prefix='og: http://ogp.me/ns# fb: http://graph.facebook.com/schema/og/ article: http://graph.facebook.com/schema/og/article'> 2017 - Strong Muscle

Poundstone Power: Eat Clean, Get Jacked

Nutrition tips from the strongest man with a six-pack Derek Poundstone

Bent-Over Barbell Row vs. Old Fashioned T-Bar Row

Both moves work the back, but which move is better at targeting the lower lats

7 Tips From a World Class Squatter

Inflate your wheels with these strategies from a man who specializes in squatting bar-bending loads

6 Tips for a Ripped Six-Pack

Stop neglecting your abs training. These six strategies will help you retool your training to get the midsection you want

4 Moves to Bring Your Biceps to New Heights

Add some elevation to your cannons with these targeted bicep exercises

4 Exercises to Target Your Lower Abs


To learn how to work your lower abs read this article. I will show you some of the most effective ab exercises that will target your lower abs. Doing hundreds of crunches a day will not work. You do not even have to buy any expensive equipment you see advertised on TV

Hanging Knee Raises- Targeting Lower Abs


Start by grabbing a hold on a pull up bar. Keep your body straight. Then lift your knees up to touch your chest and bring them back down again. That is one rep. These are really effective for working your lower abs since you will be hanging

Swiss Ball Pull Ins


You will need an exercise ball for these. They are very effective for not just your lower abdominals but for your working your core muscles. Start by getting into a push up position but rest your shins on the ball. Then pull in the ball until your knees touch your chest and push back out to complete the rep

Reverse Crunches


These are a very effective upgrade to basic crunches on the floor. Lay on your back and lift your legs up in the air. Bend your knees to the point where the lower part of your legs are parallel to the floor. Then bring your knees back to touch your chest and forward again

By using these effective ab exercises you will get sore at first. But that is when you know you have worked them well. It takes practice but this is how to work your lower abs for great effect

Forearm Side Plank


How to: From your side, place your forearm on the ground, elbow in line with shoulder and other hand on your hip. Stagger your feet and lift your hips up so your body is in a straight diagonal line. Hold this position for 30 seconds, then switch sides. Planks work the deep inner muscles of your abdominal wall, helping to keep your trunk stable

6 Cable Row Blunders and how you can fix them


Here are some things that can go wrong during this popular seated row, and how you can fix them

You'd think the seated cable row was about as simple as it gets: All you have to do is sit on a bench, grab the handle, and pull like hell. It turns out there are a lot of ways you can mess up this movement and miss out on some of its benefits. Here are the biggest culprits. Find yours and solve it now

You're Leaning Too Much

The cable row is a multi-joint exercise, but one of the joints you shouldn't be recruiting is your hips. You bring your hips into play when you bend forward to extend your range of motion, or lean back to complete the pull


News flash: The seated cable row isn't intended to be a lower-back exercise! When done correctly, it works your upper lats and middle-back musculature. Recruiting your hips is cheating because it generates momentum and helps you continue a set when your lats start to fatigue
It's hard to maintain a completely upright position during the row, but try to lean no more than 10 degrees from the vertical to limit hip flexors and lower-back involvement

You're Not Using Full ROM

For full range of motion training, you want to go from full extension to peak contraction. That gets hard to do if you're trying to pull too much weight


When pulling, you should be able to bring your elbows as far back behind the plane of your body as possible, consciously squeezing your shoulder blades together. If you can't do this, especially early on in your set, lower the weight and try again

You're Not Protecting Your Lower Back

As with just about every back exercise, you need to isometrically hold your torso in position as you perform cable rows. If you fail to contract your lower back muscles or let your spine flex and extend significantly, you're threatening the discs of your lumbar spine


Disc damage can lead to nerve injuries, which can cause considerable pain, muscle atrophy, weakness, tingling, and numbness. Keep your back slightly arched by engaging those lower back muscles, and you're good to go

