What’s the best exercise you can do to strengthen your core?
For many people, the answer seems obvious – “The best core exercise is obviously the plank!” And, it makes sense that this is such a popular response. Planking has become synonymous with core training because of the potential benefits this one exercise can offer.
But wait, there’s more.
So let’s all start doing more planks, right? Not so fast.
1. Using Proper Technique is Harder Than It Looks.
One of the draws to using a plank for core conditioning is the seeming simplicity of it. Drop onto your elbows and hold your body off the floor for as long as you can. What could be easier?
Check out the infographic below to get a better sense of how technical a plank can really be. Exercisers often miss these key points and therefore sacrifice many of the benefits a good plank can offer.
2. Holding a Longer Plank Isn’t Always Better.
Holding a plank for long periods of time has become a bit of a badge of honour in the fitness community. If you can hold a 3-minute plank then you (and everyone you tell) can be sure that your core is really strong.
3. It Doesn’t Train Your Core For Real Life Movements.
Even though you’re not physically moving, your muscles still have to contract to fight against gravity, otherwise you’ll face-plant into the floor! Training isometrically will help you increase your core strength, but just how practical is that strength?
When do you ever hold a plank position in real life? Even if you’re an athlete, how does a plank translate into performance?
4. Planking Can Be Dangerous For Your Lower Back.
Here’s what a lordotic curve looks like. Take a look around the gym and you will likely be able to spot exercisers who are experiencing this during their planks.
5. It’s Just Not As Effective As Other Exercises.
Again, it goes back to the isometric nature of the plank. Holding a static position cannot recruit as many muscles, or recruit muscles to the same degree, as exercises that combine various movements and different muscle contractions.
So which core exercise is best?