Plank exercise is pertinent to a strong core, which is very important for a healthy body. By core we mean the muscles of our stomach, sides of the stomach and the back. This is important as it forms the main body and is the support system. A strong core keeps one strong from inside.
A strong core is also vital to build great abs whether one wants to have a 6-pack or a 8-pack abs. This is achieved with an overall strong core, supported by properly conditioned muscles. When it comes to exercising for the front and back muscles, the exercises slightly vary.
To exercise core muscles, isometric exercises do the work very well. Isometric exercises are those which do not need any weight and movement, but only the tension. The body weight itself applied in certain postures creates enough tension without movements.
Planks variations are an excellent set of exercises. Basically it is one exercise with different types of placement variations which work the muscles in different ways. Though planks work great for front, sides and back, they also makes our arms, shoulders, legs and feet stronger. If properly used, planks help to improve body posture too.
5 Most Effective Planks
This a collection of the top 5 plank variations that matter. These are most effective too. To make a abdominal plank effective it is important to do it for a higher period of time. If you are new to planks for abs, start with 20-30 seconds for one suspension. Slowly you becomes more experienced try to push one suspension for 1 minute.
Some of the experts or advanced users are able to push till 5 minutes (also called 5 minute plank) which is awesome. So a total of 20 minutes workout of 5 planks with 4 minutes on each changes how you look in one month. Planks make your muscles stronger and also generously burn calories.
Standard Plank / Shoulder Plank / Forearm Plank
Known by different names this is the most common plank exercise, and also very effective. It works up the abs, obliques, and the back muscles primarily. Also helps to keep your shoulders, legs, butt and feet more mobile and strong.
Instructions – Get into a straight posture with the body resting on toes and forearms. Keep your back straight parallel to ground, stomach pulled in tight and butt squeezed. Hold for a minimum 30 seconds. With experience you can slowly start holding for 2-5 minutes.
Full Plank / Straight Arm Plank / High Plank
Full plank is also called straight arm plank or high plank. Instead of resting body on forearms, you need to keep arms straight and rest yourself on hands. This way you stay higher up in the air, and can feel more tension in arms and shoulders.
Instructions – Get into a straight posture with the body resting on toes and hands with straight arms. Keep the back straight and parallel to the ground. Pull the stomach in, keep the butts tight and legs tensed. Hold for 30 seconds. Ultimate goal is to hold for 2-5 minutes.
Side Plank / Shoulder Side Plank
Side plank puts the tension on your sides, or your obliques. It works up the shoulders, obliques, front abs, back, leg muscles and keeps your ankle joints strong.
Instructions – Get on your side. Rest one end of the foot edge and the other side on your forearm. Keep the body straight and tensed up. Don’t let it sag. Hold for 30 seconds. Final goal is 5 minutes. Repeat for each side.
Full Side Plank
Full side plank is a cross of the high plank or full plank and the side plank. It gives strength to the sides, front, back, legs, ankles and ofcourse arms and shoulders.
Instructions – Keep the body on the side. Rest one end on the edge of the foot and the other end on the hand with arm straight and tensed. Keep the body straight, tensed. Don’t let it sag. Hold for 30 seconds. Holding for 2-5 minutes is the final goal. Repeat for each side.
Reverse plank is an upside down variation of the original plank. Its main contention is back muscles. In addition to that, it affects abs, obliques, shoulders, legs, arms, hands and feet.
Instructions – Keep your body on the heels with back facing the ground. The other end is balanced by hands facing the feet, arms straight and the body suspended and kept straight. Hold for 30 seconds. Try pushing for 2-5 minutes as you gain experience.
We have included two bonus exercises, one plank, and another half plank variation. These will help you keep full back, lower back and hip muscles tightened and worked up.
Hip raise is similar to plank, or one can say it’s a half plank. It helps to keep the lower back and hips strong, but also works up thigh muscles, obliques and abs.
Instructions – Lie on your back with arms by the sides firmly to the ground. Palms be facing down for grip. Gently fold legs a bit and keep feet to the ground. Now raise the hips so you can feel hips squeezed. Keep suspended and body tensed. Don’t sag. Hold for 30 seconds. Try for longer durations for up to 2-5 minutes.
Alternate Leg Arm Raise Plank / Plank with opposite limb extension
An advanced plank exercise, this should be practised once you are thorough with other planks for a few months. It is difficult to do, as balancing requires more strength and practice. This works the complete body in a very short period of time.
Instructions – To do this, first get into full plank/high plank position. Then slow lift your alternate leg/ hand in the air. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat for the other alternate combination. Repeat thrice for each combination.
5 Most Effective Plank Exercises For Strong 6 Pack Core
Learn the most effective 5 plank exercises with instructions and benefits. 2 Bonus exercises help work out back and hip muscles for a hot figure.