You're Locking Your Knees

Keeping your knees slightly bent allows you to absorb changes in your center of gravity and maintain better balance. Locking your knees when pulling back puts additional stress on these joints, which is not good for the long-term health of your knees


Keeping your joints unlocked is less of an issue when you're doing seated exercises, but it's a good habit to get into when doing any back movement

You're Stuck In A Grip Rut

If you're one of those people who always uses the close-grip handle when doing cable rows, it's time for a change. Next time, try attaching a lat bar instead. That way, you'll be able to keep your elbows out away from your sides and give your lat fibers a different movement path


You can also vary your cable rows by switching to an underhand grip, which keeps your elbows tight to your sides. Every exercise can start losing its effectiveness if you do it the same way all the time. Include variations of the seated cable row and you'll stimulate new muscle growth

Your Scapulae Are Too High

Speaking of variations, add this one to your toolbox, compliments of Chris Barakat, MS, ATC


To achieve much greater lat activation, depress your shoulder blades and "scrape the floor with your elbows" as you complete the horizontal row. It may not sound like much, but it can make a big difference in which muscles get activated, and how intensely. And you'd better believe that can make a difference in the results you see

Dumbbell Vs Barbell Bench Press – Which One Is Better?


Because of their status of essential mass builders, heavy compound exercises should be at the core of your chest routine, regardless of your other training preferences. Even though bodybuilders are notorious for their inability to agree upon the best ways to train, almost every lifter out there will tell you that compound exercises should always come first and isolation exercises should always come last in terms of workout structure

In addition, since each exercise has its own perks and flaws, you need to plan your workout in a way that enables optimal muscle activation in the given period of time. In the case of chest training, you have a wide variety of great exercises to choose from and compose the perfect workout. But let’s begin with the basic tried-and-true upper body builder – the chest press


You want to start your chest routine with heavy compound presses that will allow you to overload your chest while your pecs are still fresh and unfatigued so that you can achieve maximum tension and engage as many muscle fibers as possible. Presses also let you add more weight in a progressive manner and accurately track your strength development. There are gazillion press variations which target the chest muscles from different angles and we encourage you to experiment with all of them

Nevertheless, barbell and dumbbell presses are the primary chest compound moves you should rely on for building size and strength in this area. While the barbell press is the golden chest exercise of bodybuilding for many decades now, dumbbell presses also come with a useful pack of benefits that you shouldn’t neglect if you want to up your gains

In the text bellow we’ll compare both exercises in relation to the three most important factors that determine muscle growth and provide you with the knowledge you need to start making the most out of your chest training days


Range of Motion

The main responsibility of the fan-shaped pectoral muscles is to make your upper arms move across the front of the torso, a movement termed as “horizontal adduction”, by contracting and pulling the upper arms towards the mid-chest area

Now, we know that going through the entire range of motion on functional exercises encourages maximum fiber recruitment and supports better muscle growth. That being said, the biggest issue with barbell presses is that they limit your range of motion and reduce it to a short up-and-down motion by keeping your arms in a locked position and thereby restricting the distance they can travel. This means that using a barbell inevitably robs you of achieving the full potential of the exercise which relies on the full arching movement and a complete horizontal adduction

Muscular Symmetry

Most lifters struggle with having an overly developed or dominant side of their bodies caused by imbalanced training and genetic predispositions, for the most part. The resulting strength and size imbalances can be difficult to correct without proper training knowledge and lots of intentional effort. Anytime you’re performing an exercise, chances are that your dominant side will take on some of the work of the weaker side and reinforce the imbalance even further. The long term results of this include reduced stability, damaged aesthetics and increased vulnerability to injury

Excessive barbell pressing can deepen these symmetry issues and lead to drastic strength and size imbalances in the upper body. You could be simply applying more force on your right/left side for years and even contorting your body in favor of your stronger side and not notice it until the imbalance becomes painfully visible


Mechanical Tension

When using a barbell, your hands naturally move outward as you press the weight. This outward push calls other supporting muscles into play, namely the triceps and shoulders, and accentuates their role in the lift. As you can imagine, the shift of tension decreases the stimulus for chest growth and we suppose you want the exact opposite of that.

