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Strengthen your core with Planks

In this article we are going to be discussing one of the most effective core strengthening and toning exercises – planks and then explaining how you can use planks to get those coveted six pack abs.

Plank Exercise

Why Planks?

As mentioned above, planks are one of the best exercises for your core. They also have a number of unique benefits over other core strengthening exercises which I have listed below:

1) They’re Kind To Your Back

If you have lower back problems, many of the traditional ab and core exercises such as crunches and back extensions can be difficult and painful to perform. However, planks don’t require you to bend your lower back and as a result they provide you with a pain free way to exercise your core. 

2) They Strengthen Your Entire Core

Most core exercises focus specifically on your abs or your lower back. As a result, you need to perform multiple exercises to get a full core workout. However, planks work your entire core, so are the only exercise you need to get a full core workout. This makes them much more efficient than the vast majority of other core exercises out there.

Plank anatomy


Plank Variations 

While there’s no denying that planks give your core a thorough workout, they can be quite tough for beginners. Additionally, once you get used to planks, you may want to change them up slightly and make them more challenging. If so, check out the three variations below:

1) Beginner Variation – Bent Knee Plank 

The bent knee plank is a great exercise to start off with before you transition into the full plank. To perform the bent knee plank, get in the standard plank position but instead of straightening your legs and raising your knees off the floor, keep your knees bent and touching the floor, then hold the plank for as long as you can. By bending your knees, you take some of the bodyweight out of the plank and make it slightly easier to perform. 

2) Intermediate Variation – Single Arm & Leg Plank 

If you can hold a regular plank for 1 minute or longer, this single arm and leg plank is a great way to make it tougher. To perform the single arm and leg plank, get in the normal plank position, then raise your right arm and left leg off the floor and hold the plank for as long as you can. Then have a short rest, get back in the normal plank position, raise your left arm and right leg off the floor and hold the plank for as long as you can. By performing planks on just one arm and one leg, you place extra pressure on your core and give it a really challenging workout. 

3) Advanced Variation – BOSU & Stability Ball Plank 

If you’re really confident with your planking ability, this BOSU and stability ball plank will test your core strength to the max. To perform the BOSU and stability ball plank, grab a BOSU ball and stability ball and place them on the floor about four feet apart. Then place your feet on the stability ball and your forearms on the BOSU ball, tighten your core and hold the plank for as long as you can. By planking on an unstable surface, you bring all your core muscles into play for the ultimate test while also working your balance at the same time. 

Plank Workouts 

Planks do a fantastic job of toning and strengthening your core. However, if your fitness themed New Year’s resolution is to develop your overall fitness, planks are just one part of the puzzle and you need to be incorporating them into a workout routine that matches your fitness goals. For the best results, you should create your own personal workout but if you need some ideas, here are a few plank based workouts to get you started: 

Workout 1 – Cardio & Core Strength Plank Workout

  1. Hold a plank or any of the plank variations listed above for as long as you can.
  2. Stand up and do 10 jumping jacks.
  3. Lie down and hold a left side plank for as long as you can.
  4. Stand up and do 10 jumping jacks.
  5. Lie down and hold a right side plank for as long as you can.
  6. Stand up and do 10 jumping jacks.
  7. Lie down and hold a reverse plank for as long as you can.
  8. Stand up and do 10 jumping jacks.
  9. Repeat steps 1-8 for as many repetitions as you desire. 

Workout 2 – Full Body Plank Workout (you will need a pull up bar for this workout)

  1. Stand below the pull up bar, then drop down into the push up position and perform 10 push ups.
  2. After you’ve completed the tenth push up, bend your elbows, place your forearms on the floor and hold a plank or any of the plank variations listed above for as long as you can.
  3. Stand up, grab the pull up bar and perform 10 pull ups.
  4. Drop down and perform 10 squats.
  5. Repeat steps 1-4 for as many repetitions as you desire.  


While planks alone aren’t enough to give you a toned, tight stomach, when combined with a healthy diet and a solid workout plan, they can work wonders. Not only do they give you the look you’re after but they can also improve your posture and give you the core strength you need to maximize the effectiveness of your workouts. So if you’re not doing them already, review the plank variations and plank workouts in this article, get planking and get yourself some six pack abs this Year.


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