Six plank variations for rock-hard abs
It doesn’t matter whether you’re an average person or a high-caliber athlete, a strong core is essential to increase strength and balance, and can even help prevent injuries. A great way to strengthen the core is to learn to add planks to your daily routine, but don’t limit yourself to just one type; try these six variations for maximum results.
The traditional plank is the most basic and is a great way for beginners to build limit strength for the abdominals, lower back, shoulders and glutes. To get started, simply get into the push-up position on the floor, but bend your arms 90 degrees and rest your body on your toes and your forearms. Keep your elbows directly under your shoulders and angle your hips and butt slightly upward while flexing your abs. Hold this position for as long as you can, and once you are able to do 90 seconds or more, move on to the next plank variation.
Tips: To get the full effect from this exercise, make sure your weight is evenly distributed on the tips of your toes and your forearms, and be sure not to let your body sag or push backward toward your feet.
After mastering the basic plank, use a Bosu ball to force the body to balance and stabilize while strengthening the same muscles as above. To try this exercise, place a Bosu ball on the ground with the half circle part of the ball face down. Get into a plank position with each hand placed on the outside rim of the bosu. Position your body so your toes are on the floor and your shoulders are directly over your hands. Bend your elbows slightly and lift your hips and glutes upward while tightening your abs and midsection. Hold for as long as you can, adding a couple seconds each week, and when you’re ready try the push-up planks
Tips: Make sure you don’t lock your elbows and grip the hard outer frame of the Bosu with your palms facing in.
Plank to push-ups
Start in the traditional plank position with your elbows and toes placed firmly on the floor, but instead of holding still, you pick up your right arm, place your palm on the floor and push up. As the right side of your body ascends, pick up your left forearm and place the left palm on the floor and do the same until you are in the push-up position. Then lower the right forearm back on the floor followed by the left forearm, and repeat the entire process for the desired amount of reps or until you reach failure.
Tips: Try to extend each arm all the way before picking up the other elbow to make this exercise more difficult.
Lie on the right side of your body with your legs straight and knees locked. Prop your body up off the ground with your forearm placed directly under your shoulder against the floor. Raise your hips until your body is straight, and tighten your abs and hips, holding your position for as long as you can.
Tips: Keep your elbow on the ground and locked at 90 degrees and don’t allow your shoulder or hips to sag toward the floor.
This variation is often overlooked, but is excellent for building lower back, abdominal and hamstring strength. To try it, lock your knees and place your hands and heels on the floor behind your body with your chest and quads parallel to the ceiling. Hold your hips and glutes up until you feel the burn and hold it for as long as you can.
Tips: Push your heels into the floor raising your hips toward the ceiling, and squeeze your hamstrings and glutes at the same time.
Swiss ball planks
To begin this exercises, place your elbows on a Swiss ball and your toes on the floor in a plank position. Be sure to spread your arms out approximately 10 to 12 inches with your body forming a straight line from your feet to your shoulders. Squeeze your abs and glutes and hold your position until you can no longer stabilize yourself.
Tips: To pick the correct ball size, use the 65 cm if you are 5-foot-4 and above, and the 55 cm if you are 5-foot-3 or less. To make this exercise harder, try putting your toes on a bench instead of the floor with your hips suspended in midair.
Planks don’t have to be boring. Try the variations and you are sure to get great results.