Science Behind Planks

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    Oct 11, 2012 11:10 PM GMT
    Can someone explain to me how a plank works? Like how do they work the muscles and what not, I'm just curious about how effective they really are because I don't see much results from them.
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    Oct 12, 2012 2:15 AM GMT
    Maybe there's not that much to them because thank god the plank craze is dying down. My gym's stretch mats are less inundated this year with members doing planks that could've been performed anywhere than last.
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    Oct 12, 2012 2:30 AM GMT
    Planks are more for strengthening your core muscles so you can life heavier stuff without hurting your back. They're not much of a show-muscle exercise.

    Good nutrition will give you the show-muscles.
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    Oct 12, 2012 8:03 AM GMT
    Put a weight on your lower back/butt while you do them, you'll notice the burn.
  • GWriter

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    Oct 12, 2012 10:20 AM GMT
    SkittleGangsta saidPut a weight on your lower back/butt while you do them, you'll notice the burn.


    This ^
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    Oct 12, 2012 5:28 PM GMT
    Planks are an introductory exercise. Likely you do not see any strength increase because you are not doing them correctly.

    These should be done with full scapular protraction (pushing "up"/apart), arms 90 degrees to the shoulder, and feet about shoulder height with your glutes neither sagging nor piked up. Once you can do a couple correct minute-length sets, you need to move on to something more difficult.
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    Oct 12, 2012 5:42 PM GMT
    jockinaz saidPlanks are an introductory exercise. Likely you do not see any strength increase because you are not doing them correctly.

    These should be done with full scapular protraction (pushing "up"/apart), arms 90 degrees to the shoulder, and feet about shoulder height with your glutes neither sagging nor piked up. Once you can do a couple correct minute-length sets, you need to move on to something more difficult.


    I disagree that these are "introductory." Planks are excellent for building core stability. If you can do a few minute-length sets, start doing them for 1:30. They don't cease to be challenging. Even if you're putting up heavy weights or are sufficiently advanced in your lifting routine these are great for building your stabilizers and helping to avoid injury. I agree with the above posters though, these are not something you build to enhance your vanity muscles. The current world record is 1 hour, 20 minutes and 5 seconds. If you're only holding them for a minute, you have a way to go. icon_smile.gif
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    Oct 13, 2012 1:31 AM GMT
    SF79 said
    jockinaz saidPlanks are an introductory exercise. Likely you do not see any strength increase because you are not doing them correctly.

    These should be done with full scapular protraction (pushing "up"/apart), arms 90 degrees to the shoulder, and feet about shoulder height with your glutes neither sagging nor piked up. Once you can do a couple correct minute-length sets, you need to move on to something more difficult.


    I disagree that these are "introductory." Planks are excellent for building core stability. If you can do a few minute-length sets, start doing them for 1:30. They don't cease to be challenging. Even if you're putting up heavy weights or are sufficiently advanced in your lifting routine these are great for building your stabilizers and helping to avoid injury. I agree with the above posters though, these are not something you build to enhance your vanity muscles. The current world record is 1 hour, 20 minutes and 5 seconds. If you're only holding them for a minute, you have a way to go. icon_smile.gif


    Planks are the level of a 5 year old gymnast. That's introductory. When you train bodyweight, you progress by changing the lever or the neurological complexity once you've reached solid time under tension. A plank will only be challenging if you continue to not train something more difficult for your body to adapt to.

    Comparing it to weightlifting, it'd be like taking a 5lb dumbbell and continuing to add reps to your curl ad infinitum. You could do 200 curls, but it's far more efficient to add more weight (equiv. to changing bodyweight lever) once you've passed a rep scheme that produces meaningful results.
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    Oct 13, 2012 5:07 AM GMT
    dLIH7.jpg
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    Oct 13, 2012 5:41 AM GMT
    jockinaz said
    SF79 said
    jockinaz saidPlanks are an introductory exercise. Likely you do not see any strength increase because you are not doing them correctly.

    These should be done with full scapular protraction (pushing "up"/apart), arms 90 degrees to the shoulder, and feet about shoulder height with your glutes neither sagging nor piked up. Once you can do a couple correct minute-length sets, you need to move on to something more difficult.


