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Gain core strength and definition with planks

A side shot of a perfectly executed front plank.
A side shot of a perfectly executed front plank.
K. LaPierre

Given the spring weather experience here in Vermont, there will be days that will limit any sort of outdoor activity.  And if you don’t have a gym membership, these are the days to fine tune and experiment with your home workout routine. One exercise you’ll definitely want to consider is planks. Not only are planks rated as one of the top exercises for adding strength and stability to your core, but they also have yoga roots and are beneficial to anyone who can spare a few minutes a couple times a week.

Planks target the stabilizing muscles and helps with definition within the core area, especially your abs. Also if done properly, planks will raise your heart rate enough to help you burn extra calories and burn more fat as fuel.

One of the many great things about planks is that they don’t require a ton of space to do. If you’re one of many people who are holding off on outdoor activity until this cooler weather blows over, planks could be done in the comfort of your own home. In fact you can do them right on the floor in your living room or bedroom as well as outside on the grass if you prefer the outdoors.


So how do you do it?  Lie face down on either a floor of your preference or exercise mat. With your palms face down and legs extended lift your body off the floor, resting your body weight on your forearms and toes. Keep your knees off the ground, your abs sucked in towards your spine and your back straight. Focus on a controlled breathing pattern and never hold your breath. Hold this position for 20-30 seconds for the first set and adjust the duration of the remaining sets according to your fitness level.  4-5 sets twice a week is a great starting point to help you see results and gain confidence with your technique. These are considered front planks. Side planks have the same idea except your body weight is held up with one side of your body and one forearm as opposed to two.

Great technique and breathing are the keys to success with planks. The progressions and variations planks offer will help keep you challenged and motivated. But it all starts with the foundation.