Once upon a time sit-ups and crunches used to rule as a way to acquire buns of steel, while planks were an after-thought. Nowadays, planks are standard for getting a good core workout.
What is the core? Simply put, it is the abdominal muscles that support the spine.
What is a plank? A plank is an isometric core exercise which involves a position resting on your elbows and toes without your midsection touching the floor.
Why are planks more effective than sit-ups and crunches?
For starters, sit-ups and crunches are very hard on the back. They put your body in spinal flexion rather than maintain a neutral spine. They push the curved spine against the floor and exercise the hip flexors. Hip flexors are the muscles that run from the thighs to the lumbar vertebrae of the lower back. When hip flexors are overdeveloped or tight, they contribute to lower back pain by causing the pelvis to a forward-tilt.
Planks incorporate many muscle groups, like the rectus abdominis, transvers abdominis and the obliques, just to name a few. If you are aiming for a six-pack, planks build functional strength and stabilize the spine to maintain a strong core. Sit-ups and crunches only strengthen a few muscle groups.
While you are doing the standard face-down, forearm supported plank, don’t forget to do side planks. The side plank is the most overlooked exercise. Low back pain comes from lack of muscle endurance in the core. Side plank is often used to check core muscle endurance. The side plank not only works the obliques, but it also works the glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and both adductors and abductors.
Standard face-down and side planks help with keeping your midsection looking trim and prevent and treat lower back pain.