If you're looking for ways to improve your abs, you are probably trying to figure out how to fit more crunches into your daily workout. But, according to fitness experts at bodybuilding.com, this may not be the best idea. This is not to say that crunches are wrong, it's just that there may be a more effective way to improve your ab workout. And that would include planks. If you think they are boring and aren't doing much for your body, chances are you are doing them wrong. Read below to find out the proper form for your plank workout and for new ways to make them fun and effective.
Before you decide to incorporate planks into your session, you must learn how to do them right. If you don't have the right form, you will likely find yourself with low back problems that are not helping your ab workout at all. Start off by getting into a plank position – propped on your forearms with your elbows in line with your shoulders and your toes planted firmly on the floor. It's important that your low back is not sinking or arched. Also, be careful not to shrug your shoulders toward your ears. Keep your head neutral – do not let your neck look up or down too low. Try staring at your fists in front of you for a good head position. Your body should form a straight line from your head to your ankles.
2. Reduced Ground Contact
If you can hold a plank for 45 to 60 seconds without too much problem you are ready to move on to more difficult planks. When you are in plank position, lift up an arm or foot. This will make your body work harder. Start off by holding a good plank with only one foot on the ground and then progress to lifting an arm up. You can also try pushing your arms out in front of you slightly during the hold. This change in leverage will make the movement much more difficult.
3. RKC Plank
This is known as the Russian Kettle bell Challenge plank and includes some differences from the original plank – arms are placed slightly farther out in front, elbows are closer together, quads are flexed and your glutes are clenched as hard as they can be. In this plank, you should be flexing everything as hard as you can, which will work your muscles harder. This plank has four times the lower ab, three times the external oblique and two times the internal oblique activation.
4. Planks with Accessories
When you add an unstable surface to your planks, it will be much more challenging. Get into plank position with a stability ball and place your arms on it. If it doesn't seem difficult enough, try removing one foot from the floor.
5. Body Saw
Set up in a plank position but place your feet on a stability ball or in a suspension trainer. If you are working out at home and don't have these items you can just use a couple paper plates. Once you're in position, slowly move your body forward and backward using your forearms. The movement will become more difficult the farther your elbows are from the centre of your body.
This plank is similar to the body saw expect that your arms are on the ball. Place your forearms on top of the ball and begin slowly rolling the ball out in front of you, reversing the movement when it becomes too difficult to hold.