All roads lead to fitness! Here’s why: If we don’t take care of our bodies, minds, and spirits as we age, we won’t have the strength and stamina to do everything we have to do and want to do. If you feel fit and good about your overall wellbeing, (including how you look, another positive benefit of exercising), you’ll be much more inclined to pursue opportunities and confront challenges. One positive dot connects to another.
Finding time for fitness isn’t always easy, though.
At the very heart of our overall fitness program is one exercise that truly does it all. The Plank tones and strengthens every part of the body: legs, back, arms, shoulders, abdomen, hips, and butt. It’s the one thing I do every single day, even if I have no time to do anything else.
Try doing this 28-day planking challenge:
Day 1 – 20 seconds
Day 2 – 20 seconds
Day 3 – 30 seconds
Day 4 – 30 seconds
Day 5 – 40 seconds
Day 6 – rest
Day 7 – 45 seconds
Day 8 – 45 seconds
Day 9 – 60 seconds
Day 10 – 60 seconds
Day 11 – 60 seconds
Day 12 – 90 seconds
Day 13 – rest
Day 14 – 90 seconds
Day 15 – 90 seconds
Day 16 – 120 seconds
Day 17 – 120 seconds
Day 18 – 150 seconds
Day 19 – rest
Day 20 – 150 seconds
Day 21 – 150 seconds
Day 22 – 180 seconds
Day 23 – 180 seconds
Day 24 – 210 seconds
Day 25 – rest
Day 26 – 210 seconds
Day 27 – 240 seconds
Day 28 – 240 seconds
Here are the top 7 reasons why you should do planks every day:
1.You can do it anywhere, anytime, and it’s free
There’s no need to go to a gym or trainer to do this move. Just get down on a rug or yoga mat and try to hold the correct pose (see video) for 60 seconds or more. If you can, take a 10-second break and do it again. Aim for three sets (preferably combined with 20 push-ups and 20 squats).
2.It helps fight osteoporosis
According to the National osteoporosis Foundation, 9 million American adults have osteoporosis and over 48 million more have low bone mass, placing them at risk for osteoporosis and broken bones. But, you don’t always know you have this disease until you break something. Take control and do this exercise to build better bones.
3.A toned belly
Planking will help build your deep inner core muscles that lay the groundwork for that six-pack look. As your abdominal muscles become stronger, your mid-section will tighten.
Keep in mind, however, that in order to really get “six-pack” abs, you have to shed fat. For men that would be a body fat of about 6 percent, and women around 9 percent, in order to achieve that classic six-pack. This is not necessarily healthy.
4.Reduce back pain
Planks work for back pain because they strengthen your core, which has the pleasant “side effect” of reducing back pain. They also strengthen your back muscles, especially those in your upper back.
While building strength, planks also increase flexibility in your posterior muscle groups. The muscles around your shoulders, collarbone, and shoulder blades will expand and stretch (an area that often receives little attention), as will your hamstrings and even the arches of your feet and your toes.
If you do a side plank, you can also stretch out your sides (especially if you extend your arm up over your head in line with your body). To increase the stretching benefits, try a rocking plank – once in basic plank form, rock your body back and forth by moving your toes a few inches either way.
6.Improve your mood
Virtually every exercise has the potential to give you a mood boost, and planks are no exception. Planks are unique, however, in that they help stretch and ultimately relax muscles groups that often become stiff and tense from prolonged sitting. The tension release that planks provide is uplifting for your spirit.
7.Improve your balance and posture
To do a plank correctly, you must engage your abs to stay upright. Side planks or planks with extensions are particularly beneficial for building balance, as are planks performed on a stability ball. To test and strengthen your balance, try a side plank with a leg raise – get into side plank position, then lift your top leg and hold for one count. Lower it and repeat, then switch sides. In addition, planks work all the muscles you need to maintain proper posture, like your back, chest, shoulders, abs, and neck. If you do planks regularly, you’ll find you’re able to sit or stand up straighter with ease.
Correct plank position
The right position for this exercise is crucial. When you get yourself on your elbows and bend down on your toes, it is very important for your upper body to be positioned in straight line.
Make sure your body is in the proper position and the neck and head are in straight line with your back.
Breathe deeply with the abdominal muscles. Your elbows should be directly under your shoulders and your heels pressed back. Squeeze your quads and glutes while maintaining a neutral spine.