BENGALURU : The core is not just your abs. It’s a series of muscles, it’s everything minus your limbs. The core is used in almost every movement of the human body. Hence, if it is not strong, you are prone to many injuries. The major muscles of the core reside in the area of the belly and the mid and lower back. The hips, shoulders and the neck, on the other hand, are the minor core muscles.
Every human core needs to be strong. To play a sport or to run, to bend down or climb stairs – every functional movement is dependent on the core. Weak core muscles means poor posture and back pain. Our sedentary lifestyle only contributes to weakening of the core muscles. There is a real need to strengthen them.It is important to first achieve core stability to protect the spine and other muscles from injury. Training the core is not limited to crunches. In fact, the core never needed crunches. It needs functional movements like squats, weight lifting, push-ups, and others, like the classic plank, hip bridge, and cat-camel, bird-dog poses, etc.
The plank and side plank can help test static core strength, and knees to chest, and toes to bar test dynamic core strength. So for all the beginners out there, let’s start with the basic plank and side plank. Practising this can do wonders for your core. Planks are easy to implement, do not need any equipment and can be done absolutely anywhere and also in any attire. They are great for abs as they engage all abdomen muscles and the glutes as well. Besides burning calories, improving stability and posture, planks also strengthen back muscles, which helps keep your spine safe from injuries.
Bottom line, practise planks every day. The elbow or raised plank and the side plank can be a part of your daily warm-up or added to your main workout. You can also hold a plank while reading or listening to something, or even while talking on the phone. Make the plank a daily habit and your body will thank you.
(The author is a fitness expert with Cure.Fit)
Nail the plank
Get into a push-up position on the floor, palms right under your shoulders, head to toe in one straight line. Do not drop your hips or push it up to the ceiling. Your head must be aligned with the spine, eyes on the floor. Hold the position for as long as you can. Start slow, 15 seconds and then gradually progress to 90 seconds. If this is hard, bring your knees down and start with a knee plank.
The same position can be maintained, with elbows on the floor and elbows under shoulders for the elbow plank.
For side plank, your elbow must be located directly under the shoulder and feet must be stacked on top of each other, while maintaining straight spinal
alignment. Start with 15 seconds on either side and progress to 60 seconds.
Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
When your form begins to suffer, drop, relax and do it again if you need to. Do not overdo the hold time. A few minutes is alright, but it can compromise form. So hold for a shorter, challenging duration and keep it consistent.
You can make it more challenging by doing single leg planks, plank shoulder taps, reverse plank and more such variations.