Plank is well-known Pilates and Yoga move, that we practise in almost every Ad Astra class, I even sneak one or two into Body Max! So why on earth do I keep making you do them, when there are so many other core exercises to choose from?

Whilst plank is an excellent ‘move’ to build a strong core, did you know, it also works your wrists, arms, chest, shoulders, neck, back, glutes, sides, legs and feet (is that all?!) And depending on what variations you do, it can give you a lovely boost to your heart rate too! Think ‘mountain climber’.

Let’s look at why I include them in my classes:

Plank variations to improve cardio vascular health (Body Max class)

I just mentioned the good old mountain climber, but even the slow knee-unders that we include in the abs track of Body Max can raise the heart rate just enough to benefit. Even alternating between hands and forearms can warm you up quicker than you were expecting…

Have you tried to see how long you can hold plank for? Most people end it because of the strain on the core or arms, but next time you do, take a moment to notice how puffed out you are!

Plank improves your posture (Pilates focus)

By strengthening all of your core, your posture will automatically improve, especially if you sit or stand for long periods of time at work, or in the evenings. Something clever called isometric strength, which is what you build when you hold a position with contracted muscles, without moving, ultimately helps you to stop hunching and curving your lower back when sitting or standing. Good eh?!

Better flexibility (Yoga focus)

Believe it or not (but it’s true), planks stretch your lower body – your hamstrings are lengthening, your calves and Achilles tendons are getting a great stretch and your feet benefit too from a gentle stretch of the plantar fascia (sole).

And if you turn into side planks, guess what? You stretch the upper side of your body when raising your arm to the sky and lifting your hip.

Plank is great move for a yoga class because while you get a stretch, you also build strength to prepare you for some of the more challenging arm balances, such as crow or chaturanga.

Plenty to choose from

Whatever you want to improve on, whether it’s strength, stretch, stability or cardio, there’s always a variation on plank that will get you there. That’s why I love a good planking and I hope you do too!

Take a look at my favourite variations of plank, and next time you’re in position, think about all the brilliant benefits!

Ad Astra yoga and Pilates teacher, Jayne Attwood demonstrating 6 variations of plank.