While crunches are one of the most common core exercises, they may not be the most effective.
So, what should you do instead? Try planks! Even throughout the first trimester of my pregnancy, I (Kalie) loved incorporating plank variations into my daily routine.
Why planks rock…
One exercise, multiple benefits. Planks work WONDERS on your core, not to mention improving your balance, posture and flexibility. They’re one of those all-around exercises that build muscle and strengthen your abs, back, chest, shoulders and neck.
They can be done virtually anywhere. Heck, you don’t even need a yoga mat!
You’ll never get bored. There are soooo many variations, which means you’ll never tire of these body-toning beasts.
How to effectively do a plank.
Proper planks can decrease your risk of back injuries that are correlated with many other core exercises.
- Get into push-up position. If your wrists bother you, rest on your forearms. (The wider your feet are spread apart, the more stability you’ll have.)
- Your head and neck should be in a neutral position.
- Contract your core and last butt not least (pun intended), clench your glutes.
- Keep your head, shoulders, back and legs in a straight line. (Your belly shouldn’t dip toward the floor and your buttocks should not be lifted toward the ceiling. Basically, your back should be so flat that you could balance a glass of water on it.)
- Hold that position as long as you can.
- Remember to breathe and squeeze! Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily while engaging your glutes and lower abs.
- When your form begins to suffer and your back begins to slump, it’s time to stop. Quality trumps quantity. Your endurance will increase over time.
*They’re easy to modify. Rest on your forearms or put your knees on the ground, this will put less stress on your lower back.
Here are a few of our favorite plank variations for you to try:
Try incorporating different variations into your daily routine (we love to do them as soon as we wake up).
You'll effectively build strength and stamina in your midsection and create those killer abs you've been longing for. Start out small, with 10-20 seconds of a traditional plank and challenge yourself to add on a little each day. You can achieve significant results in a relatively short time span! For more exercises and plank variations, check out our exercise library.
Pam & Kalie
P.S. We’d love to hear what some of your favorite planks are. Comment below!