Basic or not, planks likely top your list as one of those crazy challenging exercises we love to hate, am I right? Our go-to standard plank can sometimes get a little repetitive, so why not spice it up? Each of the below featured plank variations will challenge your body in completely different ways, helping you conquer that next personal best.
Get into the groove with a quick total core warm up exercise like cat-cow pose: On a mat, get on all fours, and while rounding your spine to the sky, inhale deeply. At the top of your breath, exhale deeply, thinking about every inch of your core on the way down. Cycle through these steps for a few rounds, making it your own for a complete core (and shoulder!) warm-up.
These trendy yet challenging variations will have you finding new respect for your seemingly basic pose almost immediately. Each pose is designed to challenge a different part of your body, so give each a try, then incorporate it into your workout routine to see a big boost to your weakness in about a month. If you’ve mastered it, awesome! Make the pose your own, and design a new challenge point that’s uniquely you.
The birddog plank is one of the best ways to get your balance in check. Targeting your inner core, you’ll gain deep strength that contributes to your ability to rock those positions in class! The key to targeting these muscles is tensing up your core as tightly as possible, balancing on one opposite foot and hand. For better balance, make sure your glutes are squeezed as you raise your leg, and your hand and shoulders are pressed down into the ground. Your shoulders get a little bit of the action as well, helping you get better shoulder mobility as you extend your hand out in front of you.
If you fall, that’s okay and totally normal. Take your challenge point head on and see how quickly your balance becomes a new talent! Right after your warm up, dive into this exercise for four rounds of at least eight repetitions. For a lower-impact variation, start the exercise from an all-fours position and extend your opposite arm and leg.
Now that you’re warmed up and ready to go, slide right into the walking plank. It targets more of your shoulders, arms, and abs, forcing you to stabilize as you walk your hands away from your body, stretching out your reach from your hands back to your feet. Keeping your core tightly engaged, walk your hands forward, while keeping your feet planted together in the same spot. Once you’ve taken about five steps forward with your hands, hold the extended hollow position for three to five seconds, then walk back those same repetitions in the opposite direction. Cycle through at least five rounds.
If your goal is to challenge your waist, this is for you! Static (isometric holds) planks allow you to achieve maximum muscle fatigue quickly, so you’ll start seeing results quickly with the below sequences. Starting from a low plank, bring one arm under your body, raising your other arm to the sky. Squeezing your glutes and core, lift your hips as high as possible, and hold. For an added challenge, try raising your top leg to the sky to test your balance skills. To tone your legs and hips, add in some toe taps to the front and rear of your body. It’s important to check your form when it comes to your shoulders; make sure your elbow is directly underneath your shoulder joint to keep you injury-free. Take any of these variations, and hold for four rounds of 30 seconds for a killer curve sculpting session.
Work your way through all three of these transformational moves for a new and improved plank boost to your daily workout routine. Your new found level of confidence will be there with you to help you along the way!