From 3rd May (May Day Bank Holiday) to 29th May (Spring Bank Holiday) we have put together a 26 day PLANK HOLIDAY challenge for you all to try.

If our duraction suggestions are too easy or too difficult, just take away 10 seconds, or add 10 seconds, depending on your current fitness level.

1 Plank more There’s never a truer adage than practice makes perfect. The first plank for a newbie planker might seem like a form of torture, but after a week or two, you’ll be casually busting out a minute without breaking a sweat. While many challenges recommend a daily plank, personal trainer Stuart Amory says to take a rest day every third day, otherwise you could end up with stiff muscles that could impact upon your other exercise. Add 10 to 15 seconds to your time each day, pausing on a time for an extra day or two if you’re really struggling. 2 Turn the watch over so you can’t see it count down There’s nothing more demoralising than watching those seconds tick by in the s l o o o o o o o o o w e s t possible way. Set an alarm so you will know when you’re done and occupy your mind with something else. If you must peek to see if the torture highly beneficial exercise is nearly over, flip it over quickly, have a peek, then flip it back. MORE : Here’s how to stop wasting your workout by only doing half press-ups 3 Read an article in a magazine, paper or online Stick it right there in front of your face and get absorbed. Make sure it’s long enough or it will be an exercise in frustration when you finish and have to read it over again. Some sites have the times it takes to read an article at the top – two minutes reads, three minute reads – but before long you’ll get an idea of how long it might take you to read an article of a certain length. 4 Count down backwards in your head, really slowly Anything to distract the mind and override the voices in your head that for some wild reason do not want you to plank. Other tricks are to recite the alphabet or say nursery rhymes over and over in your head. 5 Do it until it hurts, then hold for 30 seconds more When we say hurts, we mean the ‘good’ sort of pain – the suffering that comes from exertion – not twinges in your lower back or joint pain. 6 When your timer goes off, go for another ten seconds PT Stuart Amory (find him here on Twitter) once chided me for this, saying if I can hold a plank for 2m 10s I should be setting my timer for that time – always pushing myself as far as I can, not randomly picking a time then realising I can actually do more. But for me, psychologically, I like the idea that despite the timer having gone off, I’ve found the mental power to push myself a bit further than I ‘needed’ to. It gives me a sense of achievement that spurs me on. Then once I’ve done 10 seconds, I’ll try to push for 20 more, or 30 more. It games it for me and makes me dread it less. MORE : 6 things that happen to your body if you don’t exercise 7 Throw in some side planks Just when you think you can plank no more, turn on to your side and bust out a side plank. It’ll feel like such sweet, sweet relief after your one or two minutes in front plank that you won’t even notice the seconds go by. Turn over to do the other side, and before you know it, you’ll have planked for three to four minutes in total. Those side planks will help strengthen some of the same muscle groups but will be supported by others, meaning you can do a four minute set where you wouldn’t be able to do a four minute front plank – and it will lead to a longer front plank in the long run. Promise. 8 Make your planks dynamic Push up on to your hands, right, then left into press-up position, then lower yourself back down on to the elbows. Then swap sides and go up first on left then right. Insert 10 on either side into your usual plank time. You’ll find that you can do the usual plank time PLUS those raises, because it gives certain muscles a brief rest – yet you’re still taxing them (and some). Basically, be more like this guy: Dynamic planking guy (Source: Equinox.com) 9 Play a song you know is the length of your ideal plank Another tip from fond planker Stuart Amory. Blur’s Song 2 is exactly 2 minutes, since you’re asking. 10 Play a planking game Yes really. Make planking ‘fun’. We have Amory to blame for this one (if you want to get an idea of what Amory is like, let me just say the man probably has a burpees game too). ‘Work with a partner or group and play the name game,’ he says. ‘Plank and take it in turn to name a boy’s or a girl’s name with each letter of the alphabet. Say one each then move down the alphabet. 11 Relaaaaaaaax Breathe in then take a long, slow breath out to relax. It will mean you’re not as tight and tense and time will fly by. 12 Do plank mini-sets To increase your plank PB take your best time and divide it by four, says Amory. Then do that number 6 times with a 15 sec gap between each one. For example: 60 sec PB. 60 / 4 = 15. 15 sec plank x 6 with 15 seconds rest between each set. 13 Imagine someone is going to kick you in the stomach Yes really. It will help you focus get your ab muscles working more effectively which will ultimately give you the gains to hold the plank for longer. 14 Plank in front of a mirror …to maintain the perfect straight line between heels and shoulders. Because: A) better form = a longer lasting (safer) plank. And: B) you’re a beautiful thing, you.