To enable maximum tension on the targeted muscle, you need to make sure that your pecs are doing the majority of work during every single rep. Dumbbells have the ability to place slightly more tension on the chest muscles than a barbell and they also keep the muscles under tension for longer because of the greater range of motion, so consider incorporating dumbbell presses to your chest routine to reap this benefit and exhaust your pecs more thoroughly

Conclusion

In addition, certain studies have also shown that compared to the standard barbell variant, dumbbell presses offer greater advantages in terms of muscle activation. One study from York University tested this claim with the help of electromyography and found that all three basic variants of dumbbell presses (flat, decline and incline) have the potential to activate more pectoral muscle fibers than their barbell counterparts

Although a barbell allows you to lift heavier weights, this factor alone is not enough to ensure optimal muscle growth. With the use of dumbbells you can amplify the effectiveness of your lifts by increasing the volume and duration of the tension placed on the pecs. So if you want top results, make sure you get the best from both worlds by combining both exercises into your chest routine

How to Get Bigger Chest Muscles?


Who doesn't want bigger pecs? To strengthen your chest muscles and make them pop, focus on doing chest-enhancing exercises, using the right workout techniques, and eating a healthy muscle-building diet. Follow along after the jump to learn how to get bigger chest muscles in no time at all

Exercises to Get Bigger Pectorals

Do push ups This often-neglected exercise focuses on building up your shoulder and upper chest muscles. Lie face-down on the floor and start with your hands about shoulder-width apart, with your legs stretched behind you. Push your body up from the floor with your hands until your elbows are straight, then lower yourself until your arms reach a 90 degree bend

Do 3 sets of 15 push-ups, or as many as you can before growing fatigued. Add more reps as you gain strength

Push ups also work your triceps and shoulders (deltoids)

Try this variation: elevate your legs by placing your feet on a block or step before doing the exercise. This puts emphasis on your shoulders and upper chest


Get into bench pressing This is the most popular chest building exercise of all time, and for good reason. Load a barbell with weights appropriate for your strength level. Remember, it's always better to start too light and adjust than to risk injury by starting too heavy. Lie on a bench with your feet flat on the floor. Lower the barbell down to chest until you reach about 1" from your chest, then lift it straight above your chest

To build muscle mass and hypertrophy it is best to do between 8-12 reps of 1-3 sets

You can also do incline bench presses by using an inclined bench. This is the same as bench pressing, only it focuses more on your upper pectoral muscles. Decline bench presses focus more on your lower pectoral muscles. Most people don't perform this exercise but it is essential in obtaining a full and rounded chest


Do bar dips Stand in front of a wide-grip parallel bar. Pull the bar down and slowly raise it back up. This can be a strenuous exercise that gives you some trouble in the beginning. But it’s one of the best pec workout movements you can do to build lots of chest muscle fast


Focus on the pecs separately Lie down in the push up position and push up. Hold for 3 seconds, then transfer all your weight to your right hand and foot. Stick your left hand and foot up in the air as if you are doing a sideways jumping jack. Hold for 3 seconds. Repeat with your left hand and foot. Again, hold for 3 seconds

Techniques to Remember When You Want to Build Muscle

Don't overwork your muscles Many people make the mistake of lifting weights every single day, thinking that the more they work out, the bigger their muscles will get. This is actually detrimental to muscle growth; your muscles get bigger on the rest days in between workouts, when the tissues repair themselves. To make sure you're not overworking your muscles, follow these tips

Work out your chest muscles no more than once or twice per week. On the days when you aren't working out your chest, work other muscle groups, like your legs, arms, and back

Don't work out for longer than 30 minutes in a session. You'll risk damaging your muscles, and you might have to sit out for awhile instead of working on building strength and mass


Work out as hard as you can When you do work out, you need to go all in. Challenge yourself to lift as much weight as you can without risking muscle, tendon, ligament, or joint damage. To find out how much weight you should be lifting, try doing reps with different weights. You should be able to do 8 - 10 reps without having to put the weights down, but you should be sweating and panting by the end of the set

