Everyone pines for a six-pack. People love to work their abs, and that’s good. Your core is the foundation from where all your power originates. Keep in mind that the core includes not only the abdominal muscles, but those of the back, glutes, spine, and hips (pelvic floor). Keeping all of your core muscles strong also helps to prevent injury in athletes.
Before I continue, let me first say that you cannot spot reduce body fat on your waist, or anywhere else, for that matter. You can strengthen your ab muscles with all of the exercises in the world, but without getting your heart-rate up through cardiovascular exercise, you won’t be able burn off the fat needed to see those strong abs you worked for. So do your cardio!
People who want that flat tummy often gravitate toward crunches, because that’s the most well-known ab move. However, research has shown that crunches are one of the worst ab moves in terms of how hard the obliques and rectus abdominus are worked. The crunch only works a small part of the core, repeatedly bends the spine, and burns few calories.
The plank, a stabilizing move, works your whole core, as well as the transverse abdominus and your upper body. It’s one of the best ab moves you can do. What’s more, the possibilities with plank variations are endless! Let’s first start with how to do a simple plank, because form is key:
With your forearms and toes on the floor:
- Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
- Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
- Hold this position for 10 seconds to start.
- Over time work up to 30, 45 or 60 seconds. Don’t forget to breathe!
You can also do a plank with your arms fully extended, which works more of the upper body:
If you are a planking pro and can hold the pose for more than a couple of minutes, the simple plank is really no longer very effective for you. It’s time to ramp it up a little! Aside from the regular push-up, which is a great move, try one of these other variations below. Happy planking!
Reach & Raise
Lateral Walking Plank
- Simultaneously cross your right hand toward the left as you step your left foot out to the left. Then simultaneously step your left hand and right foot to the left, returning to the plank position. Your hands move together as your feet step apart. Take two more steps in this direction, keeping your abs pulled toward your spine and your pelvis level. This completes one rep.
- Reverse directions, taking three steps the right.
Plank on Bosu Ball
Oblique Crunch Plank
Bonus: Jack Knife on Stability Ball