Chiselled abs and a flat belly aren’t just achieved with complicated workouts at the gym; you can also get a strong core with simple exercises. This article shows you how you can strengthen your core with plank exercises.
When I was overweight, I used to have a bulging tummy. It used to bug me for a long time. But it started to become a real issue when I heard the following story from the life of Umar (RA):
One day, a man with a big belly came to Umar bin Al-Khattab (RA). Umar, being who he is, asked the man about his belly, “What is this?”.
The man proudly replied, “It’s a blessing from Allah!”.
Umar said, “No, indeed, it’s a punishment from Allah!”1
This story sounds simple, but it’s not. The man’s belly isn’t a sign of wealth like he thinks it is. It’s an indication of his lifestyle: extravagant and careless. His belly shows that he not only doesn’t care about others, but also about himself.
Needless to say, this story had a big impact on me. I started working hard to get rid of my tummy. I also started to pray to Allah for forgiveness. I truly felt that it was kind of a punishment from Allah (SWT).
Besides the spiritual and cosmetic reasons to getting rid of belly fat, visceral fat is the most dangerous type of fat. It’s the underlining cause of many types of diseases.
So, I’d like to share with you how planks helped me lose my belly fat.
But before I begin, I need to make a big disclaimer. No single exercise can simply turn your tummy into a flat one. Along with nutrition and lifestyle changes, you need to have a regular exercise regimen. But what adding the plank to your daily routine will do is have an impact, not just on your tummy, but also on your overall physique.
What’s a Plank and Why Is It Effective?
A plank is a simple and easy bodyweight exercise; anyone can do it. So regardless of your age, gender or location, you can start doing this exercise every day.
They’re also some of the most effective exercises you can do to improve your core muscle groups. And research shows that abdominal muscles are better trained with integrated core exercises such as planks than with popular isolation exercises like sit-ups and crunches.
Definition of Core Muscles
Many people believe that the core muscle group comprises of just the four, six, or eight muscles that are visible in the stomach region. But your core includes the abdominals, lower back and hip muscles as well!
Unlike sit-ups and crunches, planks not only improve your core, but they also improve your performance, posture and flexibility.
4 Remarkable Benefits of Plank Exercises
Here are four remarkable reasons to add planks to your daily workout regimen.
#1. Planks strengthen your core
The standard plank is one of the few workouts that engages all your major core muscle groups. When you do a plank, you’re in fact training a whole lot of major muscle groups, such as:
- Lower back
- Thighs, and
So, working out those muscles groups regularly leads to a strong core. And a strong core translates to a toned belly.
#2. Planks reduce back pain
The modern day working environment is a key cause of back pain. Most office workers sit all day long and with a bad posture. And this, of course, is a recipe for lower-back pain.
Apart from your regular workout plan, you need to include core-strengthening exercises like planks to reduce back pain.
They almost magically reduce lower back pain because upper and lower back muscles are also trained when you engage in planks.
#3. Planks improve your posture
Another aspect that ties in with back pain is, as I’ve mentioned, posture. A visible result of your strengthened core is better posture. In fact, you can identify a person’s core strength just by looking at his or her posture.
Improved posture also benefits you in your day-to-day life because you’ll find it easier to sit or stand straighter.
#4. Planks improve your flexibility
Since planks train and stretch a lot of major muscle groups, you’re also improving your flexibility.
As you become more flexible, you’ll also have better coordination and body movements. Your body won’t feel as stiff, and you’ll feel more comfortable.
How to Do a Standard Plank
There are tons of different planks, but the focus of this article is the standard plank. Please see the video below. It provides an in-depth illustration of a plank. If you’re a beginner, follow the recommended repetition as explained in the video.
Measure Your Core Strength
The plank exercise is an easy way to measure your core strength. If you can hold the plank position for at least three minutes without allowing your hips to raise or dip, it means your core strength is excellent.
If you can’t even hold it for two minutes, it’s an indication that you may carry too much weight around your waist and that it’s time to get rid of your excess body fat.
1 Mu’jum ash-Shuyookh of as-Subki, vol. 1, p. 531