7 Plank Upgrades That Will Completely Reshape Your Body
The plank pose is one of the greatest core exercises you can do, but kicking it up a notch will deliver killer head-to-toe body-shaping benefits.
Plank with Toe Taps
If you want to help tone your glutes and inner thighs, try incorporating some toe taps. Start in a basic plank pose, and every two seconds, alternate moving each leg one to two feet to the side. Tap, and return to the starting position. This will also engage your shoulder and lower back muscles. Check out these ways to get better abs with zero crunches.
Get in some more side-ab strengthening with this modification: Start in the plank pose, and every two seconds, alternate throwing a punch forward (in front of your head) without letting your hips rotate. "Not only does this move reshape your deltoids due to the action of throwing a punch, but it also limits the tendency to rotate your hips, which helps reshape your oblique muscles," says Chasen Hasan, Fitness Instructor at the Disney Aulani Resort in Oahu, Hawaii. These killer core moves will flatten your belly.
Plank with Hip Rotations
This plank exercise, which involves alternating touching your hip bones to the ground, emphasizes rotational stability and helps develop your external obliques, in addition to engaging your shoulders and lower back. Start in the plank pose, and then push your hips 1 to 2 inches higher, advises Hasan. "Every two seconds, rotate your hips to the ground, alternating the right and left sides." Pssst: Here's how you can lose belly fat without exercising at all.
Low Plank to High Plank
Looking for more of a chest workout? Try alternating from low to high. Start in a low plank pose (also called an "elbow plank"), with forearms on the floor; in a controlled motion, push up with one arm at a time into a high plank (also called a "top-of-pushup position"). Check that your shoulders are stacked over your elbows and that your body is in one straight line. Then proceed back down, lowering one forearm to the floor at a time. Repeat for 20 to 30 seconds, and then switch up the order—if you started by extending your right arm first, do a round starting with your left arm. (Check out these other 4 plank exercises that will transform your abs.) "This dynamic move helps strengthen your core by focusing on resisting the tendency to rotate, and also helps develop upper body strength," says Hasan. When you're done with your abs, try these 10 calorie-torching squat upgrades.
"The high plank is a step up from the normal plank," says Hasan. "By making it harder to keep your hips up, it places a greater emphasis on core stabilization." (Find out how long you need to hold a plank to flatten your belly.) Start by lying face-down on the floor. From this position, extend your arms into push-up position and press down on the floor to lift your body up, holding at the top, with arms fully extended and core engaged. "The key here is to make sure your hands are directly underneath your shoulder and your hips are not sagging or pushing up into a tent," he says. Want to add some exercise equipment? Try this stability ball abs workout.
High Plank with Shoulder Taps
This variation helps reshape your abs and obliques and engages your triceps, chest, shoulders, and lower back. Start prone on the ground. From this position, extend your arms into push-up position, and press down on the floor to raise your body into a high plank. While in a high plank, alternate bringing your hands across your chest to tap the opposite shoulder. "Make sure your movements are controlled and that your core remains stable," says Hasan. Find out what science says is the best exercise for a flat belly.
High Plank with Knee Taps
This dynamic version of a plank sculpts your upper body while forcing your core to stay active through the entire movement, according to Hasan. Begin by starting in a high plank position with arms fully extended to the floor. Shift your weight to the balls of your feet so that your hips move up towards the sky (and a little bit back, toward your feet). Next, take your left hand and touch your right knee, making sure to keep your form. Repeat the process on the opposite side. Don't miss this one exercise that gives you flat abs in 10 minutes.