Build a strong core with planks

One of the best exercises you can do only needs a couple minutes a day.

It will feel like an eternity and leave you shaking, but you will build a strong core with planks.

woman doing side plank exercise for strong core

Planks work all muscle groups in your core, help strengthen your entire body and you can pretty much do them anywhere. You pick a place: gym, home, hotel, airport, the park or wherever your heart desires. 

Plus, planks don’t require any equipment or involve any complex movements. It’s a bodyweight exercise – just you and your body, no equipment needed. If you take it outside, like I did, you can use a yoga mat.

Why are plank exercises good for your core?

Your core is made up of several muscle groups and covers your abs, back, hips, pelvis and glutes. A weak core can cause all kinds of problems. It can lead to poor posture and inevitably to neck and shoulder pain. Sore knees and hips often can be linked to a weak core.

But the biggest issue with a weak core is low back pain. Back muscles and your core help to stabilize your body before any movement. If your core is weak your surrounding muscles have to compensate.

I can tell when I haven’t been working consistently on my core because my lower back screams from doing deadlifts and other weighted lower body exercises.

Here’s how to do a plank correctly

  • Lie facedown with your forearms on the floor, with your legs extended and your feet together.
  • Push into your forearms as you raise your body so it forms a straight line from your head and neck to your feet. Do not let your hips rise or sag.
  • Keep your head down and hold this position as you engage your ab muscles.
  • Try to maintain the position for up to 30 seconds and then lower your body and rest. Work toward completing two to three sets.

Standard plank

Get into a push-up position but stay on your forearms. Pull your abs in while keeping your back straight. Hold this position for the desired amount of time.

woman doing standard plank to build strong core

Plank leg lift

Similar to standard plank but while you are holding your body, raise one leg off the ground for desired amount of time. Lower back to ground and switch legs.

Side Plank

Get into a standard plank but you will be holding the standard plank on both sides. Get into standard plank position and then turn to the left or right. Hold your abs in to really engage your core. After holding for the desired about of time switch sides.

Up down plank

Get into a push up position. Pull your abs in while keeping your back straight. Transition to your forearms and then back into a push up position on your hands. Repeat desired amount of times.

Plank dips

Start in a plank position. Rotate your hips to the right and dip your body almost to the floor. Return to the starting position and repeat on the left side. Repeat the desired number of times.

Can plank exercises be done every day?

You can perform a plank every day, on alternate days, or simply as part of your regular workouts.

How long do you have to hold plank?

The world record for holding a plank is more than eight hours. However, you don’t need to hold it that long. Most experts suggest anywhere from 10 up to 30 seconds is plenty.

The core muscles support the rest of your body. Having a strong core can help minimize low-back pain, improve your performance and enhance your overall fitness.

Plank Core Workout

Perform this workout three days a week on non-consecutive days. Complete the circuit three times. Perform each exercise for time, and feel free to adjust the time intervals to suit your fitness level.

Ideally, you want to increase the interval time by 5-10 seconds per exercise each week. If you are a beginner, try holding for 15 seconds and increase from there.

Rest when you need to and pay attention to your form. If your back starts to arch, drop to your knees. And then start again.

I am working on increasing my core. I use planks, hanging ab work and ab wheel roller to help increase my strength. I know as I build a stronger core with planks it will increase my overall athletic performance and things I do every day.

How long can you hold your plank?

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