Muscles Contraction During Plank Exercise

Woman Doing Yoga Pose
The plank exercise can be performed with front or side variations. (Image: Ingram Publishing/Ingram Publishing/Getty Images)

The plank is an isometric exercise that targets your abdominal and back muscles, and it’s used for developing core strength and balance. It’s also a versatile exercise with a few key variations, such as the side plank with either a bent leg or a straight knee. Isometric exercises develop muscles by engaging them in a prolonged held position, meaning there is less wear and tear on joints such as the elbow and wrist.

Stiff as a Board

To perform a plank, first lie on the floor or an exercise mat, stomach down, elbows at your sides and under your shoulders. You should be resting on your forearms, fingers pointing away from your head, palms down. Holding in your abdominal muscles, flex your thighs and push your heels out, with your feet resting on tiptoes. Slowly lift your body from the floor, keeping your back and head straight. Breath normally and hold the position for as long as is comfortable. When you’re ready, slowly lower yourself back to the floor.

Variation on a Theme

A side plank with a straight leg is performed by lying on your side, resting on your elbow and forearm for support, with your hip and thigh resting on the floor. From this starting position, straighten your spine, lifting your hip off the floor, and hold for as long as is comfortable. When ready, return to the starting position. If you bend your knees when performing this exercise, you’ll be performing a side plank with a bent knee.

Abs of Steel

The main muscles contracted by the plank are the rectus abdominis and the hard-to-reach transversus abdominis. These are the muscles in your belly, and the muscles that sit in between your belly and your side muscles. Stabilizing muscles contracted include the obliques in your waist, your hip flexors, your quads located in your thighs, the pectoralis major in your chest, and a group of muscles covering your ribcage called serratus anterior, or “boxer’s muscle.”

Warning

Always consult your doctor before embarking on any physical exercise. Seek a qualified personal trainer or gym instructor to take you through any exercises like the plank before trying it.

REFERENCES & RESOURCES
Comments
PARTNER & LICENSEE OF THE LIVESTRONG FOUNDATION

Copyright © 2018 Leaf Group Ltd. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the LIVESTRONG.COM Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Copyright Policy. The material appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM is for educational use only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. LIVESTRONG is a registered trademark of the LIVESTRONG Foundation. The LIVESTRONG Foundation and LIVESTRONG.COM do not endorse any of the products or services that are advertised on the web site. Moreover, we do not select every advertiser or advertisement that appears on the web site-many of the advertisements are served by third party advertising companies.