Planks Are A Functional Pilates Movement That Builds Core Strength
Planks are a functional movement that build core strength for every day activities, hence a reason to love them! Planks along with Lunges, Squats, Bridging + Trunk Integration make up the 5 functional movements found in our Pilates repertoire. We will explore the others in upcoming articles.
Planks Build Full Body Strength
Nothing gets you stronger faster than a plank and the Pilates repertoire has plenty of plank variations. Pilates planks are unique as most Pilates planks are dynamic or moving planks on the Pilates reformer, chair, and cadillac but static within mat based classes.
Plank variations include planks kneeling, straight legs, side planks, side planks with a twist and a Pilates Plank TRX version I created using a yoga sling working against gravity. All of these plank variations help to build full body strength in both front and back body.
Pilates Plank Exercises
- Long Stretch
- Up Stretch
- Down Stretch
- Control Balance
- Side Plank
- Snake + Twist Pilates Plank, Side Plank, Pike + Plank, & Single leg Pike + Plank TRX with yoga sling
Muscular Benefits of Planking
- Deep Core Transverse Abdominals, Rectus Abdominals + Internal Obliques;
- Pectorals (chest), Biceps, Triceps + Deltoids(shoulders);
- Low, Mid + Upper Back Spinal Erectors, Splenius Cervicis (cervical neck muscles that support the head), Serratus, Rhomboids + Latissimus Dorsi, Quadradus Lumborum, Iliacus;
- THASS (glutes/hamstrings), Adductors (inner thighs), Quads (front thigh), TFL (Tensor Fascia Lata), Tibialus Anterior
- Improves Posture and Core Strength
Front Body Benefits
Planks are great to strengthen and stabilize the anterior chain or front body. One of the top and most renowned benefits of doing planks regularly is that they strengthen the core, specifically the Transverse Abdominals the deepest layer of abdominals which fires the pelvic floor automatically creating stability for your low back.
The Pectoralis Major or chest muscles engage as you protract your shoulders pressing your hands into the carriage, Push Thru Bar, Chair Peddle or mat, keeping the torso parallel to the mat. This draws your shoulder blades away from each other, towards the front of your rib cage, stabilizing your shoulders.
Back Body Benefits
Planks are one of the few core exercises that also strengthens the posterior chain or back body. In particular, the upper back muscles become stronger, shoulders and arms get more toned, and the lower back becomes more stable and supported. This is one of the reasons why plank exercises are often prescribed to people with low back pain.
The muscles around your shoulder blades and rib cage called Serratus Anterior serve as a postural role for your upper body, and planking enages the Serratus Anterior, keeping your shoulder blades on your back, where they belong! This takes hand to back connection, engaging your front body to your back body with the Serratus Anterior muscles.
Executing a Plank, the Serratus Anterior muscles help with good shoulder positioning or as we often say in Pilates “shoulder girdle stability”. Without shoulder stability, clients suffer from neck and shoulder tension, built up from poor posture, excessive sitting, and poor shoulder movement patterns.
Serratus Anterior, when properly engaged with the Rhomboids has these protective features
- Protracts your shoulders preventing “winging” of your shoulders blades;
- Helps keep your shoulder blades down, avoiding neck tension or pain;
- Helps you to hold good posture;
- Aids in respiration allowing for an open de-compressed rib cage
During a Plank, the THASS engages where your thigh meets your glute and hamstring supporting your trunk or torso, low back and on upwards to your shoulders and neck. If you connect your big toe joints and heels you will also fire your adductors or inner thighs for even further leg support in a Plank. The adductors also engage in side Planks.
PLANKS IMPROVE YOUR POSTURE AND OVERALL BALANCE
While holding plank you are working the muscles that help make holding a neutral spine possible. A neutral spine can better support the entire body so that we are not compensating with only few muscle groups and the weight of your body travels through the center of your joints- the MAIN reason to LOVE Planks!