Plank support quick start guide

Plank exercises can strengthen the core muscles, enhance muscle strength, and improve athletic ability. The benefits include but are not limited to:

  • Improving balance
  • Improving body posture
  • Enhancing spinal stability

Plank exercises are simple and easy to do, with minimal space requirements, but they offer high effectiveness, meaning they have a high cost-performance ratio.

Plank exercises are not effective for weight loss.

Preparing for the Exercise

It is recommended to warm up before any exercise, such as doing some stretching exercises, moving the head, shoulders, neck, waist, abdomen, knee joints, and ankle joints. Leg presses can also be done, among other exercises.

Assess your physical condition, and if you feel discomfort in the shoulders, neck, or lumbar spine, or if you lack physical strength, it is not advisable to do plank exercises. Improper exercise can easily lead to physical injuries.

Key Points of the Exercise

1. Arms:

Support the body with bent elbows on the ground, with the elbows directly below the shoulders and the distance between the elbows the same as the shoulder width.

Keep the position of the elbows unchanged, and naturally move the arms forward, slightly inward, with the fists clenched.

Keep the upper arms and forearms at approximately 90 degrees, with the elbows and forearms touching the ground.

Do not exert excessive force to push the body backward.

2. Shoulders and Neck:

Tighten the shoulder blades to avoid compensatory force from the trapezius muscles due to excessive shoulder shrugging.

Tightening the shoulder blades is important in many exercises, such as bench press training. Zhihu Column: Why is "Tightening the Shoulder Blades" so important in fitness training? How to tighten the shoulder blades? The key is to lower the shoulders (scapular depression) and straighten the chest (scapular retraction).

Naturally retract the chin to keep the head in line with the cervical spine. Do not excessively lower or raise the head, look downward, relax the neck, and maintain the stability of the head position.

Do not exert excessive force to push the body backward.

3. Back, Abdomen, and Hips:

Avoid arching the back, as it causes the arms to compensate for the force.

Avoid slouching, as it puts a burden on the lumbar spine.

Avoid raising the hips too high, as it disperses the force of the core muscles.

The correct posture is to engage the abdominal muscles, tighten the hips, and relax the waist as much as possible, so that the head, upper back, hip joints, and hips are in a straight line.

4. Legs:

Keep the legs straight, naturally inward and close together, push the heels back, touch the heels together, keep the soles of the feet perpendicular to the ground, and support with the toes to increase stability during the exercise.

5. Breathing

Control the rhythm of breathing, avoiding fast or shallow breaths. Maintain a stable and calm state of mind. Plank exercises are not suitable when the body or emotions are excited.

Training Methods

Prioritize maintaining proper form and quality of the exercise. If you lack physical strength, you can pause the training instead of forcing yourself, as it can lead to injuries.

Progress gradually according to individual abilities. Blindly pursuing intensity is not advisable. The longer the duration of plank exercises, the weaker the body's ability to support. Persisting forcefully can increase heart rate and stimulate the cardiovascular system. Additionally, improper body movements can cause harm.

If you have a weak foundation, you can lower the difficulty level and try kneeling plank exercises. For example, train for 15 seconds, rest for 15 seconds as one set, and adjust the number of sets according to your physical condition. As the number of sets increases, you can increase the rest time accordingly.

Once you have gained some strength, maintain the same number of sets and gradually increase the training and rest time in 5-second increments. You can also try using both feet for support.

After adapting to the intensity of plank exercises, maintain 3-5 sets and gradually increase the training time to 30 seconds, 1 minute, or 2 minutes, while adjusting the rest time accordingly.

There is no need to pursue a high number of sets, 3-5 sets are sufficient to achieve the desired exercise effect. If you feel the intensity is insufficient, you can increase the duration of each set, reduce the rest time interval, or slightly increase the number of sets. However, there is no need to pursue a long duration of persistence, within 3 minutes is sufficient.

Introducing an interesting training method: the "less is more" approach. You can do 10 seconds of exercise, rest for 5-10 seconds, three times as one set, with a rest period of 20-30 seconds between sets, and perform 3-5 sets. Of course, this should be adjusted according to your body's actual tolerance.

National Sports Administration: Scientific Fitness - Plank Exercises, Longer is Not Necessarily Better

NetEase: Correct Posture for Plank Exercises, Pay Attention to 5 Details to Improve Exercise Quality

Sina: 7 Common Mistakes in Plank Exercises, Are You Doing It Right?

Zhihu: Misconceptions about Plank Exercises, Never Do Plank Exercises for More Than 3 Minutes!

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