The six-pack of your dreams is only a plank or two away.
You probably know all about the plank and its effectiveness in flattening tummies, but how long the position should be held is usually unclear.
To get the best benefits of planking, holding three planks for 60 seconds a piece is ideal, according to Doug Sklar, a certified personal trainer and founder of PhilanthroFIT in New York City.
But if you’re inexperienced with the move, don’t take risks in the name of a slim waistline.
‘It’s OK to start with shorter sets and work up to 60 seconds,’ Sklar told Women’s Health.
‘Forcing yourself to hold a plank for an excessive amount of time can put a lot of strain on your lower back. As fatigue sets in, the lower back may start to arch. This is where you put yourself at risk for injury.’
Start slow; hold the plank for 10 seconds, relax for five to 10 seconds, then re-engage for another 10 seconds. Then repeat each set three to six times.
Shorter planking periods can still amount to a solid workout, so don’t worry that you’re wasting time:
‘You receive very similar strengthening benefits because you are engaging your muscles for the same amount of total time as if you just held the plank for 30 to 60 seconds without stopping,’ said Sklar.
If a one-minute plank is too easy, up the ante by contacting your abs, as well as squeezing your glutes and quads.
And don’t forget to mind your form – the benefits of planking can only be reaped by your entire body if you’re maintaining correct form.
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