Although it has been around for a long time, it was probably on a few years ago when the term ‘planking’ was first heard in regular fitness circles. It refers to a specific exercise (or group of exercises) that involve holding the body straight (like a plank of wood) in certain positions for differing periods of time. There are common variations of the exercise such as the reverse plank or side plank. The most common ‘regular’ plank position is holding the body in a horizontal position, supported by the toes to the rear and by the elbows and forearms to the front, facing down. Holding the position gives core strength to the body, with the world record for holding the plank position set at over 3 hours!
But doesn’t the plank get boring? Well, yes it does. So here’s a few variations of the plank to keep you interested and your body toned, but beware; these variations involve the core strengths of the plank whilst applying additional exercises to your body.
1) The side plank lift.
Hold yourself in the side plank position, supported by the side of one of your feet and either your elbow/ forearm or your hand. In this position, keep your core straight whilst raising your other leg slowly. Hold it in the raised position then lower it slowly in a controlled way. Do this for between 10 and 20 repetitions.
2) The front plank lift.
From the standard horizontal plank position you will alternate lifting each leg, whilst keeping it straight, holding it in a raised position, then slowly lowering it, before changing to your other leg. This should be done alternately for a repetition of twenty times if you can.
3) Front plank leg curls.
Similar to the front plank lift above, but this time you will bend your leg as you lift it upwards. Imagine trying to make the top of your leg (thigh) point upwards whilst making your lower leg(calf’s) point horizontally. Again, do this in repetitions you can manage and don’t forget to alternate legs.
4) The reverse plank lift.
For this exercise you will assume the reverse plank position with your front facing upwards, balanced on your heels and on your hands, with your arms straight. Now you can slowly raise your legs in turn, holding them for a pause at the top position and then slowly lowering them down. This is tough on your core especially your abdominal muscles so you may only manage a few repetitions.
5) Walking the plank.
This can be done from both the normal (face down) plank position and the reverse plank position. Quite simply you hold this core plank position but then ‘walk’ your body sideways. You will have to experiment to see which method work for you but you may or may not cross over your hands or your legs, or you may also find it easier to experiment moving your lower half first and the top half. Mixing this exercise up will work on various muscle groups.
So, next time you think holding your regular plank position for long periods of time, think about mixing it up a little!
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