There are few exercises more efficient and versatile than the plank. With this expert advice, you can build yourself up to doing a two-minute plank in as little as two weeks.
While you shouldn’t feel any pressure to set stringent goals coming into the new year, it can be a good thing to look to new fitness challenges to help you pick your exercise momentum back up at the end of the festive period.
And what better way to push yourself than by working on a staple exercise like the plank, which activates the muscles in your core, lower body and upper body all at once.
“It’s an extremely efficient exercise,” says India Bailey, Head of Cycle, Brand and Culture at Core Collective. While often used primarily to strengthen the abdominal muscles and obliques, it also works the “hips and lower back, and targets your pectoral muscles (chest), arms, quads, glutes, and your trapezius and rhomboids (upper back).”
The many muscles planking activates means it is super versatile, making it a great exercise to use in just about any strength training routine, or even just to practice every day “either in the gym or for your at-home workouts,” says India.
It’s super straightforward to do, too. All you need is your body – and that’s it. With your forearms on the floor and your elbows beneath your shoulders, simply lift your body off the ground so that it forms a straight line from your head down to your heels. Hold yourself up like that for however long you can (most people aim for around a minute), keeping your core tight to hold yourself as still as possible.
But do not be fooled by its simplicity. The plank is a challenging exercise, and the longer you hold it for the harder it gets. So why not see how far you can push it, by trying out these top tips for training to do a two-minute plank in as little as two weeks.
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Training to hold a two-minute plank in two weeks
“It’s important to be patient with yourself and begin by focusing on correct form before you start building up your plank time,” says India, especially if you’re a beginner. Then, “once you have built that strong foundation, it’s time to set targets for yourself.”
If your goal is to do a two-minute plank in two weeks, India’s recommendation is that you aim to add 10 to 15 seconds onto your time each time you plank, and “work on planking five times a week or every second day.” However, if you’re feeling up to tackling a daily challenge, chances are you’ll even surpass your goal.
According to India, by planking regularly “you are exposing your muscles to a new experience,” allowing them to adapt and get ready for the next time they do the exercise. As a result, it is likely you will start making progress and seeing results pretty quickly.
Since planking can be quite taxing on the body (prepare to shake from top to toe as you hold yourself in place), it can be hard not to focus on the seconds ticking by while in position. So India suggests you try and “avoid looking at the time so much and focus on breath and form instead.”
“Take deep breaths to take your focus away from the time,” she says, “and scan your body to see if you need to lift your hips slightly or push away from the floor more, to ensure you keep your back and core strong.”
Listening to good, motivational music can help as well, by keeping you focused and in the right mindset to achieve your goals.
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Really, India’s advice for training to hold a two-minute plank boil down to these five simple tips:
- Take deep breaths.
- Focus your attention away from the clock.
- Scan your body to adjust form.
- Push for 10 to 15 seconds longer every time you want to quit.
- Listen to good music.
Get this right, and you could be well on your way to reaping the many benefits of planking, from better posture to improved core strength and stability.
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