Shore up your core
The plank is one of the best exercises you can do for your core because it builds isometric strength to help sculpt your waistline and improve your posture. And depending on the type of plank you try, you can also engage your back, arms, shoulders, glutes, and hamstrings. Win!
Whether you can hold a plank for 20 seconds or two minutes, you’ll love these fresh variations on the standard move. Bonus: 16 of them don’t require a single piece of equipment.
This is what most people consider to be a standard plank. Lie facedown with legs extended and elbows bent and directly under shoulders; clasp your hands. Feet should be hip-width apart, and elbows should be shoulder-width apart. Contract your abs, then tuck your toes to lift your body (forearms remain on the ground); you should be in a straight line from head to heels. Hold for 60 seconds or as long as you can.
Health contributing yoga and wellness editor Kristin McGee demonstrates this plank done at the top of push-up position. Kneel on all fours with hands directly under shoulders. Come onto toes, contract abs, and straighten legs; keep body in line from head to heels.
Plank with arm/leg lift
This move from Health contributing fitness editor Tracy Anderson targets your upper back, chest, sides, core, and glutes.
Watch the video: Plank With Arm/Leg Lift
From plank position, press your right hand into a mat and turn your body so your weight is on the outer edge of your right foot; stack your left foot on top. Imagine you have a big beach ball under your right side; press your torso up and away from the ball, extending your left arm with fingers pointed toward the sky. Tighten your lower-ab muscles and brace your entire core. Hold for 60 seconds, then return to plank position and repeat on the left side; that’s 1 rep. Do 3 reps.
Adding this type of jumping jack to the standard plank engages your abs even more.
Watch the video: Plank Jacks
Side plank crunch
Try this move from Jillian Michaels and you’ll never callcrunches boring again. Lie on left side with left hand on floor beneath left shoulder, right fingers behind head; let inside of right foot rest on floor in front of left foot.
Tighten abs; push into left hand to lift body so it forms a diagonal line from head to heels. Crunch forward and down, bringing right elbow to left elbow; return to starting position. Do 10 reps; switch sides and repeat.
This yoga hybrid works your back, abs, and shoulders.Compound exercises that target multiple muscle groups give you a really big bang for your strength-training buck!
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Watch the video: Dolphin Plank
Add a resistance band to work your core, shoulders, AND hamstrings. Place band around wrists and ankles; form a straight-arm plank. Move left hand and right foot out 6 inches. Return to start; repeat on opposite sides. That's 1 rep. Do 10.
This exercise works both the rectus abdominus (six-pack) and transverse abdominus (waist-cinching corset muscles).
Lie facedown with legs extended, elbows bent, feet hip-width apart, elbows shoulder-width apart. Contract abs, then tuck toes to lift body, elbows directly under shoulders. Hold for 4 breaths. Bend knees (do not touch ground), tilt pelvis up; hold for 4 breaths. Keeping abs tight, straighten legs, hold for 4 breaths. Repeat 3 times.