Time To Plank Up Your Abs

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Performing solo crunches for building abs is like doing bench press, with no back or shoulder work. You stand a major chance of losing out on some fundamental strength gains, leading to an imbalanced and underdeveloped physique.

Plank abs

How to do Plank?

To start, come onto your hands and knees in table position. Make sure your arms are right under your shoulders and your fingers are pointing straight ahead. Now, walk your feet backwards in the formation, plank (high push up position). Make sure your  torso, hips and legs all in one line. Don’t let your hips drop or lift too high. Press your hands into the floor and lift up into your shoulders. Draw in your bellybutton towards your spine and stretch through your heels. Work up to holding for a slow count of 10. This exercise is good for your arms and upper body as well as your abs!

Master the basic front plank before moving on to more advanced variations, because it teaches the foundational cues that make all planking movements effective. Done consistently and correctly, it will confer strength benefits that improve your big lifts and general athleticism. On the other hand, poor formation can end up aggravating low back problems.

Note: If your upper body is challenged in this exercise, you can make it easier by coming onto your knees until you build the strength to perform it with your legs extended off the ground. Do not to shrug the shoulders toward your ears. If you do it right, your body should form a straight line from your head to your ankles.

If you can hold a good form plank for 45-60 seconds without too much quivering and grunting, you have earned the privilege of moving on to more difficult variations.

Plank with a Variation

  • Plank with one leg off the ground

Start by coming onto your hands and knees in table position. Make sure your arms are right under your shoulders and your fingers are pointing straight ahead. Now walk your feet backwards into plank (high push up position). You want your torso, hips and legs all in one line- don’t let your hips drop or lift too high. Press your hands into the floor and lift up into your shoulders. Take your bellybutton towards your spine and stretch through your heels. Now lift your right leg off the ground so it is parallel to the floor. Hold for a slow count of 5 and then release your right foot to the floor. Repeat the exercise on your left side.

Plank abs

For the body saw, set up in a plank position but place your feet on a stability ball or in a suspension trainer. If you don’t have those, you could try furniture sliding pads, or even just a pair of paper plates. Once you’re in position, slowly begin moving your body forward and backward using your forearms. The movement will become much more difficult the farther your elbows are from the center of your body.

Start by coming onto your hands and knees in table position. Make sure your arms are right under your shoulders and your fingers are pointing straight ahead. Now walk your feet backwards into plank (high push up position). You want your torso, hips and legs all in one line- don’t let your hips drop or lift too high. Press your hands into the floor and lift up into your shoulders. Take your bellybutton towards your spine and stretch through your heels. Now extend your right leg directly out in front of you. Keep your hips level. Hold for a slow count of 5 and then release your right foot to the floor. Repeat the exercise on your left side.

Start by coming onto your hands and knees in table position. Make sure your arms are right under your shoulders and your fingers are pointing straight ahead. Now walk your feet backwards into plank (high push up position). You want your torso, hips and legs all in one line- don’t let your hips drop or lift too high. Press your hands into the floor and lift up into your shoulders. Take your bellybutton towards your spine and stretch through your heels. Now lift your right leg off the ground so it is parallel to the floor and at the same time extend your left arm directly out in front of you. Keep your hips level. Hold for a slow count of 5 and then release your right foot to the floor and left hand to the floor. Repeat the exercise on you’re the other side with your left leg and right arm.

From a plank position. Shift onto the outside edge of your left foot, and stack your right foot on top of the left. Now swing your right hand onto your right hip, turn your torso to the right as you do, and support the weight of your body on the outer left foot and left hand. Make sure that the supporting hand isn’t directly below its shoulder; position the hand slightly in front of its shoulder, so the supporting arm is angled a bit relative to the floor. Straighten the arm by firming the triceps muscle, and press the base of the index finger firmly against the floor. Firm the scapulas and sacrum against the back torso. Strengthen the thighs, and press through the heels toward the floor. Align your entire body into one long diagonal line from the heels to the crown. If you’d like you can stretch the top arm toward the ceiling, parallel to the line of the shoulders. Keep the head in a neutral position, or turn it to gaze up at the top hand. Stay in this position for 15 to 30 seconds. Come down and relax.

These plank exercises allow for a greater ab-challenge, and can be done at home with a stability ball, foam roller and dumbbells.

Source:

  • 50 of the Best Core Exercises to Strengthen, Tone and Flatten your Belly! by Howard VanEs, M.A. Women Fitness recommends this book.

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