    I disagree that these are "introductory." Planks are excellent for building core stability. If you can do a few minute-length sets, start doing them for 1:30. They don't cease to be challenging. Even if you're putting up heavy weights or are sufficiently advanced in your lifting routine these are great for building your stabilizers and helping to avoid injury. I agree with the above posters though, these are not something you build to enhance your vanity muscles. The current world record is 1 hour, 20 minutes and 5 seconds. If you're only holding them for a minute, you have a way to go. icon_smile.gif


    Planks are the level of a 5 year old gymnast. That's introductory. When you train bodyweight, you progress by changing the lever or the neurological complexity once you've reached solid time under tension. A plank will only be challenging if you continue to not train something more difficult for your body to adapt to.

    Comparing it to weightlifting, it'd be like taking a 5lb dumbbell and continuing to add reps to your curl ad infinitum. You could do 200 curls, but it's far more efficient to add more weight (equiv. to changing bodyweight lever) once you've passed a rep scheme that produces meaningful results.


    Planks are absolutely not introductory, it's just that 99% of people who you see doing them are not bracing their core correctly, and without that, there is little point performing them.

    Performed correctly, they are one of the most effective core exercises going. There are many progressions to a plank such as side planks, planks on bosu balls, etc....

    Correct that planks are not going to give you killer 8 packs. They can certainly build the foundation to then do that though.
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    Oct 13, 2012 6:04 AM GMT
    OneSongGlory saidCan someone explain to me how a plank works? Like how do they work the muscles and what not, I'm just curious about how effective they really are because I don't see much results from them.


    lol why don't you ask this girl?







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    Oct 13, 2012 7:23 AM GMT
    [quote]Planks are absolutely not introductory, it's just that 99% of people who you see doing them are not bracing their core correctly, and without that, there is little point performing them.

    Performed correctly, they are one of the most effective core exercises going. There are many progressions to a plank such as side planks, planks on bosu balls, etc....

    Correct that planks are not going to give you killer 8 packs. They can certainly build the foundation to then do that though.[/quote]


    Can you give me a real reason why they are not introductory? Planks use a very low % of bodyweight, have an advantageous mechanical lever, and use muscles in an isometric fashion. That's not hugely demanding on the body.

    Again, in terms of using your bodyweight for training, that's equivalent to sticking with a pink dumbbell. Pushups/Planks/"core" exercises/etc are nice, but are not sufficient to get significant growth. Would you expect a regular pushup to develop enough strength for a double bodyweight bench press? Of course not, but it's an introductory step along the way.Same deal with planks and higher progressions for the core.

    What I'm trying to drive home is that if you stick with planks for more than a couple months, no matter the variation, you are missing the benefits from doing exercises that provide more bang for the buck to your core and your shoulder girdle. The body is lazy and won't adapt unless you continue to give it harder challenges. A side plank or bosu plank simply isn't enough of a step up to get to the next level.
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    Oct 13, 2012 7:28 AM GMT
    Because you have to brace the core and most people cannot do that properly, even though they think they are. Sucking your stomach in is not bracing the core.

    It has nothing to do with bodyweight and comparisons with resistance exercises are completely irrelevant
  • Medjai

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    Oct 13, 2012 7:32 AM GMT
    There is a lot of research backing the benefit of planks and other core stabilizing exercises. Since the core is primarily designed to stabilize as opposed to move weight, exercises that emphasize that type of contraction are the most effective for building core stability. Planks, walk outs, ab rollers, and my favorite, GHD sit-ups, are all examples of this.

    Planks and variations are excellent exercises for all fitness levels. Do them. Seriously.
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    Oct 13, 2012 7:58 AM GMT
    Planks are an isometic contraction of the abdominal muscles and spine muscles as well as your lats and tris for support. You're not gonna get thicker abs unless you add weight doing ab exercises. I prefer to use the machine or a pulley and get them done faster. My abs will never look like magazine abs because I lack the genetics for them, but they're hella thick if you were here to touch them.

    I don't find them necessary to do, so I agree with people who say they are an introductory exercise for people who haven't exercised much before and do not strengthen those muscles using weights in the weight room (deadlifts, ab machines, back extensions, oblique machines).

    The only time I do stuff close to a plank is when I'm preping to try push-to-handstand motion. That's more of a planche though, which is way harder than a plank because you move the fulcrum and weight around to a mechanical disadvantage. Also, a pushup is a plank when done correctly, and I do do pushups some days as a circuit.

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    Oct 13, 2012 8:19 AM GMT
    Trollileo said
    FitSportsman saidCorrect that planks are not going to give you killer 8 packs. They can certainly build the foundation to then do that though.
    Are abs all people care about?


    No. I'd rather have great all round core strenght because I'm a runner.