Plank exercises are a popular element of isometric training, which involves contracting your muscles against stationary resistance. Isometric exercises are common for injury rehabilitation or reconditioning. Isometric exercises, such as planks, can help you get past strength-training plateaus and improve energy transference between your upper body and lower body. Plank exercises, in particular, benefit multiple elements of physical fitness and your general well-being.
The plank exercise helps strengthen midsection, upper-body and lower-body muscles along the front of your body. Planks also strengthen inner core muscles that support your joints. The rectus abdominis and transverse abdominis that form your outer and inner abdominal muscles, respectively, are primary supporters during plank exercises. The abdominal obliques also stabilize the plank position isometrically. Upper-body stabilizers include the pectoral and serratus muscles. Lower-body stabilizers include the quadriceps, sartorius and tensor fasciae latae.
Plank exercises help increase flexibility in posterior muscle groups throughout your body. Your shoulder girdle expands and stretches various muscles around your shoulders, collarbone and shoulder blades. Pressing the front of your thighs upward and lengthening your legs as much as possible stretches the hamstrings that form the back of your thighs. Plank exercises also stretch the arches of your feet as your toes hyperextend to support your weight.
Plank exercises have aesthetic benefits that can enhance your appearance by improving posture. Planks activate core muscles, including the transverse abdominis and iliopsoas, which stabilize your spine and hips. Plank exercises help prevent or reverse postural deficiencies, including lordosis and posterior pelvic tilt. Lordosis, or swayback, results from abdominal weaknesses that overextend your back; it tends to make your buttocks stick out. Posterior pelvic tilt, or flat back, results from hip flexor weaknesses and flattens the normal curvature of your spine.
Plank exercises might provide mental benefits that improve your mood. Plank exercises stretch muscles that commonly stiffen throughout the day and contribute to stress. Sitting at your desk might tighten muscles along the back of your thighs when your legs remain bent for several hours. Tension also develops in the shoulder girdle, if your shoulders tend to slump forward. The website Yoga Journal recommends plank exercises for stress reduction, because planks can help calm your brain. Plank exercises might also help to suppress anxiety. Symptoms of depression may improve if you perform plank exercises.