Whether you’re walking, reaching, balancing, getting up from a chair, or simply just standing upright, the muscles of your midsection or core are always firing to keep you stable and supported in nearly every movement.
Your core muscles are mobilized in flexion, extension, rotation, abdominal bracing, pelvic tilting, and even the way your shoulder blades move,
People usually think of abs when referring to the core, but our core is actually made up of a much more complex network of muscles found in the trunk of our body which include
- the rectus abdominis (the muscles along the front of your abdomen, likely what you think of when you think “abs”),
- transverse abdominis (the deepest internal core muscles that wrap around your sides and spine),
- erector spinae (a set of muscles in your lower back),
- pelvic floor muscles, and the internal and
- external obliques (the muscles on the sides of your abdomen).
- rotator cuffs, lats, traps, and pectoral muscles can be involved in core work.
The plank is an isometric core strength exercise that involves maintaining a position similar to a push-up for the maximum possible time.
Holding the plank position takes strength and endurance in your abs, back, and core. The plank is one of the best exercises for core conditioning, but it also works your glutes and hamstrings, supports proper posture, and improves balance. In addition, there are many plank progressions that can be done from a standard plank hold.
“I love a plank because it is super simple and creates the trunk stability and strength that is necessary for nearly every other movement in fitness. It primarily works your core, but it also really engages your entire body and creates true overall tension and strength.” —Alex Silver-Fagan, Nike master trainer, certified yoga instructor, and certified functional strength coach
How to do planks
- Rest your forearms on the floor, with your elbows directly underneath your shoulders and hands facing forward so that your arms are parallel.
- Extend your legs out behind you and rest your toes on the floor. Your body should form one straight line from your shoulders to your heels.
- Squeeze your entire core, glutes, and quads, and tuck your butt under a little to keep your lower back straight.
- Make sure you are not dropping your hips or hiking your butt up high toward the ceiling.
Position your head so that your neck is in a neutral position and your gaze is on your hands.
Hold this position.
How to do V-Bicycle
- Begin seated in a V position on the floor, balancing on your butt with legs extended diagonally in front of you and arms extended diagonally behind you (so your limbs form a V shape).
- Bring right elbow toward left knee, keeping chest open and extending right leg out long.
- Repeat on opposite side with left elbow coming to right knee.
- Do as many reps as possible while maintaining proper form, up to 20 reps.