If you can't do more than 5 or so reps without stopping, you're lifting too much weight. Scale back. As you get stronger, you can start lifting more weight

If you can do 10 reps without feeling a burn, add more weight. You need to challenge yourself if you want to get bigger

Use the right form Have a personal trainer or instructor show you how to do your exercises using the right form. You should generally start with your arms fully extended, and use your muscles, not momentum, to complete each motion

Using the wrong form can cause muscle, tendon, joint, and ligament damage, so make sure you know what you're doing

If you can't complete a motion with a particular weight, it might be too heavy for you. For example, if you can't straighten your arms while you're bench pressing, ease off on the weight


Dietary Habits that Increase Muscle Mass

Don't eat too many calories People often believe that to get big muscles, you need to eat a lot of calories. You do need to be eating enough calories to give you energy through training, but not so many that your body has to work on burning fat instead of building muscle. Being lean helps the muscles you're working so hard to build look more visible

Stay away from empty carbohydrates like pasta, white bread, cakes, cookies, and other baked goods. Choose whole grains

Don't eat too many foods that are processed or fried, and limit fast food and snacks

Eat plenty of protein Protein is a building block for muscle, and you're going to need a lot of it if you want a big chest. You can get your protein from a multitude of sources - not just meat. Consider these options
Lean meats like chicken, fish, lean beef, and pork
Eggs and low-fat dairy
Nuts and beans
Kale, spinach, and other vegetables that have protein
Tofu and soy


Consider taking supplements Many people who are working on building muscles take creatine, a powdered amino acid that is mixed with water and ingested three or more times daily. It is considered safe to consume by the FDA, since it's composed of the same protein that our bodies produce naturally to build muscle

You may also consider taking a protein shake supplement it is one of the most beneficial supplements to gaining muscle and leading an overall healthy life

4 CORE MOVES FOR STRONGER ABS




Supercharge your ab training with these 4 advanced core moves


There’s more to core work than simply crunching your body up and down at a steady pace. Every time you change direction, swing a bat, or throw a football, there’s an intricate network of muscles at work—and if you want to be prepared for explosive, athletic movements, you need to prepare your core accordingly

The following core workout is a quartet of moves designed to deliver more than just looks. You’ll strengthen your torso from top to bottom and front to back and improve your rotational power. And yes, it’ll help you get a six-pack, too
TRX BODY SAW WITH PIKE


With your weight on your hands or on your elbows and forearms, and your feet suspended in the TRX, take a pike position and lift your glutes up. Keeping your core tight is the key to suspension training

HANGING WINDSHIELD WIPERS


Keep this movement under control. Don’t create momentum by swinging your legs. If the hanging version is too challenging, perform these lying faceup on the floor

TORNADO BALL WALL CHOPS



Stand a few feet from a solid brick or concrete wall, facing away from it. Hold the ball with both hands and explosively rotate your torso to throw it into the wall

PLYOMETRIC KNEE TUCK

From a push-up position and with your feet hooked to a Keiser Functional Trainer or FreeMotion machine, forcefully drive your knees forward and up to your chest, then return to the (legs extended) push-up position

Top 5 Leg Training Mistakes and How to Correct Them


With more meat than a deli counter, and tricked out with vertical ravines and horizontal etchings, quadriceps can be showstoppers. Unfortunately, most bodybuilders never maximize their quads, because they are forever shortchanging their leg workouts. This month, we’ll examine the most frequent quad-training blunders and lay out a course of action for correcting each so that the time spent at the squat rack and leg press earns you an A in leg gains

Incorrectly Targeting Areas

Here’s a prevalent myth: to focus more on your quads and less on your glutes during Smith machine or hack squats, move your feet further forward


In fact, the opposite is true. Likewise, many believe that a wide stance will work outer quads and a narrow stance hits more of the inner area–wrong again. The fact is that even many experienced bodybuilders simply do not know how to best target the four quadriceps muscles (the vastus lateralis, rectus femoris, vastus intermedius and vastus medialis) and the various muscles of the upper, inner thighs

