Planks are an excellent way to tighten your core, slim your abs, and shape your waistline. When done in the proper form, a plank will tone your back, glutes, hamstrings, arms, and shoulders at the same time. The basic forearm plank is the best place to start, but you can get even more benefits out of your planks by trying one of the many variations we have listed below.
Start by doing some dynamic stretches or joint mobilizers, such as knee circles, hip circles, arm circles, or bodyweight lunges with a slight torso rotation. It is quite easy in most gyms to find a seat or bench to use as a place to get in a few very effective stretches while you are preparing to do planks. Activating your glutes before doing planks is important because most people have very underactive glutes. When your glutes do not function properly, you do not perform as well as you could. Performing some basic glute activation during your warm up will help to loosen your hips and prepare your system for the plank movement.
Many experts now recommend planking over push-ups, crunches, or sit-ups, since planks put less strain on your spine and hip flexors while building stronger core muscles. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), building and creating a strong core can help prevent back injuries and improve stability. Good core strength not only improves your balance and stability, it also helps to prevent lower back injury. Also, having strong core muscles will make it easier for you to do most physical activities. Planks will certainly help you improve your abs, but building up your core strength is going to take more than just learning planks.
You also need to make sure you are doing enough other core exercises with the proper form that are targeting your rectus abdominis specifically and nurturing the growth of all of those muscle groups in your core properly. Doing planks in the proper form will help you start getting some of these benefits. A good way to add extra bulk and power when you are doing planks is to try our Mass Stack T-Boosted Strength & Lean Muscle Builder in combination with your plank work and possibly even in consultation with a personal trainer. Follow the step by step instructions for each of the variations below, and be sure to complete the full range of motion for each exercise that you do.
Try holding your plank position for 20 to 30 seconds, building up to a minute or longer. Let your eyes fall toward your mat, approximately one foot in front of you, so that your neck is in a neutral position.
Now that you know how to do a traditional plank (or standard plank), you can transition between forearm and full plank.
Try these slowly first to master the transition. Pick up the pace according to your comfort level. Aim to repeat for 30 seconds for one set, performing up to three sets. Build until you can perform the plank for one minute or longer, as long as you can safely hold proper form. Minimize swaying your hips as you alternate sides.
When you are comfortable with the side plank position, try lifting from a position of stacked feet instead of from your knees. Then, you can increase difficulty and build greater stability with variations like arm reaches, or raising and lowering your hip. Hold one arm and leg up like a starfish or add a knee pull to challenge yourself further (you can even hold dumbbells if you like). Be sure to work on your muscle tone by completing up to ten reps of each movement with your left leg and with your right leg.
Walking sideways with your plank will go a long way toward strengthening your core as well as your upper and lower body muscle groups. These muscles include the deltoids, glutes, quads, hamstrings, and even calves.
Complete five steps to the right and then five again to the left for one set. Beginners should aim for three sets and slowly work up to five sets.
By building your strength, you will start gaining greater body awareness and control. This full-body exercise targets several muscle groups, including the glutes, hamstrings, abs, obliques, triceps, and shoulders. You can either do this exercise on a mat or with a foam roller. Using the foam roller is a more advanced form of the exercise. It challenges your triceps while helping alleviate wrist strain.
Focus on engaging the back of your arms and think of lifting up off of the ground in order to relieve any pressure that has built up on your wrists. Take long deep breaths, and if your lower back starts to arch at all, remember to take a break.
Start with up to ten reps on each side. You should be aiming for up to twenty reps on each side as you get stronger. A little bit of rocking is fine, but avoid any rotation or sagging in the hips in order to really work your obliques, abs, and lower spine.
Plank jacks should be performed quickly, in a similar style to regular jumping jacks. Aim for three sets, 60 seconds each, or do as many as you can safely perform with excellent plank form. Throughout the exercise, be careful not to raise or lower your hips out of the straight-line position.
Planks with shoulder taps work several muscle groups, including your hip flexors, abs, back, glutes, hamstrings, and quads.
We recommend that you start with 10 to 15 reps, followed by a rest, and then repeat for another set. Aim to build up strength so you can perform sets lasting 30 seconds each. For more of a challenge, come off your knees to a regular full plank. As you get more advanced, bring your feet together. This makes maintaining stability more difficult.
Mountain climbers can activate your whole body, which makes them a really effective abs workout combined with a sharp burst of cardio. Be sure to keep your wrists, arms, and shoulders stacked throughout the entire exercise.
As you become more comfortable, you can pick up speed. The faster you go, the more cardiovascular benefit you gain, but be sure to still safely maintain proper form.
Swiss ball jack-knives are very good ways to build strength and stability. It is important to keep a neutral spine throughout this exercise.
Initially, you can try for two sets of up to six repetitions. Moving the ball further back increases the resistance on your abs.
It sounds easy enough to do a plank. Just raise your body off the ground and hold that position for 30 seconds or more. But because planking uses so many muscle groups in one exercise, it is actually a deceptively good core workout. With all of the variations we’ve listed above, you can keep challenging yourself, especially if you are trying to lose bodyweight by doing planks and other strength training. Planks are especially good as part of a HIIT training program.
To start losing even more body fat, you might also want to try a customized supplement such as our SHREDDED-AF, which is an advanced multistage thermogenic that focuses on boosting your metabolism, suppressing your cravings, and providing all-day energy and mental clarity without a loss of energy. One way to develop an effective nutrition and workout plan is to take a closer look at how a lot of male models work to maintain their bodies with a typical two-day exercise routine for staying fit and lean, as well as some basic diet and supplement rules.
You’ll find that a balanced and protein-heavy diet can help keep the fat off and lose more weight, which will lead to better overall wellness. Try to gradually increase the number of planks you do each session and the amount of time you stay in a plank (or modified plank) position over the course of time. We recommend starting with just one plank a day and building up from there as you increase your plank hold time in a gradual way.
A proper warm up is essential before you start any of these exercises. Even an easy warm up with light dumbbells really does get your body prepared and raises your core temperature to make your muscles, ligaments, tendons, and joints more flexible and mobile to improve your performance and reduce the risk of injury.
It also increases blood flow, which supports your body during exercise by better facilitating the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to your muscles. If you plan to do a lot of plank exercises regularly, always remember to warm up correctly before and after each workout session. This helps reduce your risk of experiencing back pain or other injuries. Your results will be highly influenced by the quality of your warm ups, and also on how well you can recover from your plank workouts.