Elbow Plank

3 Best Exercises to Get Those “Beach Ready” Abs

          We think we need to employ a complicated routine to get those 6 pack abs we all covet.  This couldn't be further from the truth.  We have all the tools we need right here at our disposal.  That tool is ourselves.  Planks use body weight to engage our entire core (abdominals and lower back) and are quite functional if we add movement to the basic plank position.  There are 3 basic plank positions.  

 

1) The Elbow Plank-  Elbows are bent and are directly under the shoulders.  Head and lower back are in a neutral position and feet are shoulder width apart.  This plank engages the Rectus Abdominus (that big abdominal muscle the runs up the center of our torso) the most efficiently .

 

Elbow Plank

Elbow Plank


Variations

  • Add single leg lifts either up and down or out to the side
  • Add knees crossing under the body so that the knee goes to the opposite shoulder
  • Add knees out the side bringing the same knee to the outside of the same shoulder
  • Go from elbow plank to push-up plank and back down maintaining that neutral position at the lower back

 

2) The Push-Up Plank- This plank also engages the rectus abdomens but less so than the elbow plank because in this position our body is able to engage shoulder and back musculature as well.  Like the elbow plank the hands should be directly under the shoulders with the neck and back in a neutral position and the feet shoulder width apart.

 

Push-up Plank

Push-up Plank

Variations

  • Add single leg lifts either up and down or out to the side
  • Add knees out the side bringing the same knee to the outside of the same shoulder
  • Add knees crossing under the body so the knee goes to the opposite shoulder
  • Add arm lift forward or to the side one at a time
  • Add an arm reach under the body to add rotation

 

3)  The Side Plank- This plank is used to engage your oblique abdominal muscles.  You can perform this exercise on your elbow or your hand.  Just like the previous two exercises, the elbow side plank will isolate the obliques more but the extended hand plank will add more upper body to the equation.

Side Plank

Side Plank


Variations

  • Reach the arm down and under the body adding rotation
  • Drop the bottom hip down towards the floor then back up to neutral
  • Lift top leg up and down

 

The Challenge

Try completing 5 rounds of whatever plank variation of your choosing daily for 3 weeks.  Not only will you form a habit you could very well form new abs!  If you are a beginner try performing the first exercise for 30 seconds then rest for a minute. Repeat the same pattern with exercises 2-5.  If you are an intermediate try 45 seconds and if you are advanced try one minute.  Remember that pain should never occur so reevaluate your position if your planks are causing pain.  Lastly, remember that diet is also important.  All the exercise in the world won't help you discover rock hard abs if you are hiding them under a layer of processed, sugary and fatty foods!

 

4 Comments

  1. I need some major modifications in order to do these exercises!!!!!I am doing the exercises minus the planking.

    • If you are unable to get onto the floor to do the planks my suggestion is to put your elbows on a chair to elevate your upper body and hold the position for 30 seconds to a minute and repeat 5 times.

  2. I have seen a lot of people struggling to have the perfect abs. Most of them find it hard to achieve it because they do not have the proper guide. I think with the information you provided it will help them a lot.

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