Read more: https://metro.co.uk/2016/02/05/14-ways-to-hold-a-longer-plank-5663791/?ito=cbshare

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MetroUK | Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MetroUK/

Top Planking Tips & Advice

Also Known As: Hover exercise, front plank

Targets: Abdominals and core muscles

Level: Beginner
The plank is an excellent abdominal and core exercise. It works not only the rectus abdominis, but also the other ab muscles and the core muscles that run from the pelvis along the spine and up to the shoulder girdle. To ensure you keep your core strong and stable, add some regular planks to your regular fitness regime. 

Benefits

Stengthening the core is an important aspect of any workout programme. Not only does a strong and solid core look good, but more importantly, it helps to stabilize, balance, and power the body during just about every other activity. Core strength is the basis for all coordinated and powerful athletic movements. A strong core can reduce stress on the joints and allow you to achieve better posture. The plank exercise can be used as the basis for a core muscle strength and stabilty test. The plank is more of a strength-building exercise than a cardio exercise, but by engaging a range of muscles it does boost your calorie burn a bit. How many calories burned depends on your weight and how long you hold the plank. Typically, a 150-pound individual will burn about 3 calories a minute holding a plank.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Select a place where you can extend your whole body length. Using an exercise mat will give you enough padding to be comfortable on all fours.

  • Begin in the plank position, face down with your forearms and toes on the floor. Your elbows are directly under your shoulders and your forearms are facing forward. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
  • Engage your abdominal muscles, drawing your navel toward your spine. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending. This is the neutral spine position. Ensure your shoulders are down, not creeping up toward your ears. Your heels should be over the balls of your feet.
  • Hold this position for 10 seconds. Release to floor
  • Over time work up to 30, 45, or 60 seconds.

Common Mistakes

Avoid these errors to get the most out of this exercise and to avoid strain or injury.

Arching Your Back

If you arch your back you are not engaging your abdominals sufficiently and you are putting more of the weight onto your arms. Check to be sure you are keeping your shoulders down and wide.

Sagging Hips

Your hips will start sinking once your abs have reached their fatigue limit. That's a sign it's time to end your plank. If it seems your hips are sagging from the beginning, try separating your feet a bit wider and focus on engaging your abs

Tilting Head Up

Your neck should be in line with your body, not tilted up, which could strain the neck. Keep your gaze down at the floor.

Modifications and Variations

There are several variations of the plank that further work the core muscles to build strength and stability. As well, there are ways to modify it if you are a beginner.

Need a Modification?

If you find the plank difficult at first, try doing it with knees bent, taking the pressure off of your feet. You could also do an incline plank with forearms resting on a bench.

Plank With Leg Lift

In order to perform a plank with a leg lift, start in the same plank position as above with your forearms and toes on the floor.

  1. Slowly raise one leg 5 to 8 inches off the floor
  2. Count to two and slowly lower your leg to the floor.
  3. Switch legs and repeat.
  4. Do two to three sets of 10 reps.
To make this exercise a bit easier, you can perform the movement on your hands rather than your elbows.

Plank With Arm Lift

Another way to add variety to the basic plank is to add an arm lift. To perform a planl with an arm lift, follow these steps:
  1. Start in the same plank position as above.
  2. Carefully shift your weight to your right forearm.
  3. Extend your left arm straight out in front of you.
  4. Hold for three seconds while keeping your core tight.
  5. Slowly bring your arm back to starting position.
  6. Switch arms and repeat.
  7. Do two to three sets of 10 reps.

Sets of Shorter Planks

Rather than doing a single plank for 30 seconds or more, some exercise routines say there are good benefits for doing a 10- to 15-second plank, resting for 30 seconds, and doing three to five sets. Your total time spent in the plank in an exercise session should be 60 seconds or less.

Safety and Precautions

You should not do planks if you have a shoulder injury. If you feel shoulder pain, end the exercise. In pregnancy, there is a concern for placing stress on the abdominal wall. It may be best to modify the plank and do a side plank or an incline plank. Talk to your doctor or physical therapist to see if this is an appropriate exercise.

