The Plank Exercise: Making Crunches Look Like A Little Bitch

Plank exercise

If I were to go out and ask 100 random people on the street what the best exercise to get six pack abs is, I’m betting that at least 60% of them will say crunches or sit ups.

Really?!?!

I thought we were past the times where people thought that the only way to get a six pack was through endless amounts of crunches. But the mainstream fitness media keeps pumping out articles about how awesome crunches are.

It’s simply not true.

Crunches and sit ups suck balls.

They destroy your back and even if they were safe to do, they still don’t provide much in the form of strengthening your core.

So how do you build strong and sexy abs?

Well I’m glad you asked – one of the best exercises to build a strong core is the plank exercise.

What is the plank exercise?

In its simplest form, the plank exercise is simply a core strengthening exercise that builds strength and endurance throughout your entire abs.

It’s an isometric exercise, meaning that your muscles don’t change in length and you’re simply doing the plank in a static position.

To do the plank exercise, follow the steps below:

  1. Lie face down on the floor.
  2. Raise up onto your toes and rest on your elbows.
  3. Make sure your back is completely straight.
  4. Make sure to brace your abs (pretend that you’re about to get punched in the stomach).
  5. Simply hold this position.

The final position should look like this:

Plank demonstration

The plank exercise won’t fuck up your lower back

One of the reasons that I hate crunches so much is because they’re so bad for your lower back, yet so many people still recommend them as a safe and effective ab exercise.

When you’re doing crunches, you’re working out your abs, but you’re also putting a ton of pressure on your lower back which is not good.

If you don’t believe me, take a look at this study done by Stuart Mcgill (one of the most renowned lower back and spinal doctors in the world).

The load predictions in this study suggest that performing situps (both dynamic and quasi-static) imposes high levels of compressive loading (> 3000 N) on the low back. The issue of using straight legs or bent knees is probably not as important as the issue of whether or not to prescribe situps at all.

The study basically states that doing sit ups can put up to 3000 newtons or about 672 pounds of pressure on the lower back. That’s a crap ton of pressure on your lower back and if you continue to do sit ups, you’re bound to screw up your lower back sooner or later.

The reason I love the plank exercise so much is because it puts almost no pressure on your lower back.

Other exercises will become easier

The cool thing about the plank exercise is that the better you get at the plank, the stronger you’ll be in your other exercises. Many exercises these days engage your core and the reason that the majority of people are weak is simply because they have a weak core.

Exercises like the bent over barbell/dumbell row, deadlift, and lunges all indirectly involve the core for various balance and stabilization reasons.

Once you strengthen your core with the plank exercise, those exercises will instantly become easier.

But how will the plank help me get better looking abs

Alright calm down.

Most of you probably don’t give a rat’s ass about safety and simply want to know how the plank exercise will you get good looking abs.

If you have a low enough body fat percentage and you’ve been doing the plank for some time, then you’re going to have some sick looking abs.

To put it non-scientifically – the plank will help tighten your entire ab region and will help give your abs a really tight and sleek look once you’re at a low enough body fat percentage.

Because remember, if you’re holding a lot of body fat then your abs will never show no matter what. You still need to follow a strength training routine and maybe a well-structured cardio workout as well. But above all, you must  focus on your diet if you hope to lose any body fat.

Stop being a crunch bitch

Bottom line – crunches suck and planks rule.

I seriously can’t think of one good reason to do crunches, so please, just stop.

Crunches already get a pretty bad rep in the fitness industry, but people are still doing them. If you want a strong a good looking set of abs then stop crunching and start planking.

Photo credits – Roman Kazmierczak

32 thoughts on “The Plank Exercise: Making Crunches Look Like A Little Bitch”

  1. Finally got my home gym setup so I actually don’t do any direct core work anymore. Heavy squatting works your core as do many of the other compound movements I do. Planks are a good option if you cannot do heavy training as they can be done anywhere. They are bloody boring though lol.

    Reply
    • Yeah stuff like deadlifts, sqauts, and bent over rows work your core a lot. And I agree, even 2 minutes of planking can feel like forever but I think it’s worth it in the end.

      Reply
  2. Regular planks can be boring and ho-hum, agreed. You need to challenge yourself like: elevating your feet on a bench or doing a side plank with one leg elevated to switch up the routine. I never felt anything but neck pain from crunches. Planks are the way to go.

