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Plank Pose (Phalakasana) – A beginner’s guide

 

This little unassuming pose uses the body’s own calisthenics to produce great results which can be achieved with prolonged repetition. To the casual observer, it may look like you’re not doing much but in actuality, you’re targeting and activating muscles that would require a heck of a lot more workout time to achieve

Plank Pose Benefits:

  • It is one of the best moves that not only strengthens your core muscles (abs), but it also tones and strengthens your chest, your lower back, your quadriceps and your legs.
  • Doing Plank Pose is a great way to build strength and stamina.
  • Weak abs can lead to poor posture.
  • Poor posture can cause back pain and since plank pose strengthens the arms as well as the spine muscles, it will help improve your posture.
  • Back pain will lessen over time as the core muscles become stronger.
  • Plank Pose targets all the major stomach muscles; Rectus Abdominus, External Obliques, Internal Obliques, Transversus Abdominus and the Hip Flexors.
  • Increasing the body’s muscle mass will increase bone strength and aid in weight loss and weight loss maintenance.
  • Plank Pose helps build strong, lean muscles. The higher your body’s muscle mass, the greater your calorie burn.

Transitional Pose:

Plank can be considered a transitional pose between Downward Facing Dog aka Down Dog (Addho Mukha Svanasana), Upward Facing Dog aka Down Dog (Urdha Mukha Svanasana) and Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana).

It is a part of the flowing sequence, Sun Salutation.

  • From Down Dog, walk forward on hands until arms are directly under shoulders.
  • Hold body and butt in a straight line, no sagging as that can lead to back pain as well as back injury.
  • Hold for several breaths or until you start to shake, usually 15-30 seconds if you’re just starting out.
  • From plank, you can transition to Up Dog, Side Plank or three-legged plank.

Plank Variations:

As with many exercises, there are several variations of plank that can be used depending on your fitness level.

  • Side Plank is performed by holding the body up on one hand, legs extended, hips and feet stacked on top of each other. A slight variation can be done on your elbow or with legs bent, stacked on top of each other and hips on the floor.
  • Three- legged plank variation, from plank position, lift one leg up and hold for several breaths, (repeat on other leg).
  • Half plank variation, can be performed with knees on the floor, holding upper body up on hands and elbows, back straight. This variation can be used to build up strength and work up to full plank position on hands and toes.
  • Reverse plank is done facing upward. While in a siting position, place hands on floor by hips and push up. Body is extended into a straight line with heels on the floor and toes pointing toward the ceiling or sky, if you’re outside. Look straight up and take several breaths.

Beginner tips:

Any variations of plank can be beneficial, as it’s used to build up strength and stamina as well as create lean muscles.

  • Challenge yourself by holding the pose for a breath or two longer every time you perform this move.
  • Take breaks in between holds by resting in Child’s Pose (Balasana).
  • Challenge yourself to see how long you can hold the pose.

Plank Pose is a great ab workout that will not only build strength and stamina but create lean muscles too. It will improve your balance and help reduce back pain.

The stretching and extending aspect of this pose will offer tension relief from body aches and let’s not forget the endorphins the body will produce, happy stress relieving endorphins.

Your back and your abs will thank you.

 

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Margarette Darbouze

14 Comments

  1. This is a great article detailing the plank and its benefits. I have been doing them for awhile and love it, at my gyms we have contests to see who can hold them the longest..

  2. I can confirm that plank is one great exercise! I have been doing plank as a part of my daily home workout for 3 months and the results begin to show off. I am 5 months postpartum and thanks to plank my tummy is flatter and I dont feel pain in my lower back that much as before. Great exercise!

  3. Thank you for sharing with us this great article on plank pose.I love exercising for the benefits of my body.

    I have been doing plank pose at home but I didn’t know its name and now I found your article,I know its name and the benefits of it.

    I love this article

  4. From the picture at the top of the page, it looks like you are on your toes and putting the weight on your hands.  So do you keep your knees straight?  How long would you say you should hold the pose as a beginner.  Probably as long as possible?  I’m so new to all of this, but I do want to strengthen both my back and my arms.  I have a lot of pain in my body, a lot in my back, and it goes out at least once a year where I can’t even walk without it catching.  It’s horrible.  I’ll let you know how I do with this.  Thanks for the suggestion.

    • You can try the modified version which is done on the knees.  You can start by holding the pose for a minimum of three breaths, in and out.  Take a break and then repeat.

  5. Plank Pose is a great ab workout, when I started in the gym I couldn’t do it, only pretending against the wall, my couch said it was good. After 6 month I can do it, and is really great. Years before I never heard about lateral plank, for me it is complete new, I do it with my knee on the floor, I hope will do better soon 💪

    • Practice makes perfect.  Modified plank pose is better than no plank pose at all.  Keep up the good work.

  6. I am so glad that I stumbled across this post.  One of my New Year’s Resolutions has been to get back in shape.  Yet, between the flu and it being horribly cold & snowy outside; I did not start exercising again until yesterday.   I used to run 5K’s and 10K’s, so it was very humbling to realize that I was sore from going on a long walk with my dog yesterday.   I went on another walk this morning.   

    Yet, I was thinking that I needed to work on my upper body strength and my core.   Yet, when you have allowed yourself to get so out of shape, it takes a bit of motivation to find something that is quick and easy to do that does not require any equipment.    

    I think doing a few planks are the answer to my solution.   As you said, for something so simple, they really are a good workout.  (We used to do them in our Army physical fitness workouts.   As you suggested, they are also used in yoga routines.)   For me, I love this suggestion because I know that once I get started working out again, I will start feeling better and it will become a habit.   Thanks!!!!   

    • I’m in the same predicament.  I’m also trying to get back into shape after a serious car accident.  I look forward to getting back in shape too.

  7. I was surprised to read how many benefits there were to be had by executing this pose. I had been an athlete and soldier for most of my younger years. Even still, I must admit that my athletic “range” was actually somewhat limited. For the most part, my focus has always been on resistance movements and stretching. This is a bit different. Definitely something that I need to start doing as my lower back hurts more often now and I’m pretty sure it’s from weaker abs.

    • I’m currently building up my time in plank pose.  I used to be able to hold it for about 10 minutes but a car accident derailed my fitness and now I’m starting from scratch.  And yes, weak abs can cause back aches.

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