The days are over that you need to perform endless crunches to strengthen your core and abdominal muscles. Research has proven that plank exercise is much more effective to accomplish this. However, you must remember that all of the crunches and plank exercises in the world will not help you lose belly fat.
You ask what is the best way to lost belly fat. Well, the only way to lose belly fat is through proper diet and cardio exercise. You must burn those calories which will decrease your overall body fat percentage which will in turn let you reveal that toned tummy. However, to get that toned tummy, you will need the benefits of plank exercise.
I have always hated doing crunches. I don’t know why but crunches are just not fun for me. They are not only ineffective but they can cause spinal column or back injury. To build your abs or core muscles, plank exercise is much more effective. I must admit that I still do crunches on my Bowflex Home Gym. But now that I have discovered plank exercises, I have made them a part of my regular exercise routine.
Always consult your physician before beginning any exercise routine and be sure that the plank exercise is right for you.
Why Strengthen Your Core?
It is very important to have strong core muscles because they wrap around your torso to help you stand upright and keep your body stabilized. These will help you to be strong in your daily activities as well as avoid injuries during your exercise routine.
Why Plank Exercise?
I love plank exercises because they are multitasking moves that will work your abs, your upper and lower back, your arms and all of your other stabilizing muscles. When done correctly, they are very efficient.
When I first started doing plank exercises, it didn’t take but fifteen to twenty seconds for my body to start to shake. This reflected the lack of stabilization and strength I had in my abdominal region. Don’t worry, over time as you continue the plank exercise, you will become stronger and will be able to hold the position longer without shaking.
My Seven Favorite Plank Exercises
- Lie face down on your exercise mat.
- Go up on your toes and rest on your elbows. Position your elbows directly below your shoulders. Your body weight will be on your toes and elbows.
- Make sure your body is in a straight line from your head to your heels. Be sure and keep your body flat and not sagging in the middle. Just holding this position is what works the abs and core muscles.
- It helps to contract your core and glut muscles while in the plank position. Contract your abs to make sure your body does not drop. The plank exercise is an isometric exercise for your core muscles.
- Now hold this position for your designated time. I hold my position for sixty seconds. However, at first I could only hold it for about ten to fifteen seconds. For you in the beginning, it may only be for five to ten seconds and that is ok. It will get better over time.
- Rest for a couple of minutes and do two more sets.
The basic plank exercise works because while you are balancing on your toes and elbows, gravity is pulling on your midsection. Your lower back will try to sag. To hold a straight line with your body, you will have to contract your abdominal muscles. Far better than a crunch.
This exercise is for those who are having trouble with the basic plank. You can do everything the same as the basis plank except you will be balancing on your knees instead of your toes. This will enable you to build enough strength to work up to the basis plank exercise.
This plank exercise is performed on your side resting on one forearm and the side of your lower foot. Again, hold the body straight and keep it from sagging. This plank is great for the obliques. Repeat for both sides.
The side plank was harder for me but after practice I finally mastered it.
After you get some practice and become stronger with the basis plank exercise, you can try this variation. While in the basis plank position, extend one of your arms straight out in front of you. You will now be balanced on your toes and one elbow. Keep that core tight and hold for three seconds. Bring your arm back slowly to the original plank position and then repeat with the other arm.
This is another cool variation. While in the basis plank position, extend one of your legs up and out behind you keeping it straight. You will now be balanced on one toe and both elbows. Keep that core tight and hold for three seconds. Bring your leg back slowly to the original plank position and then repeat with the other leg.
Plank Exercise Using a Bosu or Swiss Ball
For the more advanced and only after you have mastered the basic plank exercise should you try this. Perform the basic plank exercise except with your forearms or toes on a Swiss ball or a bosu ball. This makes your stabilization much harder and will work the core muscles more.
This is just a little easier than the basic plank and will also work the arms and back. With the straight arm plank, you are supporting yourself on your hands and toes instead of your elbows and toes. Hands should be directly below your shoulders. As with all plank exercises, contract those abs. Hold for as long as you can working up to one minute. This will make you stronger for those push-ups that should also be worked into your exercise routine.
Ok, So Plank On Everyone
The plank exercise is definitely a more effective abs and core building exercise. Don’t be discouraged at first if you are having trouble holding the basic plank for even a few seconds. Be persistent and keep trying and with practice you will be up to thirty to sixty seconds in no time. Include the plank exercise into your regular exercise routine and get rid of those spine damaging crunches.