Written with love, by Nikki Lian
Last week we looked at basic planks: the straight-armed plank, the bent-armed plank, the side plank and modified plank. Practicing these exercises every day will make your body stronger and eventually planking won't be so dreadful anymore. Nothing is really that terrible when we feel confident doing it! But now to take it a step further--here are some movements you can add to the plank once you feel comfortable and confident performing one:
Forearm to Push-Up Plank
Starting in a straight-armed plank (push-up) position, one at a time bring your arms down into a bent armed plank position. Then one at a time bring your arms back up to a straight-armed position.
This can also be done starting from a modified plank. Start with a set of ten repetitions and work your way up. Or, like a regular plank, you can time yourself and each set try to beat your time.
I also call these floor jacks. Start in a straight-armed plank position and start moving your feet as if you are doing a jumping jack. The only difference is that your hands are on the floor instead of up in the air. Jump landing your feet far apart, and then jump back in landing your feet together. Start with 10 repetitions and then work on increasing that number for each set.
Alternating Leg Plank Hold
Your starting position can be either a bent-armed or straight-armed plank hold. Once you're in this position, raise your left leg in the air and hold it. After 20 seconds, bring it back down into starting position and then raise your right leg in the air, and hold that for 20 seconds. There really isn't a right or wrong amount of time -- 20 seconds is just a number I start with. I would do 20 seconds with both feet down, then 20 seconds on each leg.
Some people save their plank exercises for when they work on their abs. I like to do mine while doing a circuit or working on the machines to keep my heart rate up. For example, I'll do one set one the lat pull down machine and then a quick set of plank jacks.
Planks are like any other exercise--once you get good at them they won't seem so bad, and you'll have a newfound strength in muscles you don't normally use. And another great about them is that there is no equipment necessary. So wherever you are, plank away!