Core strength has never been a bigger focus among athletes and coaches, and for good reason.
The more we understand about the human body and elite athletic performance, the more clearly we see our core's importance in it all. Our core works to support our midsection and also allows for transferring force from the lower body to the upper body and vice versa.
One of the ways we can challenge and develop our core strength? Isometric holds, which are exercises in which you hold a certain static position for a given duration.
When you think of isometric core exercises, the Plank immediately comes to mind. A proper Plank starts with developing tension throughout the entire body. When we lack tension, we lack a true challenge to our core muscles, and suddenly, Planks become "easy."
This is why even people who may not have all that much core strength can sometimes hold a Plank for several uninterrupted minutes.
But Planks are far from our only isometric option for building core strength. Doing exercises to target your abs isn't just about hitting the "six-pack" muscles. It's important to think of your core as including 360 degrees around your midsection, so obliques and muscles of the low back and hips are just as important as the typical "ab" muscles.
Planks are easily botched and can be rather boring in most cases. The reality is other isometric exercises can produce superior results in many cases.
With that in mind, here are six isometric exercises to utilize instead of Planks.
There are several ways in which we can program these holds. The first way is holding for a specific length of time, typically in the 10-30 second range. A second and potentially more challenging way to program these holds is to go for breaths.
With isometric exercises, we tend to hold our breaths in order to create tension, but this decreases the challenge on our muscles. We can get around that by programming deep breaths where we inhale for 3-5 seconds then exhale for 3-5 seconds. Programming one of the above moves for 5-10 deep breaths as opposed to a second or minute-based duration could result in increased effectiveness and performance.
Core strength comes down to one big question: How well can your body resist movement? It's not about how many Crunches you can bang out. It's about being able to transfer our own energy throughout our own body and resisting someone else's energy when it's transferred upon us.
The above moves are all arguably superior to the standard Plank when it comes to building core strength. Integrate them into your routine, focus on mastering your form and keeping the duration manageable yet challenging, and watch as your core strength takes off.
Photo Credit: CasarsaGuru/iStock
- Why Core Stiffness Matters More Than Core Strength
- Why 'Anti' Movements Are an Athlete's Key to Functional Core Strength
- Why Your Ab Workout Isn't Actually Strengthening Your Core