Planking is a common feature in many an ab workout. It is such a good core move as your upper and lower abdominals, and obliques, as well as your chest, arms and legs. Modifications on the plank can work out even more muscles, so I am sharing five of the moves that I think are most effective for strengthening your core.
Always make sure that you have got the basics sorted. Incorrect form can, like many abdominal exercises, strain your lower back. Resist the temptation to either sag or stick your hips up in the air -you want to keep your body straight, from your head to your ankles. Stack your shoulders above your elbows with forearms resting out in front of you or touching together. Step your feet back behind onto your toes, lightly engaging your abdominal muscles. If this is too difficult, drop to balance on your knees. Build up how long you can hold the plank -30 seconds, 1 minute, 3 minutes and beyond!
Side Plank Twists
I have to admit, I often struggle with side planks. My ankles just always seem to get in the way! Like the classic plank, you want to form a straight line. Lying on your side, rest on your lower forearm and push your hips up. Either stack your ankles, or bend the top leg behind you. Raise your upper arm straight up so that your body is facing forwards. Swing your upper arm down beneath your body so that your body twists down. This targets your obliques and stretches the upper back. Aim for 10 reps on each side.
My favourite! Depending on how fast to choose to go, this move can get your heart rate right up, so is great for circuits. Hold a press up plank position, with hands directly below shoulders. Bend your right leg forwards so that the knee touches the right elbow, or comes just outside. Straighten, and repeat with your left side. Once you’ve got the hang of it, start to speed up. I like to do 20 reps at a fairly fast pace as part of a set of ab exercises. To also target your obliques, bend the knee towards your opposite elbow.
This is as tough on your arms as your core! Start in the classic plank position. Place your right hand on the ground where your forearm was, and push to straighten the arm. Repeat with the left arm so that you are in a press up plank, making sure that your hands are still below your shoulders. Come back down, right arm first. Repeat with the left hand, keeping proper form. Try one minute on and one minute off for ten minutes, or do a single set until failure.
Start standing, legs shoulder width apart. Bend forward as if to touch your toes (don’t worry, you don’t have to reach all the way!). Now reach forward with your hands and walk them forwards. Keep going until you are in a plank press up position, or slightly beyond. Then, walk back up to standing. Try five sets of five reps.