Fitness enthusiasts the world over recognize that planks are the gold standard when it comes to core-strengthening exercises. While the standard plank can definitely firm up your abs, there are quite a few plank variations that can add some extra mojo to your core workout. Below are five fun and effective plank variations that will help you develop a killer core.
1. Shoulder Touch Planks
You will start off by assuming the standard plank position, which basically looks like a push-up at the peak of its movement. Your hands should be directly beneath your shoulders, your back should be straight and your legs should be straight with knees off the floor. If you're doing it right, your entire body should be in a flat, straight line – you know, like a plank. Now lift your right hand off the floor and bring it across your body to tap your left shoulder.
Put your hand back down and do the same thing with your left hand, bringing it across to tap your right shoulder. It can be tempting to begin rocking your hips back and forth as you perform the movements in an attempt to stabilize your body, but try to resist this motion. Keep your hips and back stable by imagining that you're balancing a full glass of water on your back. Repeat the shoulder touches slowly and smoothly for about 30 seconds.
2. Side Planks
Begin in a standard plank position, and then bring your feet together until your heels are touching. Now tilt your body to the left-hand side while extending your right arm towards the ceiling. At the peak of the movement, you should be balanced
3. Dolphin Planks
Get into standard plank position, but with your elbows and forearms on the floor. Now raise your hips so that your body assumes an inverted "V" shape, like how a dolphin looks when it jumps out of the water. Lower your hips until you're back in plank position to complete one rep. Try doing three sets of 15 reps.
4. Plank Jacks
Plank jacks are great because they combine core-strengthening movements with cardiovascular exercise. If you can imagine doing a horizontal jumping jack, that's pretty much what plank jacks are all about. Assume the standard plank position with legs together, and push off with your toes to spread your legs apart like a jumping jack. Now bring your legs back together to complete the movement. Try doing three sets of plank jacks for 20 seconds apiece.
5. Single-Leg Plank
Begin in standard plank position. While keeping your back as flat as possible, lift one of your legs up toward the ceiling, making sure to keep both the extended leg and the stabilizing leg straight. Hold your leg in the extended position for a couple of seconds, and then gently bring it back down and repeat on the other side. Try three sets of 10 repetitions (5 for each leg).
These plank variations are a great way to add some variety to your workout, and they can definitely get the job done when it comes to sculpting and toning those abs. Try one of these exercises today to take your core strength to the next level!