If you want to build strong core muscles, it’s a good idea to do the plank in your workout. The Plank is a static movement, meaning it’s not going to strain your back or increase your risk of pulling a muscle. But it’s also one of the most effective core workouts, as it engages not just your abs, but also your glutes, your lower back, your hips, your leg muscles, and the upper body muscles holding you in place. Here are a few of the best ways to do the Plank right:
This is probably the easiest version of the plank, so it’s ideal for newbies just getting used to the exercise. Get on your hands and knees, then step your feet back and hold. You need to stop your butt from rising as you hold yourself in the plank position, so keep pushing the hips toward the floor, and make sure your arms are directly beneath your shoulders.
Surprisingly, this is a slightly more difficult variation of the plank, though it looks like it should be easier. It takes less of a toll on your upper body, so it’s a better option if you just finished working out your arms, shoulders, or chest. Instead of resting on your hands, place your elbows on the ground directly beneath your shoulders. You’ll still need to fight to keep your butt from rising, but it’s easier on your upper body to hold this pose.
This one focuses more on the obliques than the abs, but it still hits your abs and back nicely. Simply get into the Push-up Plank Position, shift your weight onto your right foot and hand, and raise your left hand into the air. Your left foot will rest atop your right foot. This makes for one heck of an awesome workout for the muscles of your sides, and it hits your hips effectively as well.
To add a bit of cardio into the abs workout, do Plank Jacks, a core workout variation of Jumping Jacks. Get in the classic Plank Position and, without raising your hips, jump your feet wide, then back together again. Do this a few dozen times, and you’ll feel the burn in your glutes and core!
Plank with Arm and Leg Lift
Want to make things harder? Instead of just holding the Plank Pose, lift one arm and one leg off the ground. You’ll have to lift opposite limbs (so you keep your balance), but bring your arm to the level of your shoulder and lift your leg just higher than your head. Make sure to switch sides!
Here’s a workout where you can finally lift those hips high! The movement of this exercise is designed to hit your shoulders as well as your core, and it will work wonders to improve your flexibility. Get into the Forearm Plank position, with your elbows beneath your shoulders. Now, raise your hips as high into the air as you can, leaning back until your nose is directly over the crease of your elbows. Lower back down, hold for a second, then repeat.
Push-up Side Plank
Combining Push-ups with Side Plank makes for one heck of a wicked workout for your chest, abs, back, arms, shoulders, and sides. Get into the Push-Up Plank Position, do a Push-Up, then move into the Side Plank. Hold for a count of 5, then come back to Plank position, do another Push-up, and move into Side Plank on the other side. Try to do 10 to 15 push-ups, and you’ll feel the burn in no time!