Are planks one of the most overrated exercises, or do they live up to their reputation?
To answer this question, we have to take a look at different points.
Right away, we will start with the muscle activation. The basic plank is done on your forearms. Baseline variation target the muscles mostly located at the front side of your body
The plank is an anterior chain focus movement, so the primary muscles you use are hip flexors and your abs. Of course, you need many other muscles to stabilize a body like the quads muscles, serratus anterior, and even your erector spinae, which works as an antagonist to the abdominal muscles. Depending on the execution, you can increase the activity of different muscles.
What is the function of the core?
The core function is to transfer the forces and resist the movement, not to create it.
Daily, core muscles are involved in flexion, extension, and rotation. But in training, they resist these movements with the idea of protecting the body from excessive movements and injuries (spine in most cases). In that sense, a plank is anti-extension exercises with significant self-muscle activation of the person performing this exercise.
The study from 2014 compared modified versions of the standard plank where the modifying position will be different muscle activation.
Keeping all those facts in mind, we move on to the question.
Is plank an effective exercise or just a waste of time? Well, it depends.
If you are already pretty advanced and can hold the basic flying longer than 1-minute, it’s not that effective in terms of strength.
That’s why Be Strong personal trainers are suggesting different variations of plank using regressions or progressions depending on your current training level.
Those exercises benefit from that your muscles have a lot more work to do in different variations in different variations to stabilize your body.
If you are a beginner and already struggle to hold a plank for about 30 seconds, you should know that the regular plank is one of the best basic exercises you can do.
With this exercise, you can do your necessary strength coordination and body alignment.
This is very important when you progress to other exercises like mountain climbers, push-ups, and others.
Most beginners are just totally overstrained if they have to aim for proper body tension in their core while maintaining the proper joint alignment in their arms and shoulders.
Of course, we also have to talk about the downsides of the plank. The often-heard argument of the plank is that it is very hip flexor dominant.
What is true?
You shouldn’t worry too much about over-train your hip flexors when it comes to strength exercises. Following a proper training program that trains a body in a balanced way without neglecting basic mobility
Most of the hip flexor problems result from sitting all day or repetitive movements like long-distance running.
If you still need help designing a program and how to start or train in a balanced way, book your free assessment with Be Strong personal trainers to find out more.