When it comes to building a strong, powerful core, planks and sit-ups tend to be most people’s go-to exercises.
But what are the benefits of each exercise and how can they turbo-charge your life or athletic game? We break down each exercise to reveal exactly how different they are.
Sit-ups are a repetitive exercise that strengthen and tone the abdominal muscles (six-pack, anyone?). They are the perfect exercise for those whose life, work or sport rely on forward or backward rolling movement through the core, such as: police and ADF divers, stunt performers, roustabouts, gymnasts, football and soccer players and snowboarders/wakeboarders.
You see all those six-packs on Instagram? That’s due to a commitment to sit-ups, which work the rectus abdominus, the muscles that run vertically down the front side of the abdomen to give you that washboard-stomach look.
A word of warning though: sit-ups should not be done by anyone following a recent surgery, immediately after childbirth or by those carrying a symptomatic spinal disc injury due to the risk of pain or further injury.
If in doubt, please chat with one of our friendly Exercise Physiologists at Agility Rehabilitation, because your wellness is our world.
Due to the isometric nature of planks – meaning, that instead of being repetitive like a sit-up, they are an exercise where you manoeuvre into and then hold a position for a specified time – they are an incredible exercise for building a powerhouse core.
Having a strong core is important to balance and power the body throughout your day – and planks work the entire mid-section, deep into the abdominals, as well as your shoulders, neck and hip flexors. This means your entire front core is strengthened as you perform and hold a plank.
They are the perfect exercise for those who have to engage their core for long periods of time to stay still, such as: rope access technicians, mechanics, electricians, plumbers and athletes such as rock climbers. Because planks strengthen your entire trunk, it is considered a powerhouse all-in-one exercise.
How to do a sit-up...
Sit-ups start by finding a safe, comfortable space to roll out your exercise mat. Lying on your back, draw your legs up at the knees and place your feet firmly on the ground.
Start curling your upper body forward toward your knees. Exhale as you rise and inhale as you retreat.
Keep your hands positioned behind your head or crossed at your chest. If you really need to use the momentum of your arms, you can – but try and avoid this if possible. If placing behind your head, be mindful not to use your hands to pull your head forward if fatigued.
Repeat continuously, building up repetitions as your fitness improves.
How to do a plank...
Roll out your exercise mat in a safe, comfortable place. Manoeuvre yourself into a plank position, being careful to ensure your elbows are on the ground aligned directly under your shoulders.
Your feet should be slightly apart, aligned with your hips, with your back flat (no bums sticking in the air please).
Your head and neck should be neutral, with your face looking down at the mat.
Once in position, drive your elbows into the floor. Hold position, while continuing to inhale through your nose and exhale through the mouth.
Continue for as long as possible, building up time as your strength builds.
Which exercise is best?
The plank ticks a lot of boxes, purely because it works so many groups of muscles throughout your abs, back and buttocks.
However, when it comes to exercising to build a strong and robust core to reduce injury and boost performance, we believe both exercises have their place in your routine.
For any questions on these or other subjects, please give our expert team at Agility Rehabilitation a call today on (08) 6162 8145.