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To plank or not to plank?

(20 Posts)
Hobbes8 Wed 01-Feb-17 22:19:21

Hi all,

I've been getting into exercise over the past few months after a quite a lengthy break. I've never been super fit or sporty, but I used to walk a lot and do some classes, but let it all slide when I had children. I've been doing some outdoor HIIT classes and started couch to 5k, and doing YouTube videos (30 day shred type stuff).

My stomach has always been the main problem area, and after two pregnancies and a couple of stone of weight gain it's a wobbly mess with no core strength. I downloaded a 30 day plank challenge app - starting at 5 seconds and going up by 5 seconds a day.

Someone at work suggested it wasn't a good idea to plank for longer than 30 seconds. Is that true? Is there a risk of doing it wrong?

And if not planks....what is good for core strength and stomach toning?

PovertyJetset Wed 01-Feb-17 22:20:07

Hmmm interesting, watching this

NotAUserNumberSoNotATroll Wed 01-Feb-17 22:27:33

Also following. I think it depends on your pelvic floor doesn't it? Keeping everything in?? blush

phoolani Wed 01-Feb-17 22:28:02

Planks can be problematic. They put a tremendous amount of strain on the chest/upper body which can be too much for someone not at sufficient fitness/strength levels. I'm pretty fit, but I got costochondritis because I over planked. Stick at 30 seconds for a good while, and progress by doing different things whilst you're planking (iyswim).

phoolani Wed 01-Feb-17 22:29:30

There is a ton of stuff which is just as effective at working the core without the risk of planks. YouTube is your friend here.

MorrisZapp Wed 01-Feb-17 22:31:29

Costco what? That sounds awful, I find planks agony and basically pointless because I can't hold the position.

I'd like a more back to basics approach in gym classes. I don't agree with all this planking.

phoolani Wed 01-Feb-17 22:40:03

Inflammation of the cartilage that joins your ribs to your breastbone. Not at all painful unless you move, laugh, cough or breathe, in which case it's excrutiating, almost unbelievable pain 😁
If you find you can't do them/are in pain, it's a clear indication that you shouldn't be doing them! They are very effective, but they're not for the unfit or beginners.

QueenMortificado Wed 01-Feb-17 22:42:02

I had a thread about planking not so long ago and I'm sure there was some link that said people should be able to plank for a minute

I decided I'd get going and try and up my plank time and can now do about 1 min 30 which isn't going to win any awards but is significantly better than about the 20 seconds I started on!

BIWI Wed 01-Feb-17 22:43:16

If you're only increasing it by 5 seconds a day, then you'll be building up your core strength gradually, which is a very good thing.

I don't know of any reason why you shouldn't go for longer than 30 seconds if you've been building up your fitness!

I start all my PT sessions (with my trainer) with a plank - after 5 minutes on the cross trainer - and routinely plank for 2-3 minutes as a warm up.

A minute-long plank at various points during a session is normal (along with variations on a theme - hip touches during planking and superman planks).

Hobbes8 Wed 01-Feb-17 22:44:30

Ouch! That sounds terrible. I haven't had too much trouble doing them until now (got up to 30 seconds) but maybe I'll give it a miss.

My upper body isn't great - I find lunges and other leg work much easier than press-ups, shoulder raises, etc.

Any good you tube recommendations? Should I just look for Pilates work outs? I've got a yogalates DVD somewhere which I could dig out.

Thanks for the responses - you might have saved me from a world of pain!

Hobbes8 Wed 01-Feb-17 22:45:41

Oops cross posted with some mixed messages. So perhaps continue them but don't ramp up the length too much?

notagiraffe Wed 01-Feb-17 22:48:16

This is so weird. I'm really unfit and yet I find plank easy. It's a break during HIIT. I can hold it for two minutes before it gets uncomfortable. Not boasting, as I can't do anything else with ease. Just never worked out what's hard about it.Beginning to think I must be doing it wrong.

QueenMortificado Wed 01-Feb-17 22:48:36

hip touches during planking

Hardest exercise in the fucking world! I'd take 100 commandos over those!

QueenMortificado Wed 01-Feb-17 22:49:46

My upper body isn't great - I find lunges and other leg work much easier than press-ups, shoulder raises, etc

This is exactly why you should be working out your upper body! Plyometric exercises that get your whole body working are great - burpees, push ups etc

phoolani Wed 01-Feb-17 22:54:55

Yes, I'd say that, Hobbes. I still plank (love a good plank!), but build it up it up slowly and combine it with other exercise to increase your upper body and core strength.

BIWI Wed 01-Feb-17 23:05:24

The hip touches are ok - it's the superman ones that kill me!

YourFace Thu 02-Feb-17 08:32:20

I have shit upper body strength too. Been working on it for ages. I can plank for a minute and side plank but press ups....I have finally progressed to being able to do a couple of crap ones, that don't involve being on my knees but I still can't get a full range of motion doing them.

If you want to work on your core/stomach , try leg extensions with a weight on your chest or in your hands, like this guy. A couple of minutes or so at the end of your work out could be enough.

AuntieStella Thu 02-Feb-17 09:25:20

I have sporty DC who sometimes follow a conditioning programme. The coaches use the plank occasionally, as a diagnostic rather than something they regularly train with.

I asked a while ago about exercises to whittle the waist, and posters put me in to the Fittness Blender YouTube channel (specifically standing abs, but there are many types and lengths of workouts there). Worth a look?

Hobbes8 Thu 02-Feb-17 22:25:38

Thanks I'll check that YouTube vid out - my waist could definitely use some whittling! Those leg extensions look good too.

queenmortificado Yes I definitely need to work on my upper body - I'm doing tricep dips, push ups (still on knees) and some exercises with hand held weights. Burpees are literally the worst part of my HIIT work outs but they're slowly getting easier.

I thought that phoolani was implying that a weak upper body made it more likely that I would injure myself doing planks, but I think I'll keep progressing both at the pace I'm doing and add in rest days and I should be ok.

Thanks everyone for their advice. As a novice and with so much conflicting advice and charlatan bonkersness out there I really appreciate it.

BIWI Fri 03-Feb-17 08:58:43

The thing is, the plank is designed to strengthen your core, which is a really important thing. Having a strong core will help you perform lots of other exercise well and safely, i.e. without injuring yourself.

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