Plank exercises are largely considered to be one of the best and fastest ways to strengthen and tone your core muscles. There are dozens of variations of planks, creating endless exercise routine possibilities for killer abs and a strong, balanced core. Combining several plank exercises will ensure a more comprehensive routine to tighten and tone every angle of your midsection.

Plank benefits

Developing your six pack is only one of many benefits of planks. Planks also work your shoulders, back, glutes, and more, depending on the variation.  Other benefits include:

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1)      Increase your balance. Planks strengthen your abs, back, and other stabilizing muscles improving your balance when you’re stationary as well as when you’re moving.

2)      Improves posture.  Planks help you build the strength and endurance required to have and maintain good posturefor long periods of time whether sitting or standing. Good posture transfers the burden of bearing your weight from your spine to your muscles.

3)      Planks are for everyone. Because there are so many kinds of planks, there are at least a few planks that everyone can get on board with.  Planks use your own bodyweight, so their difficulty is automatically customized to you and your size. Beginners can choose an easier variation or hold for less time whereas advanced exercisers can choose harder variations or hold for longer. No matter how advanced you are, even the basic plank gets difficult if you hold it long enough!

4)      Assesses the status of your core. A weak core will likely lead to a life of back and hip problems, to say the least. How long we can hold the plank gives us an idea of what kind of condition our core is in.

5)      Helps with other exercises and activities. Developing a strong core makes doing other exercises, sports, and daily activities easier and safer. It’s hard to work your arms or legs if your core can’t support them. When you strengthen your center, your appendages can follow suit.

Planks exercise routine

Do these five plank variations in the order listed. Hold the static moves for as long as you can, aiming to increase your time as you are able. Aim for at least 8 repetitions (on each side) for the other variations and repeat all five moves for three rounds. For a more advanced workout, hold moves longer, do more repetitions, or repeat for more rounds.  This planks routine combines both static and dynamic plank moves to increase strength, endurance, and burn calories!

STATIC PLANK

STATIC PLANK

Planks are named as such because your body position is much like a plank of wood. Hold your body in a straight line from your head to your heels by engaging your abs, pulling in your belly button toward your spine, and keeping your neck neutral. Squeeze your glutes and keep your gaze on the floor in front of you. Do not let your hips rise or fall. Hold for as long as you can, gradually increasing as you get stronger.

MOUNTAIN CLIMBERS

planks exercise 2

From the Static Plank position, alternate pulling up one knee at a time towards your chest. For an extra challenge, move quickly between switching legs so it’s as though you are running up a mountainside. Keep your abs pulled in the entire time.

PLANK WITH LEG LIFTS

planks exercise 3

From the Static Plank position, contract your glutes and hamstrings to alternate lifting your heels towards the ceiling. Only go as high as you can without compromising your hip position. Do not raise or lower your hips or rotate them out to the sides.

PLANK JACKS

planks exercise 4

From the Static Plank position, simultaneously hop your feet out to the sides then quickly hop back to the start position. Continue to hop feet out and in with control (not slamming feet into the ground) and without flailing wildly out of the plank position. If hopping is not possible, individually step the feet (out, out, in, in).

STATIC SIDE PLANK

planks exercise 5

Turning onto your side, prop yourself up on your forearm with feet stacked and hips on the floor. Contract your body into a straight line from head to feet and hold. For an easier variation, prop yourself up using your forearm and bent knees. Don’t forget to repeat on the other side!

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