Posted on: August 9th, 2012 by Ben Gonzalez
My trainer put me through a rigorous regiment twice a week.Â Embarking on new vegetarian diet means I have to watch what I eat even more.Â While at the gym this past weekend, I noticed that when it comes to doing planks, everyone’s got a very different idea of what is comfortable on the ground.Â For those not familiar, a plank is a very simple yet very effective form of core training.Â You basically get down on the floor, back straight, and lift your body off the floor with your forearms on the floor.Â The idea is you use your elbows and toes to anchor your body while your core (lower back and abdomen) support your body.Â A minute of this can get pretty intense pretty fast.
At my gym, we haveÂ workout mats
in varying thicknesses.Â What I noticed was that depending on the person, different mats will provide a substantially different level of comfort and balance when planking.Â A petite woman with a small frame would probably dig into a plank on a relatively thin mat like a yoga mat
, while a larger, body-builder type male will not get much out of anything less than 1-3/8″ dense crosslink foam exercise mat
for most floor stretches and things like planks.
When it comes to finding exercise mats for particular applications, one must always consider comfort, thickness, and (often overlooked) body chemistry. At 6’4″ and 198lbs, I found that my deciding factor when using any of the floor mats for exercise
, is the actual surface material.Â Smooth Vinyl on most crosslink mats, embossing pattern on closed-cell pvc mats (e.g. yoga mats) or the hard surface of the rubber gym flooring
.Â I happen to sweat A LOT. Like, a lot. Â So much in fact, that by the time I’m doing a plank, my elbows begin sliding on the vinyl covering of a crosslink mat. Â As a result, I always go for the pebble embossed 3/8″ thick closed-cell pvc mats and the 5/8″ when available.Â The thickness, comfort, and grip it provides for me are just the thing needed to attempt a 90 second plank without sliding around once the muscles start to give.