Planks and push-ups aren’t new in the fitness sphere. The main question is which of the two is worth adding to your workout arsenal. This debate isn’t new either, it has been the subject of discussion for a decades. And chances are, you are stuck trying to figure out which option is the best for you.
You are not alone, many fitness beginners have also struggled to make their choice here. Not to worry, in this post, I will be sharing all that you need to know about the two, and whether any is a better tool for the job.
So tag along!
Plank Challenge, What Is It?
Now that you have been looking into planks and push-ups, there’s a good chance you have come across the term plank challenge. So what is it and what is it all about?
This challenge lasts for a number of preset days, say 30 days, with the primary aim of building up endurance and strengthening your core muscles. You should keep increasing the time you hold your plank with each day, to hit about 2 minutes by day 12, then step on the gas to hit about 5 minutes by the end of the challenge.
Ready for The Challenge? Here’s how It’s Done
Start at the pushup position, with your arms fully extended if you are doing the high plank. For beginners, you can start by assuming a position on your knees.
Your palms and the toes should be firm on the ground, while your core is held tight and your back straight. Your body should be as straight as it can get, without letting your head or back sag.
Having nailed the position, you can proceed to hold the plank for the desired time.
What Are Some of The Benefits of Planks?
So, what do you stand to gain out of your planking workout? Thankfully, there are a whole lot of benefits, here are a few.
Better Muscle Definition
Planks are some of the best hardcore exercises for building your core muscles along with other body muscles. With enough planks, you will burn your fat to a low percentage, where your core muscles will start taking shape as they build up and enlarge.
Improve Your Posture
With stronger core and lower back muscles, you achieve a better spinal alignment and healthier upper back muscles. This improves your posture largely and helps with better spine positioning.
Several plank variations, including the side plank, uneven plank, and even the conventional planks further help with the strengthening of your core muscles.
Other awesome benefits include better metabolic rate, reduced back pain, core muscle stability, and working the soft tissue around your muscles and joints.
Another exercise that is more beginner friendly that you can do to strengthen core is, double crunches.
Which Is Better: Planks or Push-Ups?
Both planks and push-ups offer a wide variety of benefits that make each of them worthwhile. This makes it a bit difficult to say that any is better than the other. However, to let you understand better which one will suit you well, here’s a brief breakdown of both.
Planks are perfect for working your core if done perfectly, but that’s not all, you also get to work your back, glutes, shoulder, quad, and chest muscles. You can also do several plank variations for more intensity and achievement.
Push-ups on the other end are great for several different muscles as the core, shoulders, chest, and arms. Moreover, they help stabilize your spine and enhance the connection of your vertebrae. Additionally, push-ups offer you concentric and eccentric muscle movement, where your muscles contract in some parts of the move and lengthen on the other. I did push ups in my 100 push ups, 100 sit ups, and 100 squats for 30 days challenge and by far they were the easiest to do in that challenge. Or maybe I went into the challenge with great arms?
My verdict? This one seems more like a tie to me. Let’s say the best exercise here boils down to the muscles that you are looking to target.
Can Planks Replace Push-Ups?
As aforementioned, planks and push-ups target several similar muscles, and varying ones as well. This gives you the ability to switch between the two. However, can you use planks instead of push-ups?
If you are doing high planks, then you are likely to get most of the benefits you can get with push-ups, including working your wrists. And yes, planks help achieve better posture, stability, balance, and even spinal alignment, all of which you can also get with push-ups.
So yes, it’s safe to say you could swap push-ups for the high plank.
Do Push-Ups Count as Planks?
While push-ups and planks have a lot in common, a few differences set them apart. Subtle as they might be, they could mean a world of difference over time.
So if you are not feeling completely comfortable with planks, then you can resort o push-ups in the meanwhile. But for the best results, it is advisable to combine the two in your workout to get the best benefit out of each.
Can You Build Muscle with Planks?
The answer is a resounding yes! From working your biceps, shoulder muscles and even neck muscles, planks help you to work a myriad of muscles on your body. This exhausts the muscle tissue, causing a “tear and repair” effect that eventually brings about toning and development that you will start seeing after some time.
Besides the upper body muscles, you can build muscles in your midsection, buttocks, and thighs too. Moreover, you don’t necessarily have to spend a lot of time on this exercise, just about 10 minutes max a day should be more than enough.
