Stiff as a Board

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Do you plank? That is kind of a weird question to be asked. When someone first posed it to me I had no idea what they were talking about. But that was years and many planks ago.

Now everyone planks. Men, women, young, and old all plank because plank-styled exercises are fantastic for building the core muscles and making the central area of the body stronger and toned. Planks are great because they don’t just work the front abs but also muscles in the hips, lower back, and the side abdominals as well.

Also another great thing about this type of exercise is that it is low impact and has a lot of variety. With that in mind we have some great plank options for people to use in creating a great abdominal and core workout.

Plank Options

  • Elbow Plank – This is a beginner level plank. You assume a push-stiff as a boardup position but instead of straight arms, you bend at the elbow at a 90 degree angle and rest your weight on your forearms. The body is kept flat like a board with the abs, hips, and lower back all tight to keep the position. Usually you hold this position for 30 to 60 seconds.
  • Standard Plank – This is the same as an Elbow Plank, except your arms are straight and your weight is supported by your hands and feet. From both this and the Elbow Plank you can do a few variations to make them more difficult.
  • Plank Jacks – You can do this from either the elbow or standard plank. While holding your body steady jump both feet out wide like a jumping jack then jump them back together. The entire time you need to keep your core tight and back as flat as possible.
  • Knee Thrust Plank – Start in a standard plank position. Draw your right knee up to your chest while balancing on your left foot. Straighten your right leg out then repeat with your left. Keep alternating the entire time.
  • Spider-Man Plank – This is like the knee-thrust plank except instead of bringing your knee up you instead bring it out and around to touch your elbow. You will look like Spider-Man when he does his wall-crawling thing. Alternate legs one at a time.
  • T-Planks – Start in a standard plank. Lift your right hand off the ground and twist your right shoulder toward the ceiling while rotating your arm out and up to point to the ceiling. You will twist your hips as well and balance on one hand and your feet. This exercise is a killer on working the muscles that help with torso rotation. When your hand it straight overhead your body should look like a “T”. Reverse the motion back to standard and then repeat with the other side.
  • Side Plank – Lay on your side with your feet on top of each other and your arm underneath you. Raise yourself up so that your weight is supported by your elbow and forearm, raise your hips off the ground, and balance on the side of your foot. Use your core to keep your body flat and place your top hand on your hip. Hold this position for the allotted time then roll over and do the other side.

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