Abdominal planks are, par excellence, one of the exercises we see most often in fitness training. With this type of exercise we activate the core, essential to gain stability and avoid injuries during our workouts.
What do we call core? The word "core" comes from English and means "center" or "core". It refers to abdominal muscles such as: transverse abdominals, obliques, pelvic floor, diaphragm, lower back and hip.
"When your daily activity is sedentary, it is recommended to do core activation exercises for at least, 10 minutes a day" notes Maria Ramos Santos, personal fitness trainer and nutritionist.
In this blog, we will talk about the type of abdominal planks, for whom these exercises are focused, benefits and much more.
What are abdominal planks?Planks are isometric torso exercises. This means exercises in a static position, where the muscles of the area to be worked are activated. They consist of maintaining a posture of stabilization of your abdominal bridge, for a prolonged period of time.
To perform these exercises, first we rest our knees on the floor. In this way, we will achieve a correct position of the back, with pelvic retroversion of the hips. We recommend doing this on a mat to avoid pain and injury. Later, we support our forearms and center our point of support on our feet. We maintain this posture for several seconds, paying special attention to have a stable core and a straight back.
Is this exercise also for beginners?
The planks themselves are exercises recommended for all levels. They do not require a specific physical condition. The level of demand is set by each person, measuring their activation and recovery times.
There are many types of abdominal planks. These exercises can be adapted with variations, increasing or reducing the difficulty of the exercises. Once we have mastered the classic abdominal plank, we can increase the level of difficulty with movements of the upper or lower body, or both. All of them, without modifying the posture of the back, which must be fixed and aligned with our spine.
We can also add difficulty by doing them on unstable bases, this variation is very favorable if we seek to strengthen our stabilizing muscles, such as the transversus abdominis.
Depending on the placement of our arms, they are divided into:
- High plank, also known as hand plank. It is a static exercise, where instead of supporting the forearms, we will use the palm of our hands as a point of support on the mat. It is important to pay special attention to the placement of hands and elbows. The correct way is aligned with the shoulders, so you will avoid injuries and gain stability.
- Low plank, version where the support point is the forearms. This type of plank involves the same effort as high planks. It would be a mistake to think that there is a type of plank depending on your level of training or physical condition. Remember to always align your arms to your shoulders.
- Lateral plank. As the name suggests, the side of our body will be our main point of support. The classic version of this variation is, supported on one forearm and one foot, both on the same side.
Whether we are going to perform high planks or low planks, it is important to internalize these basic tips:
- Do not let your back sag from your shoulders.
- Keep your back as straight as possible, with lumbar retrogression.
- Try to form a straight line from head to toe.
If you have any physical limitations, planks, like all exercises, can be adapted. The best known way to adapt a plank is to support the knees. In this way, our abdominal area will support less tension. Another option is to use a chair as a base. Performing these exercises on a chair will give us a lower inclination, perfect if you suffer from injuries that prevent you from performing them naturally.
How many sets and how long do I have to do them?The ideal would be to introduce a minimum of 10 minutes of core exercises in our daily training. We can do them interspersed with other exercises or as a block. The duration of the abdominal planks will depend on your physical condition. Try 30 seconds of planks, with 10-second breaks. As you strengthen your core, add longer times, and challenge your body!
6 abdominal planks for women.
María Ramos Santos, personal trainer at Fitness and Nutrition, explains the best types of abdominal planks, suitable for all levels:
1. One-legged balance planks. Get into a plank position(high orlow), with the palms of your hands or elbows resting on the mat. Lift one leg off the floor and try to keep your balance for a few seconds. Put the leg back on the mat and repeat the exercise with the other leg. Remember to keep your core straight and your arms in line with your shoulders.
2. The "superman" plank. This is a variation of the balance plank. In this case, we will raise our hands, alternating the right and left, getting to place the arms completely straight. We always keep a balance with our abdominal area. The position of our shoulders should be parallel to our hips. For more difficulty, raise at the same time, the right arm and the left leg, without losing the posture. Later, repeat the exercise with the opposite side.
3. Plank with knee to chest. Challenge your abdomen with this plank. Take your time to find a position where you are comfortable enough. From here, bend one knee and try to touch your opposite elbow with it. Repeat this exercise with the opposite leg and so on repeatedly.
4. High plank with leg openers. From the plank position and keeping the core completely straight, we open and close the legs. You will notice that this type of plank combines cardio with core activation. A higher level would be, at the same time that you open your legs, try to touch your shoulder with the opposite hand. Here you will not only be working your core, you will also be activating your arms and shoulders.
5. Plank with support changes. This exercise merges high planks and low planks . Get into a plank position. Rest your hands on the mat, remember to keep your back completely straight. From here, change your fulcrum from forearms to hands. Seconds later, return to your starting position. Perform this movement for several seconds.
6. Push-up plank. From a high plank position , perform a push-up. Return to the starting position and so on repeatedly. If you find it too complex, try doing these exercises with knee support.
If you want to add more difficulty to your workouts, we recommend using unstable bases such as afit ball or a bosu.
Now you have all the tips to start your abdominal plank workout! Always remember to warm up before starting your physical activity and stretch once you have finished.