The plank is an awesome exercise. Not only does it strengthen your abs, but also the core stabilizer muscles in the trunk and legs. Even your arms are engaged in this fairly simple exercise! There are numerous variations, such as lifting one leg or one arm (or both), or starting from a push up position (as pictured). The plank is an isometric exercise that helps build endurance throughout your core – including the rectus abdominus, obliques, lower back and stabilizing muscles. Since it is an effective but simple exercise, my friend Karrie Ryan, who is a personal trainer, loves to tell clients that the plank is one of her favorites for when time is limited and you need a “bang for your buck”. I don’t do crunches too much (see 9 Kid Fitness post called Ladies Beware of Crunches), and so the plank is my standard ab exercise…but it is truly so much more! No matter what you are training for, or if you are simply trying to improve your fitness, the plank should be a part of your workout reperatoire!
We have all heard about the core, but recently I have been learning about core stabilizing muscles. These are basically the muscles that are the foundation of our movements…the ones that not only keep us balanced, but also keep us moving. Core stability means using the muscles of the trunk to support the spine and body during activity. The trunk muscles include those in the abdomen and back, around the neck and shoulder blades, and around the pelvis, hips, groin, and buttocks. Strengthening your trunk gives greater stability and power to the whole body for it’s activities. Core stabilization helps improve posture, balance, strength, and coordinated movement, and helps protect the body from injury. One of the exciting things for me to think about in terms of fitness is how connected all the parts of our bodies are, and how crucial this is to all of our movements. [Read more…]