How tiring is it to do those crunches over and over again, only to have a sharp pain in your abdominal core but no significant fat loss? Well, the alternative is no easy job to do, but it is certainly much more effective, fitness experts say. The exercise called ‘planks’ is taking the fitness world by storm, dealing a death blow to crunches and leg-raises, the staple workouts to get ripped abs.
“Planks, if done properly, use every muscle in your body. As a result, you may not be able to do them easily and in big numbers, but they certainly give you much better results,” says fitness trainer Praveen Patil, senior coach at Muscle Power gym in Secunderabad.
A fitness buff who has tried both planks and crunches, Syed Shahbaaz tells us that he found the planks a great exercise, if exhausting. “You cannot hold a plank for more than 5-10 seconds if you do it properly. But, 10-15 minutes of doing planks a day gets your great fat loss results in a short time,” he says.
However, it is not easy to do the planks ‘properly’. Fitness and yoga exponent Rina Hindocha, co-founder of Touch a Life Foundation, says, “Planks are the king of all core exercises, but one small mistake can ruin your alignment. The plank helps you build strength in your core, upper and lower body. It is a good full-body workout. It really helps improve flexibility by stretching your muscles. You do not need any equipment to perform this exercise. All you need is a bit of space. It will improve your body posture if performed regularly.”
A few things to keep in mind while practising the plank, according to Rina, are that “the palms should be flat, and hands directly under the shoulders (slightly wider than shoulder-width apart), just like they are while doing a push-up.”
Contract your abs, squeeze your glutes to keep our body up, and prevent your lower body from dipping or sticking up, says Rina. “Keep your belly button pulled in. Your body should form a straight line,” she says.
Rina also adds that planks give us a “tighter tummy, improved posture, flexibility and balance, a better mood, and less back pain.”