High planks performed sideways
"Plank exercises, primarily strengthens your core, this in turn can help reduce back pain. It works on your glutes, hamstrings, improves posture and balance," shares Shwetambari Shetty, Nike Elevated Trainer, India and Co-founder, The Tribe Fitness Club, Bangalore.
I had talked about the importance of plank position in my previous article. It is an important addition to your fitness routine. For those who have perfected the standard plank position already, it is about time you upped your game with some challenging variations. Our experts have put together five plank variations for advanced training purposes. Get down to mastering each one of these and flaunt a stronger core like never before.
"Doing the plank works on your core like nothing else. It works on the internal abdominal muscles of the body - Transverse Abdominal. The exercise also aids in achieving a better body composition. Our daily activities actively engage the core in most movements. Hence, a stronger core is an absolute necessity," quips Prosenjit Biswas, Fitness Manager, Skulpt.
If you've grown too comfortable with the standard plank position, we suggest you break the monotony and usher in some variety.
Top 5 Plank Exercises
1. High Plank/Straight Arm Plank
Keep your hands directly under the shoulders. Start in a push up position. Ensure that your head to toe is in one straight line, contract your abs and squeeze your butt. Begin by holding for 30 seconds, taking it up to a minute or more.
2. Plank with Arm/Leg Lift
Get to a high plank position, lift one leg, hold, bring it down and switch. Similarly, you can lift one arm at a time. For advanced training, you can lift the alternate leg and hand at the same time, hold and switch. Begin with 30 seconds, increasing the duration with the increase in your stamina.
3. Side Plank
From the high plank position, turn to one side, putting all the weight on one arm and raising the other arm up towards the sky. Keep your feet together, on top of each other, pull the torso up, head to toe in a straight line. Hold this for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side. Do this for 3 or 4 rounds with 30 seconds rest in between. Increase the duration with time.
4. Plank Jacks
Stay in the high plank position and now engaging your abs; jump the legs out and in. Keep your arms right beneath the shoulders, do not move them. Only the legs go out and in. This one uses the abs more than plank hold. Start with 30 counts, three sets. You can gradually increase the counts.
5. Commando Plank
Get into the standard plank position. Now, go into a push plank position using one hand at a time. Repeat on each sides for 30 seconds, three sets.
"Never forget to keep the stomach contracted while doing the exercise. Your back has to be parallel to the floor, shoulders and elbow need to be at 90 degrees. The larger the gap between the legs, the easier the movement will be. Hence, your workout with be more effective when your legs are not spread out wide," shared Prosenjit.
Things to Keep in Mind
- There should be absolutely no movement of your hip. When the hip moves (up or down), the body automatically transfers weight to the shoulders to stabilize this may lead to shoulder injury.
- The purpose of a plank is to work on the abdominal muscles. When the posture is incorrect, it automatically loses its efficacy.
- "Anyone who does not have the required stability should not attempt any form of plank variation to avoid falling down and injuring oneself,'' concluded Prosenjit.