The plank is a classic abs exercise that can help beginners develop their core strength and more advanced exercisers to burnout the entire abs complex at the end of a tough abs workout. The video includes 3 variations of the plank that you can use to build more core strength. There are more detailed descriptions of each variation below, as well as other plank variations and some ideas on how to incorporate the plank in your workout.
1) Basic Plank
The Basic Plank is simply holding your hips in the air with your core while resting your weight on your forearms and keeping your legs off the ground. An easier version of the plank is to put your knees against the ground instead of your toes. To complete a set, hold for as long as you can until you can’t maintain proper form (hips start to cave in), or for timed intervals. I want to emphasize that it’s important to stop the exercise not when you simply can’t hold for any longer, but when your form starts to deteriorate, which is usually at least a few seconds before you “fail”.
I would recommend beginners complete this exercise at the beginning of a core workout, and more advanced exercisers complete at the very end. So if you are completing let’s say 6-9 sets of abs, the plank should be the last couple sets to really help engage the entire abs complex and get a nice muscle burn. To make the exercise even more challenging, feel free to add a weighted plate (25lbs for example) on your lower back. To emphasize your lower back, you can perform the plank face up so your propping up your body with your elbows.
2) Plank with Alternating Leg Lifts
I like this exercise to help improve not only core strength, with more emphasis on the lower back and glutes, but mainly for balance. There are little muscles in your back and core that are engaged when completing this exercise. Shoot for 10-15 leg lifts each side controlling the leg lifts with a tempo of 1 second up, hold for another second in the air, then one second down.
3) Plank with Arms Extension
This version of the plank places extra emphasis on the triceps and shoulders to a lesser degree. This version, which can take your mind off the abs burn may be helpful if staying stationary in the plank position seems boring, or just plain painful (in terms of muscle burn of course). You should not feel any undue pressure on your lower back as you perform any of the plank exercises.
I hope this video and more detailed descriptions were helpful for you to begin incorporating this movement in your exercise regimen. There are few exercises that help engage the full core, both abs and lower back as effectively as the plank.