For as long as the coveted six-pack has been a thing (was it ever not a thing?!) how to attain said abs has been a controversial subject. In times past it was thought that crunches were the way-to-go. In fact, you'd be hard pressed to enter a gym in the 90's and not see at least one gym rat laboring, crunching AMRAP.
Well, forget everything you've been told. Trainers and physiologists alike are writing a eulogy for the traditional crunch, and holding planks up on a pedestal.
Why Planks are Better Than the Traditional Crunch
The biggest difference between planks and crunches is the number of muscles used to perform each exercise. Crunches mainly use the rectus abdominal muscles and a little bit of the obliques. A plank, when done correctly, engages multiple muscle groups, including your rhomboids and trapezius (upper back), your rectus abdominis (the six-pack of muscles in your abs), your obliques and even your upper thighs. Working more muscles means not just seeing more toning but also more calorie burning. Score.
How to Level-Up Your Plank Game
While planking is an effective ab workout all on it's own, you can make the movement more difficult by grabbing a pair of five-to-10-pounders and trying the plank variations featured in POPSUGAR's 15 plank variations video:
Just remember, to get the full benefits from planking, the movement must be executed properly. To pull off the perfect plank you need to:
- Place hands directly under the shoulders (take care to avoid shifting back as you get tired).
- Ground the toes into the floor and squeeze your glutes to stabilize the body. Do not lock or hyperextend your knees.
- Keep your head in line with your back (staring at a spot on the floor will help).
Personally, I like to set a timer and plank a few times throughout the day. It's a great way to engage your core, protect your spine, and get the blood pumping when you find yourself stuck at a desk for hours at a time.
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