There are a handful of moves trainers always rely on for an effective workout, but there’s one in particular that we consistently hear from the experts: the humble plank. “The number one reason planks rule, in my opinion, is because they’re the most challenging mind-over-matter move you can do,” said Leslie Taylor, trainer at Barreworks in Brentwood in Los Angeles.
Ania London, Pilates trainer and founder of Pilates of San Diego, agreed. “Planks are challenging for everyone; they make everyone uncomfortable. And we need more of that — we have to get uncomfortable to become comfortable.”
“Breath intention and usage is also essential, because a lot of people tend to hold their breath during a plank . . . then they huff and puff trying to stay in it,” London said. Her words of wisdom? Take a step back, and remind yourself you’re not going to die if you hold it a little longer. “Start over in a knee plank,” she said. “Focus on connecting your breath to the contraction of the TVA [transverse abdominis, or deeper abdominal muscles] without the brain telling them they’re gonna die if they stay in this plank.”
The concept of exercising your mind-over-matter skills is an important one; this will help you push through tough workouts, and maybe even some tough life events. Through the practice of a simple exercise like a plank, you can remind yourself of your strength.
If you’re still on the fence, here are three reasons you need to integrate planks into your routine ASAP.