Those in pursuit of abdominal strength probably have a plank or crunch session in their workout routine. The popularity of planks has taken off recently and is beginning to bypass crunches on the way to the status of most constructive ab-workout. Both methods have their ups and downs, here is what you need to know in order to get a chiselled six pack with the use of one of our flexible gym memberships.
You’ll already know that both of these exercises activate your abdominal region but they don’t stop there. Crunches stimulate the rectus abdominis, six pack muscles, and oblique. Planks interact with the same muscles but also stimulate shoulder muscles, glutes, and legs.
Research from Jinger Gottschall from Pennsylvania State University has found that abdominal and lumbar muscles get more attention when a workout also includes the involvement of deltoids and glutes. Her study also reveals that forearm planks activate muscle activity in the rectus abdominus and external oblique’s up to twice as much as a standard crunch.
Gottschall’s research concludes that planks help build a core faster than crunches. However, there are drawbacks to planking. Planks and their many variations call for a precise posture. Assuming an incorrect posture is ineffectual and may also cause pain to your spine and joints. Planks utilise isometric muscle contraction, which provides more core muscle than a crunch but less tone definition.
This is because a crunch uses a combination of a concentric contraction when your torso is moving up, and an eccentric muscle contraction when moving down. These motions elongate the muscle giving you a certain definition that can’t be achieved with a plank.
Crunches tend to aggravate the back much more than planks. Injuries are more common with the strain that comes when putting such pressure on slowly bending your back. The minimal amount of muscles worked out by a crunch makes planking superior for muscle growth but lacks the aesthetic appeal promised by crunches.
The standard plank is executed by getting in your push-up position. Be conscious of what your body is doing. Keep your entire body locked and in the same position, be mindful of when you begin to sag. Hold the position for between 60-90 seconds before assuming a different plank position.
Before you do you crunches, be sure you have a soft surface for your back to lie on. If you’re on a hard surface, grab a yoga mat to cushion your training. Start by having your feet grounded to the floor. If someone can hold them down or if you can keep them planted using a device do so. With your hands behind your back and your lower back flat slowly lift just to the point before you can’t go any further and slowly bring yourself back to the ground. If your spine is hurting either alter your position or switch to planks.
Both core workouts bring their own key features, so use them in combination to efficiently give yourself a great all-round exercise, build your core, protect your back from injury and attain the look you’re after.
Hussle offer flexible gym passes for participating gyms across the country. Whether you’re near Clifton College Sports Centre in Bristol, Lewes Leisure Centre, The Rapids in Romsey, The Pemberton Centre in Rushden or beyond, get a pass and get to the gym!
Strange, I never got into planks. I find them immensely boring. I have always done 'sit ups' (never used to call them crunches) and they have always worked for me so i see no point in changing.
I don't ever do crunches either, it's planks for me all the way. And it's good to read that they are proven to be more effective.
I didn't think anyone was still doing crunches - most people I know favour the plank and plank variations as it's so effectove.
For me it's simple. I enjoy doing planks. i hate doing crunches. There's a clear winner emerging!
I was also very pleased to discover the plank. I find that I can do the crunches when I have a strong core, but they are too chancy otherwise.
Thanks, that's really interesting to know the benefits of each. Personally, I will always stick with the plank because it strengthens my core without straining. And I do hold the position properly.