My genetics are NOT in my favor for me to have washboard abs or a flat stomach. I also have issues with my lower back and waves of pain and tightness.
I have made a pact with myself to do planks nearly every day! Sometimes it is for a few minutes or I go for my max of 8 minutes.
Since starting this a few years ago, I have felt much better and I find it much easier to hold the positions longer and I can even add weights.
There are so many different planks you can do, front, side, and more, but the key to them all is to be in the correct position.
Before I go any further with this, I need you to know I am NOT a professional, NOT a trainer, and if you are worried about trying this, ask your doctor first.
You want to get on your knees and hands on the ground as if you were pretending to be a cat or dog. Then lift your knees off the floor, stay on your toes, and either keep your hands on the ground OR go down on your forearms (I do it this way). You DON'T want your butt up high in the air or your pelvis low to the ground. You want to imagine your body straight from the feet to the butt to the head with your elbows straight under your shoulders. Imagine you are sucking in your belly button to your lower back while squeezing your buttocks without raising or lowering your butt. This is the correct way of holding a plank and the base for most of the forward planks.
Keep all the same ideas for a side plank, but the forearm/arm that is not on the ground should be straight up in the air reaching for the ceiling. At the same time, one foot should be on top of the other, so only one foot is touching the ground. If this is too hard, you can stagger your legs, one over the other as if you are creating the letter V . You will then have both feet on the ground (side foot). This is the base for all side planks.
I would start by doing each plank in my video for 10 to 20 seconds and work your way up from there. Your goal can be to hold each for one minute. I do eight variations back to back without letting my knees touch the ground for eight minutes. Once you can hold any plank for one minute, try to go right into your choice of the next plank exercise without resting or breaking the plank stance. I would do a total of one to two minutes, three times a week for beginners and six to eight minutes total for those who are advanced.
I always start my workouts with planks, then do crunches, then my workout.
Some of the benefits of doing planks are that they:
You can see more of what I have been doing to stay healthy and happy at my Facebook page. or here on the At Home With Adam webpage.