I used to be obsessed with crunches. I recall Brittany Spears circa early 2000’s saying that she did like 5,000 crunches a day. I immediately took that tid-bit of knowledge as a personal challenge from Miss Spears herself to top her insane workouts. I did get up to about 250 crunches a day, but the goal of 5,000 (or whatever actual number she named) quickly seemed impossible. It also did nothing but give me a killer 2-pack. I was completely at a loss for the other parts of my “pack.” But, now I have the answer to total core strength:
If i’m strapped for time, I know this basic exercise can give me a full body workout, with just a few modifications. It also helps to improve my upper body strength and keep those lovely cuts in my shoulders!
Here are some plank exercises that I highly suggest you try out to work the abs and sooo much more!
1. Basic Plank (Abs, butt, back, shoulders…)
The basic plank on hands, or elbows is always a great place to start. I like to hold this position as long as possible and then add 20 seconds to that. As a “friendly” reminder to myself to engage my abs, I like to lightly punch or poke my tummy every now and then to feel the muscles and keep everything as tight as possible. I’d say whatever muscles you can engage, squeeze them till you can’t anymore! Feel the burn in the shoulders, butt, quads and whatever else you got!
(Meet 16 year old Gabu Ury, female World Record Holder for holding an abdominal plank for an insane amount of time. She held a plank for 1 hour, 20 minutes, and 5 seconds!! WTH?! BEAST. The male record is over 5 hours… come on now!)
2. Side Planks (shoulders and obliques AKA love handles and more!)
Again these are effective on hands or your on elbows. Some people have weaker risks, so on the elbow might relieve some of that pain. The trick here is to get the hips up as high as possible. You can hold there and squeeze your abs till you drop, OR you can lift and lower ever-so-slowly without touching your hip to the floor. For more of a challenge, lift your top leg and hold. This will activate even more abdominal muscles and you WILL FEEL IT IN THE MORNING, TRUST ME!
3. Twisting Planks (obliques, AKA love handles and more!)
This is simply your regular plank on your hands and you just twist your hips to the floor. Just keep twisting until your sides fall off!
4. Plank with Leg Lift (abs and bootaay…and then some)
This is my all-time favorite plank move because it works the best part of the body: the butt! There are two modifications: (1) raise on leg up with toe pointed as high as you can, squeezing abs and butt. (2) raise leg slightly and step toe out to the side to form a right angle with legs. The second modification really works the obliques (sides/love handles) and the butt, and thus, it is my favorite.
5. Plank with Opposite Hand and Leg Reaches (lower abs, back, hamstrings…)
This is a move that I neglect to do often, but it targets the back and shoulders a bit more than a regular plank does. It also incorporates the hamstrings (back of leg). The back muscles are a huge part of building a strong core, and as you strengthen these, your ab workouts and overall core strength will improve as well!
(oh hey! That’s me!)
Give one or all of these a shot, while you’re reading all the amazing posts on this site! Let me know if you have modifications and send me your pictures! I’d love to see you all moving out there!!
Also, I did write this post while in a plank! (with a few breaks here and there)
*Keep it moving!
© June 2015