Lockdown was tough for everyone. Apart from the financial and emotional chaos it created, many people were also affected physically and mentally. Nevertheless, I was also one of those people.
Sitting at home in front of my laptop all day, trying to meet the work deadlines, I didn’t realize when my lifestyle became dangerously stagnant. Even when I wasn’t working, I had limited choices in terms of physical activity. I could not go out for a walk, I could definitely not hit the gym, and my only favorite physical exercise, swimming, was out of the limit too. So instead, I lay on my bed binge-watching Netflix all day. Yes, you guessed it right. As a result, I started putting on weight.
Slight weight gain has never been an issue for me. As our girl, Meghan Trainor, said, “And no I won’t be a stick-figure, silicone Barbie doll,” and I agree with her. But the real problem started when my body began to get in the way of my daily chores.
Even after taking a 9-hour sleep, I felt too tired to leave the bed in the morning. A simple task like climbing the stairs got so tiresome that I had to think ten times before doing it.
That’s when one of my friends suggested I should try doing planks. She is a gym instructor, so of course, I took her advice and started doing planks for 1 minute daily. It was hard to hold the position for an entire minute initially, but with practice comes perfection.
Here is what I observed after doing planks every day for a month;
1. It increases the core strength
Planks are an ideal workout for the abdominal muscles as they engage and strengthen all major core muscle groups. After practicing them, I realized I could lift heavier weights much more easily than before. I noticed my belly started getting toned, and six-packs became visible. My glutes strengthened, giving me a supported back and firm buttocks.
2. Absolutely, increased flexibility
Here’s a fun fact, flexibility is not just obtained by stretching your body to its limits but also by performing resistance exercises. While holding my body in the plank position, I could feel the stretch on all of my abs and leg muscles. Planks have definitely increased my flexibility. Indeed, it’s an excellent strength and stretching exercise, and that makes it an all-rounder.
3. Makes better coordination.
Have you tried standing on one leg? Well, I did, and I couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds. It’s not because I was clumsy, but rather because my muscles lacked the coordination required to maintain balance.
While doing planks, all my postural muscles had to work together to hold the position.
And as mentioned before, it also strengthened my core. Together all this trained my body and muscles to coordinate and work as a single unit to help me maintain balance in physically exhausting situations for longer times.
4. It works as a mood-booster.
Imagine sitting in your chair all day long. You can feel the tightness in the thigh muscles, even the legs get heavy from being bent for several hours, and tension developing in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day.
Now here is a thing that many people don’t know. Stress on muscles equals the pressure on nerves, which results in a stressed mood.
Planks stretch out muscle groups and nerves that contribute to stress and tension in the body. As a result, I got an instant mood boost.
Not only that. With daily practice, I observed that my anxiety symptoms got less severe. And I’ve heard planks can also calm symptoms of depression; the only condition is that you have to make it a part of your daily routine.
5. Better posture.
Poor posture not only hurts but is terrible for your health.
While doing the planks, I felt like I was standing horizontally. It required staying upright and tall with shoulders back, and the stomach pulled in. The bones and joints were in correct alignment. This improved the overall working of my muscles, helping me develop a good posture and a confident personality overall.
6. Helps in weight loss
As I said earlier, weight wasn’t an issue for me until it started getting in the way of my daily tasks.
Planking regularly challenged the strength of my core muscles, which made sure I burned calories on a day-to-day basis. Having strong muscles offer an added benefit because they allow the body to burn extra calories even at rest.
This gym instructor friend of mine also gave me some very insightful tips (God bless her!) that I am going to share with you:
1. Planking every day will ensure that your metabolism rate remains high, which will, in turn, help with weight loss.
2. Practicing reverse planks correctly will strengthen the core muscles and lead to more defined abs.
3. Being a bodyweight and resistance exercise, planks work incredibly well for the formation of new bone tissues instantly.
4. Planks release endorphins, the body’s feel-good chemicals, that relieve all your stress and put you in a better mood.
5. Try holding on to the plank position for a longer time to achieve a more muscular back definition.
6. If you want to challenge your glutes to the maximum, try leg raise planks.