time, you can modify your existing levels and patterns.
5. Reduces the risk of having a back and spinal column injury
Aside from building muscles and putting your body through stress and pressure, planks also make you learn when to stop to avoid any situation while working out a planks exercise or otherwise.
6. Your concentration levels increase
Not being able to see but knowing that you have to keep your body in a straight line position will help you increase your concentration levels with a planking workout routine.
7. Enhances your ability to balance
Planking exercises also help you increase your ability to maintain your body balance for longer period of time. This helps greatly especially during any other physical sports and activities.
8. Increases your overall metabolism
Planking also helps in burning more calories which means it boosts your body’s overall metabolism levels.
Now that you are very well aware of the numerous benefits of following a daily plank or planking workout routine, why not start right away.
However, we would highly recommend if you could also watch some videos on the internet for a better and professionally guided experience.
Online videos do not merely offer practical exposures in the form of quick lessons only as not all the videos will be the same.
You will find some videos to be the best coach and instructor that you will ever find.
This is because many online workout videos comprise of lengthy and complete workout sessions, good enough to replicate any real plank training class.