When you think of muscles and fitness, what’s the first thought that comes to mind? Abs, losing weight? Have you ever thought about your core muscles and how important they are when it comes to movement? Our core muscles are a series of muscles in our midsection, and strengthening them will ensure that our other muscles work well. In short, a strong core will enable better movement, better fitness results and you’ll be surprised at what your body is capable of doing in terms of movements.
#1: The HIGH Plank
The high plank is the very first plank you’ll ever start with. To begin, get onto all your fours in tabletop position. Your wrists have to be directly under your shoulders and your knees, slightly apart. This is your neutral stance. Once your hands and feet are properly aligned, lift your knees off the ground, supporting your weight on your hands and your toes. Ensure that you spread your fingers apart, so that the body weight is spread across; if not, your wrists may bear the brunt of the pressure. The position sounds daunting but engage your core muscles and you will be able to hold this position for a minimum of 30 secs.
#2: The SIDE Plank
The side plank is another variation I absolutely love, since it works our often ignored lateral muscles. Lie on one side and make sure that your elbow is directly underneath your shoulder. Your arm is flat on your mat, with your fingers spread out. Then, stack one leg over the other and raise your hips. Try and put the free hand on your hand on your hip and if you’re very comfortable and want to challenge yourself even more, raise it skywards.
#3: Plank – Knee To Elbow Variation
This variation works on arm strength, wrist strength and core strength as well. Get into a high plank position, making sure that your wrists are in line with your shoulders. Hold this position for 30 secs and the lift your leg and push your knee towards the opposite elbow. Once your knee touches the opposite elbow, push your knee back to starting position. Repeat this on the other side as well. Do eight reps of this on either side to ensure you get the most out of this exercise.
#4: The Mountain Climber
The mountain climber is a favorite in the world of fitness because it works your whole body. Get into high plank position and check your alignment. Here, you can place your hands slightly wider than your shoulders, which will give your body more leverage and balance. Then, tighten your abs and making sure your hips are in line (no lifting), draw one knee toward your chest. Go back to starting position and do the same with the other leg. This is one of the more ‘active’ plank variations and you’ll be breaking a sweat by the end of your reps. The number of reps depend on your exercise program and how much you can do, but try and clock in 12 reps to begin with and then increase those reps.
#5: One Legged Plank
The one legged plank will test your strength and endurance but it will strengthen that core like no one’s business and ensure you have popping abs (eventually). Get ready to work your arms, legs, core, abs and your metabolism will get a serious boost, too. Get into a forearm plank position and contract your abs engaging your core. Then, lift your right leg up and hold for 30 secs. Exhale and lower the leg and return to your original position. Repeat the same on the other leg.
#6: Straight Arm Planks With Shoulder Taps
Another great plank variation that strengthens your core, wrists, arms and shoulders, and promotes great balance as well. Get into in a high plank position, with wrists directly under your shoulders. Make sure your feet are close and your weight should be on your toes. Once you’re well aligned in this position, lift your right hand and tap your left shoulder. Come back to the original position and do the same on the opposite side. When tapping your shoulders, your upper body and hips could move but as far as possible, ensure that they’re still.