Plank….the master of all exercises.  I have been in Pilates for ten years. I’ve been pushed, pulled, inverted and everything in between. I push each muscle until it screams “no more”. However, there is one exercise which seems to do it all and that’s Plank! This exercise is all about strengthening your core which in essence is strengthening the basis for all your other muscles. Plank strengthens these core muscle through isometric muscle contraction.  Plank will help with your balance and stability and tone those abdominal and lumbar muscles all at once.  A strong core makes all other exercises easier and more effective.  But this exercise isn’t restricted to strengthening the core,  it also works the arms, shoulders, and gluteal muscles. Plank is a deceiving exercise. It doesn’t look like anything is going on, but Oh! is that wrong. Over ten years ago, when I did this isometic for the first time, I thought to myself, “is this really an exercise”? After a minute in position, my mind was changed.  As each minute goes along, the muscles begin to quiver and the sweat starts rolling down the forehead.  Hold, hold hold….that’s what plank is all about.

Isometric Contraction of Muscles

Movement isn’t involved in isometric exercises like plank.  It is a static muscle contraction as the muscle contracts against an immovable object like the floor. This is different than isotonic exercise where the muscle contracts and lengthens as a joint goes through a range of motion.  Isometric exercises are excellent at increasing the strength of muscles and increasing tone. This exercise tends to create longer and leaner muscles as opposed to bulk.  Both blood pressure and heart rate increase with our friends all contracted at once and sometimes more than with isotonic exercise. For this reason, don’t forget to check with a physician prior to any exercise.

Well it’s been ten years since my instructor introduced me to this killer exercise.  I still remember thinking he didn’t know what he was doing, but now it is a part of my exercise routine. Form is key to performing and getting the most out of this exercise.  Don’t be surprised if you can only hold position for 30 seconds when you begin.  As you gain strength, 2 to 5 minutes contracted isometrically can be a killer.  I try to use music as a distraction during plank or if that’s not available, a chat buddy does the same.

Plank or Low Plank-Side Plank-Reverse Plank


PlankSide PlankSide Plank

Reverse Plank

Reverse Plank


Check out these resources for more information on plank:

Turn It On and Look Fab!

Juetta West


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