The plank is fantastic for toning a one-too-many-beers tummy, plus it strengthens the back, glutes, shoulders and arms, says Cape-Town based Pilates instructor Lindsay Davis-Hannibal – if you’re doing it right, that is…
Good news: that doesn’t mean playing ironing board for hours, but rather working your way up daily.
Even better news: no more pointless crunches – planking puts less strain on your lower back and neck and targets deeper layers of ab muscles. Use it to shake up your regular routine by slipping it in at the beginning or end of your workout, suggests Shona Hendricks, head of sport sciences at the University of Pretoria. Changes should start showing after six weeks of routine practice using proper form, says Davis-Hannibal.
Feeling more confident? Start by holding for 10 seconds, rest for a minute, then repeat for a total of three planks. Each week try for five seconds longer, ultimately working up to one minute or more.
- You’re recovering from a back or shoulder injury.
- You feel pain in your lower back, neck or shoulders.
- You’re in your last four weeks of pregnancy or first six weeks postnatal.