Can You Get a 6 Pack from Just Planking?
Definitely! If there’s one muscle you work the most when holding a plank, it’s the core muscle. When you get down to the position and hold for some time, this is the first area where you will feel the pressure building.
What’s more, you also get other perks as transverse abdominis, which is a higher ability to lift heavyweight, Obliques — stability for side-bending and/or waist-twisting, and rectus abdominis, which is better sports performance.
If your main goal is to develop a rock-hard core and some nicely toned 6 packs, then this exercise is a perfect fit for you.
Is Planking Bad?
I wouldn’t say planking is bad as it doesn’t have any risk for a fatal injury or anything extreme. However, it isn’t all rainbows and unicorns. You also need to be keen when doing this exercise to avoid a few dangers.
One of these is the risk of inflammation to costochondritis, cartilage connecting the rib to the breastbone, according to an article in The Daily Mail. And that’s not all, planking also exposes you to other risks such as costochondritis if you overdo this exercise.
This results from a strain in intercostals muscles, which are between your ribs, and pectoral muscles in the chest, eventually putting pressure on your costochondral joint. So just take it easy.
Why Do I Shake While Planking?
We’ve all been there done that, right? The thing is you might have wondered why you always shake when planking. Not to worry, this is normal, it happens when your muscles become fatigued, which also happens to your nervous system.
With the nervous system working overtime to coordinate the muscle fibers that are to contract and the force needed from your core muscles during the plank, it gets overworking with time.
With the combination of fatigue on your nervous system and your muscles, the muscle tissue starts receiving mixed instructions, leading to the irregular behavior and shaking of your core.
What Happens if You Plank Every Day?
It might seem like a simple exercise, but planking is sure to give you results after some time if done correctly. Here are a few benefits of planking daily.
First, you will get strong deep abs, as well as an improvement in your overall core strength, so your 6 pack abs (or if you are lucky, 10 pack abs or 12 pack abs) will be more prominent. Not forgetting, it also helps with shoulder stability, and enables you to lift heavier weight. What’s more, you will achieve better isometric strength and improved overall athletic performance. You have everything to gain!
What Is the Best Time to Do Planks?
There are two sides to time when it comes to planking, when is when to do the plank, and the other is for how long. To begin with, there’s the when, where you need to slot in your planks at the ideal time either before or after other exercises. Of course, you won’t be doing planks only, will you?
When it comes to the question of how long, this will depend on your level of endurance. If you are just starting out, don’t push yourself past about 20 to 30 seconds. But you can increase the duration you hold the plank as you get a stronger core. Just take it slow at first and advance gradually to more extensive exercise.
What Do People Say About These Exercises?
Planks and push-ups have proven to be great additions to workout schedules, with great success for many fitness enthusiasts, and even pro sportsmen and women alike.
The benefits you reap from your planks or push-ups will depend on how well you are doing them, and if you are moving out of your comfort and pushing the limits on the go. However, users have attained impressive results overall, with better core strength, abs, and endurance among other advantages.
As personal trainer Sivan Fagan, the founder of Strong with Sivan puts it, building chest muscle strength (which can be achieved with push-ups) is helpful for many reasons, like for chest-specific workouts such as bench press.
Which Exercise Is Safer?
Both of these exercises are considered quite safe, but this will also depend on how correctly you are doing them. Planks don’t exert as much pressure on your wrists as push-ups do.
But this doesn’t mean they don’t come with any risks, as aforementioned, if done incorrectly or overdone, planks too could cause chest pain and other complications. The safety of your exercise will depend more on how well it is executed, so be safe when working out.
However, according to Sergio Pedemonte, the founder of Your House Fitness, push-ups are considerably safer compared to other strength exercises that target the same group of muscles. And the same can be said for the planks since both involve natural movements.
Which Is Ideal for Beginners?
Although both moves are almost similar, the one thing that most beginners struggle with is trying to maintain the starting position to the end. If you are only starting, then an inclined push-up is your best bet. This helps maintain your posture without letting your core sag. You are gonna need to measure your fitness level first and know your limits when choosing between planks and push ups and as I said if you are still starting to work out, incline push ups are the way to go.
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