Fitness and Training

Plank Exercises to Add to Your Ab Workout

Planking isn’t just some trendy exercise—it’s been proven to serve as a very effective method to tone, tighten, and strengthen your core. Adding planks to your regular fitness routine will work your abs from top to bottom and your entire core from front to back. However, doing a basic plank day after day will most likely get boring and can even become less effective over time. That’s why you need to change it up and add different plank exercises into the rotation, and why we’re providing you with a solid list of choices to help you develop a solid midsection. These exercises can be done at home, at the gym, or outside.

What Is a Plank, Anyway?
The plank is a basic isometric exercise that requires you to contract the muscles of your core and maintain that contraction for as long as possible while staying in a stationary position. You rest your upper body on your forearms while your toes are hip-width apart as if you were doing a push-up. Even though doing the basic plank can be an intense challenge for many people, it won’t take a toll on the joints and there is minimal chance of a muscle injury since they aren’t stretching or contracting repeatedly. Some advanced versions do call for movement, but there isn’t as much action involved as there is in movements like a squat or a clean and press.
What Are the Benefits of Planks?
Why should you even plank to begin with? There are several great reasons. First, there is the convenience of doing them. You don’t need a bench or any other form of equipment. You can plank anytime you want, almost anywhere you want—all you need is open space and time.

Secondly, while the plank is associated with the abs, it can also provide great benefits to the lower back. Having a strong core will protect your spine, which can help prevent back pain or decrease back pain you may already be dealing with. Doing planks regularly can also work to improve your posture, as well as warm up your core for other exercises, helping to prevent potential injury.

Expert tip: Even as little as a 5-pound plate can make a difference. So don’t feel like you have to jump straight up to a 45. Also, don’t try to find a way to do this on your own. If you don’t have a partner to help you with the weight plate, use a weighted vest.

 Plank Jack
Now we’re going to add some movement to the equation. This is a great warm-up choice for runners, athletes about to train legs, or as an impromptu cardio challenge. You can find many ways to add this one into your routine.

Assume the high plank position as described above. Jump with your feet and kick them out to the sides while trying to keep your upper body stationary. Once your feet touch the ground, jump again to bring them back to the starting position. Repeat for the desired reps or time limit.

Expert tip: Ankle weights will make this one more interesting, as well. Once you feel comfortable with the form, try to do as many as you can in 30 seconds, then 60, then up to 2 minutes.

Source: Active

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