Solutions

Point your toes in to work the outer quads (vastus lateralis) more; point them out to work the inner quads (vastus medialis) more
Keep your feet under your hips during exercises, such as Smith machine squats, to target the quads more and glutes less
Taking a narrow stance will focus more on the outer quads; taking a wide stance (and pointing your toes out) will focus more on the muscles of the inner thighs

Using Truncated Range of Motion

You see it in every gym. Guys load up the leg press for–at best–half reps, bending their knees only far enough to keep the weight moving


That same abbreviated bending occurs at squat racks, hack squat machines and often even for leg extensions. Whenever a bodybuilder trains quads, the odds are that he will go through the motion of not going through the whole motion; primarily because doing leg exercises for sets of full reps is hard and doing half reps allows heavier training–providing the illusion of training harder–so quads get “short repped” and thus shortchanged. By limiting the length of movements, you’re limiting your growth

Solutions

Each rep of most sets of squats should descend to where your quads are parallel to the floor or platform, if not deeper. The exception to this rule is when doing half squats to focus more on the medialis, which research shows are effective
Any form of leg press should descend at least until your quads are parallel to the foot platform. In a 45-degree leg press, your knees should brush your chest without your glutes coming up off of the leg press seat, which would place a lot of stress on your lower back
Squats or leg presses should briefly lockout, or stop just short of lockout, at the top
When performing leg extensions, go from a full stretch (calf perpendicular to thigh) to a full contraction, wherein you briefly lock out your knees and flex your thighs
Lunges, thigh adductions, and any other leg exercise should have a full stretch and contraction
You may wish to extend sets of some machine leg exercises via partials, but do this only after reaching failure with full-range reps

Going Too Heavy

This mistake almost always travels in concert with the one that precedes it, since going too heavy leads to truncated reps and truncated reps allow you to go too heavy


This is especially true of leg presses because it’s very likely that you can use more metal with this exercise than any other. This stokes your ego, and because the guy before you used 800 for half reps instead of 500 for full reps, you want to crank out those 800-pound partials, too. What’s more, even if you’re squatting deep in the hole, you may pyramid up to singles and doubles just to slap on as many plates as possible each workout, thus feeding your pride, but not building much–if any–muscle

Solutions

Do full-range movements (see mistake #2
Keep the reps for most sets in the eight-to-12 range
Focus on your muscles, not on the weight

Squatting with Incorrect Form

Stopping far short of parallel isn’t the worst squatting offense


Many bodybuilders lean too far forward and push their hips too far backward, working their backs, hips and butts more than their quads. What’s worse, this could potentially strain your spinal erectors. If you’re going to do barbell squats wrong, it’s best not to do them. A better option is to practice the correct form of this invaluable exercise until you squat right every time

Solutions

Generally, when you take a stance that’s beyond shoulder width, it’s best to do so with your toes angled slightly outward, but find the stance that lets you remain as upright as possible. Often, taller bodybuilders need a wider stance
Overemphasize the arch in your lower back
Look straight ahead throughout each rep
As you drop down, keep your butt over your heels, as if you’re going to sit down on a chair
Driving out of the hole, move your hips before you move your knees
Practice proper upright form by sitting to (butt just touching) and rising from a bench, chair or box set at parallel. Use no weight or a light weight until you master this
Consider starting with Smith machine squats until you master the form, then move on to free-weight squats

 Failing at Failure

Leg training is a bitch. Pushing sets of such exercises as front squats, leg presses and walking lunges to their max will feel like someone is firing a blowtorch at your thighs, and most bodybuilders don’t stay under the blowtorch long enough


