04 Dec The Best Exercise for Bullet Proof Abs?
One of the most important exercises for building a strong core and a lean midsection is the plank exercise. If you’ve done planks before, then you know exactly how challenging this simple exercise really is.
Let me break it down for you and provide some rationale as to why this is one the most important abdominal and functional core strengthening exercise there is.
The plank is basically a total body isometric contraction, in which you hold your body muscles tight, while being in a face down position on the floor. You are propping yourself on your elbows with your legs fully extended. The key to this is keeping a tight midsection, as well as tight lower body musculature. There should be tightness in your abs, low back, upper back, glutes, hamstrings, and quads. You are really squeezing everything so that there is a total body tension in this position. And your spine should be totally straight, from you low back (lumbar region) to you neck (cervical region). This should be a straight line from your feet to the top of your head.
Additionally, you’ll have about a 90 degree angle at the shoulder joints, as you’re propped on your elbows. This is also fantastic for shoulder joint stability and constant tension on the shoulder joint musculature, specifically the rotator cuff muscles, as these muscles are firing to keep your upper body in a stable position.
Why is this such a beneficial exercise? If you compare doing this exercise versus that of an abdominal crunch, which do you think is better for your abs? If you answered crunches, let me ask you how often you flex your rib cage during daily activities?
Not very often I’m sure, even for most athletes, this is not a functional movement. However, we constantly tense or brace our abdominal wall during activities, functional tasks, or sports. The plank best translates into functional movement patterns, where the abdominal crunch does not. This is why this exercise is so important and a great foundation to core strengthening and training. Not only is this movement important for performance, but it’s also important for injury prevention and avoidance of back pain and dysfunction.
The plank, and plank variations, are highly important in building strong core musculature, stabilizing the spine, and improving trunk muscular endurance, a key factor in injury prevention. Now, if getting that lean, muscular stomach is your goal, this will be significantly enhanced by sound nutrition principles, as well as the correct exercise selection, such as the plank. The plank is a tremendous exercise for building a rock solid midsection and bullet proof abs, it should be considered as a requirement in every total body strengthening and conditioning program.
If your just starting out, try to hold the plank position for up to 30 seconds and try to increase by 10 seconds or more each session as you gain muscular stability and endurance, working your way up to 2 minutes or better. You’ll be amazed how hard this is and how you can have rather dramatic results with this exercise. This may be one of the most important exercises you’ll ever do, so keep that in mind.
Now, go plank your way to a lean, strong stomach and functionally strong core that will really allow you to perform better and prevent potential injuries, such as debilitating low back pain. A great exercise to bullet proof your abs!