Some days it’s nearly impossible to squeeze in a workout. You may try hitting the gym after work, but even when your evening looks wide open, a happy hour or dinner date often pops up. Early morning workouts aren’t any easier. Here’s where your life-saver comes in.
So what is it? The answer is … the plank. The Darebee plank variation is one of the most effective bodyweight routines you can do — and it only takes five minutes. It combines the traditional plank, elbow plank, side plank, and raised leg plank to give you a full workout with noticeable results in a short timespan. It’s the perfect substitute if you can’t clock a full hour at the gym. Do the work and reap the following benefits.
1. Improved core definition
Planks strengthen every core muscle group including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominus, the external oblique muscle, and the glutes. Sounds too technical? Here’s a breakdown: a stronger transverse abdominus allows you to lift heavier weights, the rectus abdominus improves overall sports performance and is responsible for your six-pack, the obliques provide the ability to twist and bend, and the glutes keep your back strong and butt tight.
2. Better posture
When you sit over a keyboard for eight hours a day, it can be easy to develop a less-than-desirable hunched over posture. Planks do more than strengthen your core and abs — they build up your back, chest, shoulders, and neck, which pushes your shoulders back and opens your chest. In addition, the core strength you get from planks supports you when you need to stand or sit up straight for long periods of time.
3. Ramped up metabolism
Not only does the plank burn more calories than any other traditional abdominal workout, but the benefits don’t end when your five-minute workout is over. The muscles you build while planking increase your metabolism, an effect that lasts all day. This means that even while you’re sitting at your desk or grabbing a beer with friends, you’re burning more energy than normal.
4. Increased flexibility
You may not be a yogi, but flexibility is an important part of any fitness routine. Improved flexibility guards against injury, maintains mobility, and even enhances performance in aerobic training and muscular conditioning. The plank expands and stretches various muscles around your shoulders, shoulder blades, and collarbone. When your thighs are lifted off the ground, your hamstrings lengthen and the arches of your feet get a nice stretch. The side plank mixes things up by stretching out your oblique muscles on the sides of the body. It’s a win all around.