Plank on It
Susan Hoff
February 10, 2021

A stronger core can help strengthen the rest of your body. You can plank on it.

Usually known as the tag-on trend at the end of a workout, ab days can push us to our limits—so far that we might even skip them all together in the name of "saving time." But don't be tempted to skip the ab-burning and core-strengthening sessions. These are the ones that pull the whole body together. The plank in particular ignites your core while also building strength in your back, shoulders, and legs. Try infusing these five plank exercises into your weekly workout routine to efficiently build strength throughout your whole body. Each exercise includes a modification to make the exercise either harder or easier.

1. Plank Hold

The original plank. It does not get anymore classic than this. While it is a fan favorite, it is well-known and well-liked for a reason. It uses all the muscles in your core, including the rectus abdominus, transverse abdominus, internal and external obliques, hips, and back. Choose to hold yourself in high plank or on your forearms in a low plank and remain in this position for as long as you can. Make sure you keep your shoulders directly above your wrists or elbows depending on which plank you choose and keep your head in line with your spine. Do not drop your head or look up as this is bad for your neck. Keep this form with all of the following plank exercises. The better your form, the better your core conditioning will turn out to be.

2. Side Plank

From a low plank position, flip over onto your right forearm and the outer edge of your right foot. Your left foot should stay stacked on-top of your right. Hold this for as long as you can. Once you drop, flip over and perform the same hold on your left side.

Challenge yourself - Dip your hips down to touch the ground and raise them back up. Shoot for 20 on each side.

Pace yourself - Keep your lower knee on the ground to increase your stabilization.

3. Shoulder Builders

Yikes, this plank exercise can torch your shoulders. Start in a high plank position and make your way into low plank one arm at a time. Then come back up to high plank. It seems easy enough, but you will be feeling it tomorrow. Shoot for 20 full reps.

Challenge yourself - Add a pushup at the top.

Pace yourself - Keep your knees down for a modified plank. Lift your knees at the top and hold a high plank for a few seconds in order to help build the strength you need to eventually perform the non-modified version of shoulder builders.

4. Plank Jacks

Boost your cardio while burning your core with these bad boys. Hold a high or low plank and hop your feet out wide and back together. Think of them like horizontal jumping jacks. Make sure to land softly in order to protect your knees and keep your back straight — do not let your low back arch up or droop down. Shoot for 20 full reps.

Challenge yourself - Bend one knees and bring it to the outside of its corresponding elbow after each plank jack. Alternate knees.

Pace yourself - Instead of popping your feet out, tap one foot out at a time. This lessens the intensity of the exercise while still making you focus on core stabilization.

5. Low Plank Leg Lifts

Never neglect an opportunity to tone and shape the booty. Hold yourself in a low plank position while raising and lowering one leg at a time. Squeeze your booty at the top. This is a small-movement exercise. You only need to lift your leg a fraction of a ways up in order to feel the burn. Again, keep that back straight!

Challenge yourself - Perform this exercise in a high plank and dip your upper body into a pushup as your lift each leg. Talk about a full-body burn!

Pace yourself - Keep your knees down for a modified plank as you lift each leg.

Oath & Grind By Susan Hoff
Run fast, spin hard, lift heavy, work out like crazy. Whatever you do, Oath & Grind is the destination for all things fitness, nutrition, and life.
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