A strong core is vital if you are looking to strengthen your body or increase your muscle. The stronger your muscles the more effective your workouts should be. While push-ups and crunches can help to build a strong core and to fire up all the muscles in the abdomen at the same time one should opt for plank exercise. However, apart from strengthening the core, plank also helps to slim down the waistline and improve overall posture. By introducing a few variations in your daily workout routine, you can target the muscle of the back, arms and glutes as well.
Also known as the forearm plank, this exercise can be performed for 60 seconds at the least or as long as you can hold the position. Lie on the mat facing downwards. Keep the legs extended out, bend your elbows under the shoulders and clasp your hands. Keep feet hip-width apart and also maintain elbows shoulder-width apart. Compress the abs and rise up using toes while keeping forearms on the ground. Your body must form a straight line from head to heels and be careful not to dip the hips when balancing your weight on toes.
Straight arm plank
The straight arm plank is a lot like the top position when doing push-ups. Begin by kneeling on all fours, (sic) with bent knees and hands, shoulder width apart.
Rise up and support your weight on toes, compress the abs, keep your legs straight so that the body remain straight from the head to the heels.
Assume normal plank position on a mat, press the right hand down and twist the body so that the weight shifts to the outer part of your right foot. Place left foot directly on top of the right foot. Extend your left arm upwards with fingers pointed. Clench the muscles in the lower abdomen and engage the core. Hold the position for 60 seconds and return to starting plank position. Repeat by turning on your left side. A single rep involves alternating on both the right and left sides. Perform 3 reps.
Plank jacks are the version of jumping jacks which help to strengthen the glutes and firm up leg muscles. However, assume straight arm plank position. Once the body is in a straight line from head to toes, begin “jumping” my moving your legs closer and away from each other alternatively. Make sure that you also keep your arms straight and land on your toes. Thus, try to minimise the sway in your hips by engaging the core and keeping the back in a straight line.
This plank is really helpful for the back and shoulders. Therefore, get into plank position first. Rest your forearms, palm down, flat on the mat. Raise your hips to make your body form an inverted V shape. Bring hips back in normal plank position. Repeat. Try to do 3 sets of 15 reps.
This exercise helps to acquire both the rectus abdominous (six-pack) and transverse abdominous (waist-cinching corset muscles). Lie down and keep your face downwards with legs extended, elbows bent, feet hip-width apart, elbows shoulder-width apart. Contract abs, then tuck toes to lift the body, elbows directly under shoulders. Hold for 4 breaths. Bend knees (do not touch the ground), tilt pelvis up; hold for 4 breaths. Keeping abs tight, straighten legs, hold for 4 breaths. Repeat it thrice.
Standing with feet shoulder-width apart, bend forward at the waist and place your hands on the floor; crawl forward to plank position with shoulders directly over wrists. Bend elbows to lower your body toward the floor, then push back up. Next, bend your left knee, bring it up and in toward your chest, then rotate your waist as you raise your bent left leg out until it’s parallel to the floor. Return to plank and repeat on the opposite side. Return to the standing position again.