The Core of It All: Are Planks Necessary?

Welcome back to The Core of It All, our one-stop shop for all things abs. This summer, we want you to focus on centering yourself—not only in the name of looking good and getting toned, but for better overall wellness and relaxation. In our last post, we talked about hitting your abs from all angles. Now, we’ll dive into common misconceptions about planks. Read on for more about the popular ab move.

A few ab exercises have been drilled into our heads as mandatory—one of which is the ever-dreaded plank. The tabletop exercise is meant to put all the weight in your core, allowing you to tighten and squeeze the abs for an extended period of time. 

A big problem, though, is that most of us aren’t doing planks the way they’re intended. Instead of putting the focus in the abs, it’s easy to load up the arms and legs, or strain the shoulders or neck in the process. There’s even research to suggest that holding planks for longer than 10 seconds isn’t helpful, so why waste the time and effort?

But as we mentioned in our first post, the abs shouldn’t be hit from just one angle. Instead, they should be worked from a 360-degree view—the front, the sides, and the back. This requires standing exercises like twists, stretches, and other moves that really engage the core and force you to squeeze the muscles in your stomach without overexertion.

So how did sit-ups and planks become the be-all and end-all of ab conditioning? These exercises are were quite literally adopted from the world of bodybuilding, where massive and overdeveloped muscles are the goal rather than health or function. The same applies for these moves—they’re meant to put excessive weight in the ab muscles, leading to more bulk, rather than offering a lean, sculpted waist. 

This doesn’t mean that sit-ups and planks should be completely erased from your regimen, but simply that many other things need to be incorporated along with them and in the proper ratio. To start with a new ab regimen, focus just on the moves P suggests in the method and steer clear of any others for the first month. Afterwards, you can work in additional moves that may be your favorite or really test your physical fitness abilities. 

Slow Mountain Gliders 

Start in a high plank position with each foot on a glider, feet hip distance apart. Slowly start to bring your right knee in towards your chest, but stopping the knee in line with your hips at a 90-degree bend. Slowly press the right leg straight while at the same time bringing the left knee in. Continue to alternate slowly, keeping the feet hips distance apart, for 8 reps on each side.

Single Leg Sweep 

Start in a plank position, either on your hands or on your forearms, one glider under your right foot. Keeping your entire body still, sweep your right foot out towards the right about 45-degrees, then pull it back to center. Try to keep your hips level and square to the mat. Repeat 8 reps, then switch legs.

Double Knee Pull 

Start in a high plank position with a glider under each foot, feet hip distance apart. Pull both knees in, stopping in line with your hips at 90-degree, then press back to start. Keep your hips level, without sinking or lifting. Repeat for 8 reps.

Stay tuned for more to come from our Core of It All Series. And for more advice on toned abs, read tips for greater portion control and moves to flatten your stomach.

Stay tuned for more to come from our ab series, The Core of It All. And for more advice on toned abs, read tips for greater portion control and moves to flatten your stomach.