1 Plank more There’s never a truer adage than practice makes perfect. The first plank for a newbie planker might seem like a form of torture, but after a week or two, you’ll be casually busting out a minute without breaking a sweat. While many challenges recommend a daily plank, personal trainer Stuart Amory says to take a rest day every third day, otherwise you could end up with stiff muscles that could impact upon your other exercise. Add 10 to 15 seconds to your time each day, pausing on a time for an extra day or two if you’re really struggling. 2 Turn the watch over so you can’t see it count down There’s nothing more demoralising than watching those seconds tick by in the s l o o o o o o o o o w e s t possible way. Set an alarm so you will know when you’re done and occupy your mind with something else. If you must peek to see if the torture highly beneficial exercise is nearly over, flip it over quickly, have a peek, then flip it back. MORE : Here’s how to stop wasting your workout by only doing half press-ups 3 Read an article in a magazine, paper or online Stick it right there in front of your face and get absorbed. Make sure it’s long enough or it will be an exercise in frustration when you finish and have to read it over again. Some sites have the times it takes to read an article at the top – two minutes reads, three minute reads – but before long you’ll get an idea of how long it might take you to read an article of a certain length. 4 Count down backwards in your head, really slowly Anything to distract the mind and override the voices in your head that for some wild reason do not want you to plank. Other tricks are to recite the alphabet or say nursery rhymes over and over in your head. 5 Do it until it hurts, then hold for 30 seconds more When we say hurts, we mean the ‘good’ sort of pain – the suffering that comes from exertion – not twinges in your lower back or joint pain. 6 When your timer goes off, go for another ten seconds PT Stuart Amory (find him here on Twitter) once chided me for this, saying if I can hold a plank for 2m 10s I should be setting my timer for that time – always pushing myself as far as I can, not randomly picking a time then realising I can actually do more. But for me, psychologically, I like the idea that despite the timer having gone off, I’ve found the mental power to push myself a bit further than I ‘needed’ to. It gives me a sense of achievement that spurs me on. Then once I’ve done 10 seconds, I’ll try to push for 20 more, or 30 more. It games it for me and makes me dread it less. MORE : 6 things that happen to your body if you don’t exercise 7 Throw in some side planks Just when you think you can plank no more, turn on to your side and bust out a side plank. It’ll feel like such sweet, sweet relief after your one or two minutes in front plank that you won’t even notice the seconds go by. Turn over to do the other side, and before you know it, you’ll have planked for three to four minutes in total. Those side planks will help strengthen some of the same muscle groups but will be supported by others, meaning you can do a four minute set where you wouldn’t be able to do a four minute front plank – and it will lead to a longer front plank in the long run. Promise. 8 Make your planks dynamic Push up on to your hands, right, then left into press-up position, then lower yourself back down on to the elbows. Then swap sides and go up first on left then right. Insert 10 on either side into your usual plank time. You’ll find that you can do the usual plank time PLUS those raises, because it gives certain muscles a brief rest – yet you’re still taxing them (and some). Basically, be more like this guy: Dynamic planking guy (Source: Equinox.com) 9 Play a song you know is the length of your ideal plank Another tip from fond planker Stuart Amory. Blur’s Song 2 is exactly 2 minutes, since you’re asking. 10 Play a planking game Yes really. Make planking ‘fun’. We have Amory to blame for this one (if you want to get an idea of what Amory is like, let me just say the man probably has a burpees game too). ‘Work with a partner or group and play the name game,’ he says. ‘Plank and take it in turn to name a boy’s or a girl’s name with each letter of the alphabet. Say one each then move down the alphabet. 11 Relaaaaaaaax Breathe in then take a long, slow breath out to relax. It will mean you’re not as tight and tense and time will fly by. 12 Do plank mini-sets To increase your plank PB take your best time and divide it by four, says Amory. Then do that number 6 times with a 15 sec gap between each one. For example: 60 sec PB. 60 / 4 = 15. 15 sec plank x 6 with 15 seconds rest between each set. 13 Imagine someone is going to kick you in the stomach Yes really. It will help you focus get your ab muscles working more effectively which will ultimately give you the gains to hold the plank for longer. 14 Plank in front of a mirror …to maintain the perfect straight line between heels and shoulders. Because: A) better form = a longer lasting (safer) plank. And: B) you’re a beautiful thing, you.


Read more: https://metro.co.uk/2016/02/05/14-ways-to-hold-a-longer-plank-5663791/?ito=cbshare

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MetroUK | Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MetroUK/