Easy plank exercises to do at home

Monday February 22 2021
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Plank exercises will improve your posture and keep your bones aligned. PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES.

By Joan Salmon

While it is easy to learn planks, it becomes difficult to keep up with them. Therefore, if you are a beginner, it might take you some time to delve into advanced plank positions. 

Lately, because of Covid-19, it has become common and normal to work out from the comfort of your own home. Here are some plank workouts you can do in the comfort of your home. 

Forearm plank
It is the most common plank exercise and Elvis Kyaterekera, a fitness instructor, says it is sometimes referred to as the standard plank.
To do this, lie face down with your elbows bent directly beneath your shoulders for support and palms flat on the ground. Your legs must be extended with feet hip width apart. Then, engage your abs and tuck your toes to raise your body while the forearms remain on the floor, pressing on it. While at it, ensure you form a straight line from your shoulders to the heels. Keep in this position for 30-60 seconds.

Side plank
Anne Kiisa, a fitness coach, says this plank twist increases the work of the muscles on the sides of your midsection yet also engaging the deep core muscles.
Start by lying on the left side, hips, knees, with feet stacked. Then place your left hand on the floor to raise and support your body as far as possible above the ground. In so doing, you will work the left obliques when lifting the hips up. 

Then lift the right arm upwards to create a T with the arms so that you form a straight, diagonal line from your shoulders to the heels. Maintain this position for 30-60 seconds, before switching sides.

Straight-arm plank

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This plank variation is similar to a push-up and like the forearm plank, Kyaterekera says, it calls for shoulder stabilisation. You will start on all fours with the wrists directly beneath the shoulders and toes supporting your feet. 
Then, step one foot back followed by the other as you work the abs and straighten the legs. As you do this, ensure your hands are pushing you away from the floor and you are forming a straight line from your shoulders to the heels. Maintain this position for 30-60 seconds.

Side plank crunch
This is a blend of the side and crunch planks and Kyaterekera says it starts with a straight-arm side plank on your left side with knees, hips and feet stacked with the left shoulder right above your left wrist. Then put your right hand behind your head.

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Side planks work muscles that help reduce your risk of back injury . PHOTO/FOCUS FITNESS.

In this position, bend through the right side to crunch up and over to the right, moving the right knee towards the elbow. Slowly resume the side plank position while keeping your right hand behind your head. Do this eight to 10 times before switching sides.

Dolphin plank
With this plank, you get to engage your shoulders and back. Kiisa say the variation is easier than the traditional one because one does not have to use the wrists but rather the forearms for balance. 
Assume the plank position then move into an inverted V position with the tips of your toes supporting your feet before returning to the plank position. Do this eight to 10 times.

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This plank engages alot of arm muscles and works your core. PHOTO/BAGSNOB.

Plank knee tap
Kyaterekera says this plank variation helps you to engage the rectus abdominus (six-pack) as well as the transverse abdominus (the muscles that look like a corset wrap around your torso).
Start in a forearm plank position with feet hip-width apart while elbows are directly beneath your shoulders and shoulder-width apart to form a straight line from your shoulders to the heels. 

Slightly tilt your pelvis forward while keeping your hips steady and bend both knees towards the ground. Hold this position for a few seconds, before straightening your legs while pressing through heels. Do this 10-12 times. 

Caterpillar plank
This variation is different as you start out standing and steadily work towards the ground, Kiisa shares. In standing position with feet together, bend forwards at the waist then place your hands on the ground. As though you were walking with your hands get into a plank position with your wrists directly beneath your shoulders to form a straight line from your shoulders to the heels.

With your hips in line with the shoulders, move your left knee inwards towards your chest. Hold the position for a short while, say three seconds, before stepping back into tap plank position.
Do the same with the right side then in backward motion walk with your hands towards your feet and roll back into a standing position. Repeat this eight to 10 times.

Twisting knee plank
This plank variation is akin to mountain climbing, which Kyaterekera says is because it has a few extra manoeuvres than other planks. Starting in a straight arm plank with your wrists directly below your shoulders, form a straight line from shoulders to heels. With steady shoulders, twist your lower body to the right to bring your left hip towards the ground then return to the centre. 

Thereafter, twist your lower body to the left, bringing your right hip towards the ground then return to the centre. Then, pull your right knee inwards to the left elbow and hold this position for a few seconds, say three before returning to plank position. 

Finally, bring your left knee inwards to the right elbow, hold this position for a few seconds, say three before returning to plank position. Keep changing hip twists and diagonal knee pulls for 10-12 cycles.

Benefits
Improve your posture: 
By strengthening your back, chest, shoulders, neck, and abs, this exercise makes it easier to keep your shoulders back and your lower back in a neutral position while sitting or standing, two vital components of good posture.

Flexibility: While it may not feel like it, planks are a great way to stretch out the lower half of your body. Getting into the hold position lengthens your hamstrings as well as the arches of your feet, making the plank pose a dual strength and stretch exercise.

Easy to modify: While the classic plank is a great go-to exercise, planks can also be modified and added to in order to suit what your body needs.

editorial@ug.nationmedia.com 

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