The Best Core Workouts Are These 9 Plank Variations
While getting your abs to show does require a combination of diet and exercise (and good genes don’t hurt), you don’t need any fancy equipment or crazy core workouts to get started. Try mastering one simple move — the plank — and the eight variations below, all of which you can do at home.
Why the plank? An isometric strength move that requires only your bodyweight and a little willpower, the plank can build strength in the abs, obliques, and back.
We know what you’re thinking: what about crunches? Researchers from the University of Waterloo in Ontario investigated how isometric core exercises (like planks) measure up to dynamic exercises (like crunches and sit-ups). They found that isometric exercises are superior at stabilizing the spine.
Ab Workouts to Do at Home: These 9 Plank Variations
1. The Basic Plank
How do you know if you have perfect plank form? Make sure you follow these cues.
- Create a solid base. Assume a push-up position with your feet together and your weight on your hands. Your elbows and hands should be directly beneath your shoulders.
- Don’t shrug your shoulders. Pull your shoulders away from your ears (toward your feet), and draw your shoulder blades together.
- Maintain a straight body line. Squeeze your glutes and brace your core to keep your hips from sagging. Your body should form a straight line from your head to your heels. Your main focus: Use your core to stabilize your body.
2. Single-Arm Plank
Lift your right arm and extend it straight out in front of you. Hold for five seconds, and then switch arms. Continue alternating.
3. Single-Leg Plank
Lift your right foot off the ground. Hold for five seconds, and then switch legs. Continue alternating.
4. Single-Arm, Single-Leg Plank
Position your feet slightly wider than hip width. Lift your right foot off the ground and extend your left arm straight out in front of you so that you’re balancing on your left foot and right hand or forearm. Hold for five seconds, and then switch arms and legs.
5. Plank Jack
Jump your feet apart so that they’re just beyond shoulder width. Pause, and then jump them back to the starting position. Continue, keeping the vertical movement of your hips and torso to a minimum.
6. Spiderman Plank
Lift your right foot, swing your right leg out sideways, and try to touch your right knee to your right elbow. Return to the starting position and repeat with your left leg. Continue alternating.
7. Forearm Plank
Instead of a standard plank with your arms straight, bring your elbows to the floor, with your forearms on the floor and your palms facing down.
8. Forearm to Straight-Arm Plank
Start in a forearm plank. Push up into a straight-arm plank one arm at a time, starting with your right. Reverse the movement to return to the starting position. Repeat, this time beginning with your left arm. Continue alternating.
9. Superman Plank
Start in a straight-arm plank and walk your hands out in front of you as far as possible, while still maintaining proper plank form (your body forming a straight line from your head to your heels, squeezing your glutes and bracing your core). Firmly press the palms of your hands so the are flat, and hold this position.