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What Are the 4 Main Benefits of the Plank Exercise?

| By
author image Miguel Cavazos
Miguel Cavazos is a photographer and fitness trainer in Los Angeles who began writing in 2006. He has contributed health, fitness and nutrition articles to various online publications, previously editing stand-up comedy and writing script coverage as a celebrity assistant. Cavazos holds a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy and political science from Texas Christian University.
What Are the 4 Main Benefits of the Plank Exercise?
Doing a plank on your elbows is an option if you do not have strong wrists. Photo Credit Dana Dowling/Demand Media

Plank exercises are a popular element of isometric training, which involves contracting your muscles against stationary resistance. Isometric exercises are common for injury rehabilitation or reconditioning. Isometric exercises, such as planks, can help you get past strength-training plateaus and improve energy transference between your upper body and lower body.

Plank exercises, in particular, benefit multiple elements of physical fitness and your general well-being.

1. Planks Build Your Upper Body, Lower Body and Core Strength

What Are the 4 Main Benefits of the Plank Exercise?
This is the proper foot position for planks. Your heels should be straight up vertically from your toes. Photo Credit Dana Dowling/Demand Media

The plank exercise helps strengthen midsection, upper-body and lower-body muscles along the front of your body. Planks also strengthen inner core muscles that support your joints.

The rectus abdominis and transverse abdominis that form your outer and inner abdominal muscles, respectively, are primary supporters during plank exercises. The abdominal obliques also stabilize the plank position isometrically. Upper-body stabilizers include the pectoral and serratus muscles. Lower-body stabilizers include the quadriceps, sartorius and tensor fasciae latae.

2. Doing Planks Can Increase Your Flexibility

What Are the 4 Main Benefits of the Plank Exercise?
Doing planks can help improve your flexibility on the back of your body. Photo Credit Dana Dowling/Demand Media

Plank exercises help increase flexibility in posterior muscle groups throughout your body. Your shoulder girdle expands and stretches various muscles around your shoulders, collarbone and shoulder blades.

Pressing the front of your thighs upward and lengthening your legs as much as possible stretches the hamstrings that form the back of your thighs. Plank exercises also stretch the arches of your feet as your toes hyperextend to support your weight.

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3. Planks Can Improve Your Posture

What Are the 4 Main Benefits of the Plank Exercise?
Planks will help improve your posture, which improves your appearance. Photo Credit Dana Dowling/Demand Media

Doing planks can enhance your appearance by improving posture. Planks activate core muscles, including the transverse abdominis and iliopsoas, which stabilize your spine and hips.

Plank exercises help prevent or reverse postural deficiencies, including lordosis and posterior pelvic tilt. Lordosis, or swayback, results from abdominal weaknesses that overextend your back; it tends to make your buttocks stick out. Posterior pelvic tilt, or flat back, results from hip flexor weaknesses and flattens the normal curvature of your spine.

4. Doing Planks Will Help You Build Mental Strength and Wellbeing

What Are the 4 Main Benefits of the Plank Exercise?
Planks can really help build your mental strength as you increase the amount of time you hold them from 10 seconds to 30 seconds to one minute or more! Photo Credit Dana Dowling/Demand Media

Plank exercises might provide mental benefits that improve your mood. Planks stretch muscles that commonly stiffen throughout the day and contribute to stress.

Sitting at your desk might tighten muscles along the back of your thighs when your legs remain bent for several hours. Tension also develops in the shoulder girdle, if your shoulders tend to slump forward.

Yoga Journal recommends plank exercises for stress reduction, because planks can help calm your brain. Plank exercises might also help to suppress anxiety.

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