Try These Planks for More Ways to Work Your Core

Brett Williams, NASM
·3 mins read

From Men's Health

Sometimes, the best things you can do are the basics. That's relevant to your workouts, especially if you're stuck training with limited space, time, and/or equipment. You might not stimulate your brain as much as you do with other movements, but your muscles might be better off if you stick to the standards rather than attempting the latest flashy workout you find on social media without proper instruction. You'll also be in a better spot to gauge your overall fitness by sticking with simplicity.

"The classic plank is one of the best bodyweight core exercises," says trainer Charlee Atkins, C.S.C.S. "As a trainer you can immediately tell where a client needs some work, both in strength and mobility, when having them hold a plank (if they are able to hold a plank)."

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Photo credit: .

When you're training your core, the plank is one of the best, simplest movements you can do for a reason. You'll be engaging your entire core if you're doing the exercise properly, with your rhomboids, lats, lower back, abs, and glutes working hard to keep your spine in the right position. But that doesn't mean that you can't make this basic exercise a little more interesting. That full-core engagement remains essential while you do other offshoots of the plank, too. Meanwhile, you'll shift some of the focus during the exercise while providing some much needed variety to otherwise simple routines.

Atkins shared some of her favorite planks, none of which require anything but your bodyweight and some room to stretch out on the ground. If you're worried about your elbows, grab a yoga mat or towel, too.

Perform each exercise for 30 seconds

  • Side Plank

  • Classic Plank

  • Plank Rockers

  • Plank Reaches

Before you focus on side planks, plank rockers, or plank reaches, make sure you understand what you're doing with a standard plank first. That means you're able to achieve that full-core engagement discussed above—flat back, pulling the bellybutton into your spine, neutral head position—and that holding the position for more than 30 seconds to start is a challenge. If you can just sit on your elbows for minutes on end (or even longer), you're not doing the exercise properly for core engagement. Get the movement down, then add the other versions to your repertoire.

Once you're a plank pro, you can add hold each style for periods of up to a minute, or as long as you can maintain that engagement. Perform all of the planks in one session with limited rest between each move for three rounds for a solid, spine-safe core workout.

Want to learn more moves from Atkins? Check out our series full of her workout tips, Try Her Move. You can also take on her new 30 day challenge in our streaming All Out Studio app, check out her Le Sweat workout app, and follow her on Instagram to find out when she's hosting live workouts from her living room.

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