You might regularly superset biceps and triceps exercises, do forced reps when bench pressing and drop sets during side laterals, but it’s less likely that you apply the same intensity to your leg workouts–simply because of the pain quotient. As we’ve already explained, bodybuilders frequently go too heavy (with truncated reps) on the leg basics. Low-rep training is the easy way out
Max out on five reps of the leg press and max out on 15 reps, and there’s little doubt that pushing yourself to the limit (with a lighter weight) for 15 will bring on greater torment. Immediately follow those 15 reps with another 15 of hack squats or lunges, and you’ll start to understand maximum leg-day intensity

Solutions

Use reps in the 10-15 range to boost intensity
On occasion, use intensifying techniques like partials, supersets, and rest-pause to push sets beyond full-rep failure
Accept pain as a necessary component of full-bore quad workouts
Lessons Learned

Position your feet to target different quad areas
Make each rep a full rep. When squatting or leg pressing, this means bending your legs until your thighs are at least perpendicular to your calves
Generally, keep your reps in the eight-to-12 range
Practice proper squat form
Push sets to failure and sometimes beyond

Don’t Do These 4 Things On Back Day


Don’t Do Lower-Back Exercises Early In the Workout

In any free-weight back exercise where you’re pulling some pretty heavy weight it’s super important that you stay in your natural spine curvature, rather than rounding it out during the rep


The reason you don’t want a rounded spine is because that makes you more susceptible to a disc injury which can seriously hold you back as a weightlifter

Your lower back muscles play a large part in helping to keep your back straight so you definitely don’t want them tired when you hit that heavy weight. Hit your lower back exercises last in your back routine

Don’t Be Tempted To Look Up In The Mirror

Okay okay we all love checking ourselves out in the mirror but avoid this temptation when doing exercises where you’re bent over. During these exercises there is pressure pulling on your shoulders, lats and right into your spinal column, so if your neck is out of position this creates a new opportunity for disc damage

But don’t worry, just remember to keep your head aligned in the same direction as your torso during any rowing movement. This means if your body is bent over at 45 degrees, then your head should be at 45 degrees too. Don’t look up

ALWAYS Back Before Biceps

I bet you’ve felt before that you workout your biceps naturally when you train back. This is because biceps are a primary mover during back exercises, so you want the fresh to lift the heavy weight your using for back


It’s going to be hard to do an effective back workout if your arms are giving out before your back does

Do you what you got to do for back then go crazy on biceps afterward – this way you won’t let you’re own fatigue limit your back growth

 Don’t Forget They Invented Straps For A Reason

While it is true that straps could reduce grip and forearm strength over time, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use them at all

Most of the time your grip will give out before your lats do and that costs you and extra rep or two


These final reps are the ones where you push yourself to failure and force your muscles to grow, so you want straps to help you pump these out

Use straps on your heaviest sets and use them to break your plateau onto some new personal record’s

7 Things That Will Happen When You Do Planking Exercise Every Day


Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time

The importance of core strength

Abdominal muscles must provide support for our entire back and spinal column. In doing so, they also play a vital role in preventing injuries. However, for them to perform this function successfully, our core muscles have to be strong and trained on a regular basis. What all this means is that doing plank exercises every day is a great way to strengthen your core, and in doing so, support your spine

What will happen when you start doing planks every day


You'll improve core definition and performance

Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominus, the external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice

Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights
Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look
Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty

You'll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back
Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core

3. You'll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep)

You'll significantly improve your posture

Doing planks greatly improves your ability to stand with straight and stable posture. Through strengthening your core you will be able to maintain proper posture at all times because muscles in the abdomen have a profound effect on the overall condition of your neck, shoulders, chest and back

You'll improve overall balance

Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn't stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It's not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it's because your abdominal muscles weren't strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity

You'll become more flexible than ever before

Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shoulders, shoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body's weight

You'll witness mental benefits

Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine

How to hold a plank position

Get into pushup position on the floor
Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms
Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending
Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor
Hold the position for as long as you can
Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily
When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank
Watch the video if you have any doubt

Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups


How to improve your plank time gradually

Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can't perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations
Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time
Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too
Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life

Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank

You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you

Prolapse
After prolapse surgery
Pelvic pain conditions
Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
Previous childbirth
Overweight
Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularl