Never heard of planks? People avoid them like squats, think they are a plague, and generally hate them.
They push your body to the limit and you can do them anywhere... What's not to like?
If you've been one of those people who go to the gym religiously to spend 45 minutes on ab exercises alone but you haven't used planks, what are you doing with yourself?
Related - Planks: The Only Movement You Need For a Strong Core?
Planks help with posture, improve balance and overall athleticism, give you more confidence, and help build a physique all the bros will be jealous of.
There is one downside...
The plank is a popular pose in yoga. You're probably thinking "what does deadlifting 605 pounds have to do with yoga?" Everything.
Many of us live sedentary lives where planks can almost "reverse" the damage we are doing by sitting all day and having poor posture.
Let's go over some benefits of planking you may not have heard of.
Plank form tips and instruction.
The 7 Hidden Benefits of Planks
#1 - Improved Posture and Reduced Back Pain
Next time you are at work, do a posture check about halfway through your day. Slouched over? Does your back hurt?
If this is you, then listen up.
Planks provide improved posture because it helps stretch muscles that are dormant while sitting, and relaxing muscles that are constantly under tension.
Planks enhance the health of your back as a whole, ultimately inhibiting certain types of back pain and strengthening of your spine.
Once your posture is improved, it helps align the vertebrae which will take unnecessary stress off of that region. Since the muscles around your spine are strengthening, your ligaments and vertebrae get into line and prevent painful conditions in your back.
#2 - More Confidence
Who doesn't want more confidence?
Being able to conquer such an overwhelming exercise such as holding the plank for 60 seconds gives you a confidence and morale boost when you complete it.
Along with the confidence, you gain from doing them, your body will thank you with a better posture without pain. Practicing power stances such as taking up more space and putting your hands on hips has been shown to increase testosterone levels in your body.
Being able to complete something that seems impossible like a 60-second plank builds confidence into all parts of your life, especially in the gym.
#3 - Improved Balance
Your balance is something that can be improved. If you're like me and stumble over everything, planks will help.
Many of your smaller muscles in your body help improve your balance. Each small adjustment is a muscle or group of muscles working to keep you upright. Working these muscles with some planks will yield stronger muscles that can endure more tension for longer periods of time.
Plank variations such as side planks are nearly impossible at the beginning, but become easier over time.
#4 - Burned Calories
Planks burn a literal crap ton of calories. If you've never tried planks and had a rainstorm of sweat dripping off of your face before, you have to try it.
Planks are an exercise you can do literally anywhere and burn calories while you do it. The added muscle mass from doing planks also help boost your metabolism and helps you keep that furnace burning fat off.
Your overall athleticism will improve, so playing sports with your kids or friends will be something you actually want to do now.
#5 - Muscle Endurance
If you've ever made the mistake of taking stairs up multiple flights and felt like dying, your conditioning and muscle endurance needs some work.
Planks work on muscle endurance because of the static hold you complete; you are holding your body weight in a static position and struggling to do it right.
The stress and strain you are putting on your muscles are conditioning them to be able to have more output and hold their positions for much longer.
Again, this helps with overall athleticism and posture. Two things that make the difference between being a bro and being a whoa.
#6 - Better Than Sit-Ups and Crunches
If you have been putting months into daily sit-ups and crunches, you're wasting your time. The posture you hold when doing crunches and sit-ups exacerbates the problem of sitting forever, weakening your back muscles.
This, along with them being less effective as planks, makes doing them stupid.
If you've never tried planks before, your abs and core will thank you.
#7 - Build Your Meditation Skills
Ever psych yourself out of a big lift because you were nervous?
It happens to all of us.
Being able to have control over your mind is 80% of a lift. If you've been training consistently and putting in the hard work, you can lift it.
We're not talking about ego lifts or anything stupid, but if you keep psyching yourself out of a 315 deadlift because there are 3 wheels per side, it's all in your mind.
Being able to fight through the pain and pushing yourself to complete your planks will give you the mental fortitude needed to lift some big weights.
Already mastered planks or want to push yourself further? Check out some of these plank variations that will give you a run for your money.
Beginner Plank Variations
Rocking Plank - Perform calf raises to push your shoulders past your arms and rock back.
Planks With Shoulder Touches - Keeping your body as rigid as possible, take one arm and touch your shoulders. Repeat for other side.
Crouching Plank - Start a plank on your knees, put weight on the balls of your feet to get to a normal plank position. Repeat.
Intermediate Plank Variations
Side Plank - Start in the regular plank position and shift weight to one side. Reach your arm out to the side and repeat for other side.
Walking Planks - Start in a plank position and lower one arm to your elbow and back up. Repeat for other side.
Extended Planks - Slowly bring your arms further and further out, similar to a Spiderman push-up.
Extreme Plank Variations
Plank Hip Dips - Start in a plank position and oblique crunch your hips to one side. Repeat for the other side.
Plank Jacks - In a plank position jump your legs out and back in as if you were doing a jumping jack.
Bird Dog Planks - In a regular plank position, lift your right leg behind you and your left arm in front. Repeat for the other side.
Planks won't magically make your six pack show, and they certainly aren't the only exercise you need to do... But doing some planks regularly will drastically improve your physique and overall pain levels.
If you do have back issues, have a somewhat sedentary life, and want to build a core that can handle 500+ pound squats, implementing planks will help.
Once you master planks, I would recommend trying out side planks and other plank variations for a well-rounded physique.
Cutty Strength is a vision I’ve had since 2013 and has grown into something bigger than I ever thought possible. I changed gears and started writing strength training and powerlifting articles to provide more detailed information to help powerlifters and lifters who are interested in strength training.
* Tiger Fitness does not imply any medical advice in this article. There are no guarantees of specific results and results may vary. Please consult your family Dr. before starting any diet or training program.