    Reply
    • Yeah planks can get boring since you’re simply staying in a static position. But they can also help build mental strength to see how much you can stay in that position before giving up.

      Reply
  3. I agree with you that crunches are far too over-hyped. Just because people anointed them the king of ab exercises in the past doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true today.

    To be honest, I feel like crunches are a waste of time. I don’t think they are nearly as effective as planks or hanging leg lifts. Crunches may be a great introduction to ab exercises for beginners because it allows a person to “feel” his or her abs, but eventually it’s time to move on to other exercises.

    Reply
  4. im quite short and been trying to get stomach flattend as being short its easier to look rounder – i was wondering if say 3 sets of planking a day with a couple of sessions of leg raises a week would be a good idea? ive been doing the usual crunches/ab machines etc and just feel my stomach getting bigger

    Reply
    • Yes that sounds like a good plan Dave. But you don’t need to train your abs every day. 3x per week is good enough.

      Reply
  5. excellent thanks, been trying for ages to get thinner round the middle and making the mistake of doing more stomach work with weights/crunches etc, cant wait to see how this goes

    Reply
  6. Best part about planking is it’s a douche bags fad. Doesn’t work just makes you look like an ass.
    Do inverted sit-ups,push-ups, Squats and leg lifts. get some weights you can lift and hold your arms out at your sides, then bring your arms around to your front and back to your sides(that’s if you can) The reason most of you will never see results from planking is because it doesn’t do anything. If you’re not sweating and it’s not hard it’s not working. I saw do all of the exercises above because it takes more than one muscle group for you to build up your abs. You will need to build your arms,legs,back,chest and abs. You will have to work your ass off for results nothing is easy, but it’s worth doing if you have the will power.

    Reply
    • Um how are they a fad? What does sweating have anything to do with training your abs? Planking helps contract your spine in a neutral spine position. Holding a plank for multiple minutes is no easy thing to do. Please do your research before you make an ignorant comment.

      Reply
    • The entire time you are in plank position, your abs are engaged and working. A 5 minute plank DOES cause sweating, depending on who you are, because your abs ARE working. Whether it causes washboard abs, I won’t discuss because I’m 19 percent fat, but it definitely improves your abs. I personally like crunches too, though, because neck torque only happens if you do them wrong.

      -Soldier, US Army Reserves

      Reply
  7. Planks are really good if you want to somewhat ‘lose’ love handles and get your abs more defined.

    I used to weigh 23 stones (around 140 – 150kg). Not muscle, I wish I was. Unfortunately I was a fat bastard once upon a time.

    Crash dieting and loads of running everyday made me lost a significant amount in a short time. Although I looked better, my love handles were still quite big. So I started doing planks, as well as sit ups. This was amazing, as it made me tighter around the love handle region and the abs workout being done straight after the planks (1 – 1.5 min for the front and 1 min for the sides) worked amazing! Now, I can feel my sides more toned, tighter and are working towards the V shaped back i’ve longed.

    Whilst training, i’m unable to lift any weights in which I have to use my lower back (e.g. dead lifting, etc). When working on every other muscle, my lower back was always left out. I then came across a weight-free exercise I came across for the lower back. Lie on your front, put your hands behind your head and raise your head and legs at the same time. It primarily focuses on the lower back region and it works wonders. Just for those who can’t work on their lower back. Think of it like a fish, raising your head and legs simultaneously whilst lying on your front.

    So anyways, I totally agree with the benefits of planks. I’ve seen the changes it brings to me, and I would DEFINITELY recommend this to everyone!

    Big up to the admin who brought this topic up! And I apologize for the long winded comment; i’m bored shitless at work and want to go gym after!!!!!!! :@

    One more thing; don’t take supplements! I’ve been training naturally for 2.5 years, no protein, no energy supplements, no nothing. My diet is strictly white meat (fish and chicken) and minimum carbs. I cheat once a week on pizza, or a take out, but hey. Who doesn’t?

    Peace and love gymers!!

    Reply
  8. OK, this is going to sound strange, but I have recently started planking and I am having a problem. I feel intense pressure in my face when I am doing it. Am I doing something wrong?

    Reply

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