Marissa Nieves, Fitness Expert for the 28 Day Weight Loss Challenges has provided her key tips to perfecting the ultimate core exercise – the Plank.
Planks are one of the most popular core exercises on the planet for a variety of reasons. They go to extremes at working the transverse abdominus (muscles often missed in crunches and sit ups). However, they are not only brilliant for core strength and endurance, planks are full body exercises that also target the upper and lower legs, glutes, back, shoulders, upper and lower arms and chest (just to name a few).
Always make sure that your muscles are warmed up before performing planks to ensure your body is in its best possible state to increase strength and stability without causing injury.
How to Perform a Plank
- To perform a full plank hold, begin on your hands and knees with your hands flat on the floor at shoulder height, head facing down and spine in alignment.
- Slowly step back one foot at a time into full plank position, keeping feet shoulder width apart and your arms directly underneath your shoulders.
- Engage your core by pulling your belly button toward your spine and hold your torso strong and stable. Your back should be relatively flat, with only a very small natural curve in the lower back.
- Hold this position continuously for 1 minute or more, ensuring your lower back is supported with a strong core and spine is aligned.
- Take rest breaks throughout the plank hold if necessary.
Create a quick plank workout by performing 4 or more variations of planks for 1 minute or more within a 10 minute period.
To create a HIIT workout using planks, perform a 10 minute plank workout followed by 10 minutes of cardiovascular activity.
Perform this workout 3-4 times a week to increase flexibility, core strength, endurance and overall muscle strengthening and toning. Remember rest days are also important for muscle growth and recovery.
Simple variations include knee and elbow planks for beginners, intermediate planks such as full plank holds and those variations with arm raises or ball rolls or advanced planks such as plank with leg raises and side versions which further engage the obliques.
Choose 4 or more variations to create your 10 minute workout.
- Knee Side Plank
- Knee Side Plank with Arm Raise
- Elbow Plank Hold
- Elbow Plank Side Walk
- Full Plank Hold
- Plank with Ball Rolls
- Plank with Arm Raise
- Plank with Leg Raise
- Side Plank with Arm Raise
- Side Plank with Arm Lift Through
Move at a pace that suits your level of core strength and stability and make sure you perform all side planks on both sides to prevent muscle imbalance.
For the ultimate ab workout click HERE.