Sure, you can hold a plank or side plank for eternity. But truth be told, you're not really training true abdominal strength. Want true abdominal strength? Then master a more vicious version of the plank that'll take exactly thirty seconds to do.
This plank just might make you a better runner too. Meet the Knee Drive Copenhagen plank series from Men's Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S, and don't expect it to be easy. Do expect it to challenge abs, obliques, and glutes, pushing your core strength to the next level. "Planks only work if they push you and you can't hold them for a minute," says Samuel. "If you can hold a plank for a lengthy period of time, it's time for a more difficult variation."
You'll get that with this plank variation, which starts with mastery of the Copenhagen plank, already a vicious side plank. "The Copenhagen on its own challenges your core to stabilize you in different planes," says Samuel. "By adding knee drive, we help make this a move that translates even more to your running stride."
The addition of a knee drive motion also forces your core to constantly make microadjustments to how it stabilizes. "When the knee is in the front, there's a lot more anti-rotational stimulus," says Samuel. "That's a lot to fight. Drive it behind, and you have to work your adductors that much harder."
The entire package builds well-rounded core strength and attacks much-forgotten inner thigh muscles too. The best part: You need no equipment beyond a chair, Ottoman, step, or bench.
Place your left foot on a bench, box or Ottoman, right elbow on the bench. Press into side plank position.
Drive your right knee forward. Squeeze your inner thigh muscles hard so that right thigh stays parallel to the ground. This is the start.
Drive your right leg backward as if running, then drive it forward. Flex your toes as you do. Do 8 reps.
After the 8th rep, hold the knee in the forward position. Hold for 10 seconds.
That's 1 set. Do 3 sets per side.
The Knee-Drive Copenhagen Plank Series can be used in a variety of ways. If you have time for a single ab exercise after a full workout, you can do three sets per side of it. Or you can use it as the lead ab exercise in a more intensive core workout. You can also do it if you have 6 or 7 minutes free, and just want to make your core burn. "You're training muscles that you generally want strong," says Samuel, "so you can never do too much of this move.
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