Crunches are definitely a great way to work out the abdominal muscle and obliques. Yet, there is always room for variety in any routine.
Planks are another effective way to exercise your core. A plank is a traditional move in Pilates and Yoga. It works all core muscles including the back, hips, chest and even wrists. Toning these core muscles is essential for a strong, balanced and stabilized body.
Lower back pain is often caused by a weak core. Having a strong core helps prevent injury by strengthening the back muscles. Planks are also stress-free on the neck.
The following routine is a variety of plank exercises beginning with the most basic and adding a few challenges. Start out holding each pose for between 8-12 seconds.
- Begin in a push-up position.
- Next, balance on your toes and forearms (or on your palms for more of a challenge).
- Pull your belly button into your spine, back straight.
- Be sure that your lower back does not sag.
*For a modified plank, keep your back straight and lower your knees to the floor.
Plank with knee touch (Can be done on forearms or palms)
- Keeping your back straight, and belly button pulled in towards your spine, slowly tap your right knee down to the floor.
- Alternate knees.
- This is a good pose for balance and stabilization.
*For more of a challenge bring you knee to your chest once you have tapped the floor.
- Keeping your back straight, and belly button pulled in towards your spine, alternatively and slowly raise each leg towards the ceiling.
- Do not let your back sag, or you could potentially cause injury to your lower back.
- Alternatively extend one leg and the opposite arm for better balance and a stronger core.
Walking Plank (Must be on forearms) *More challenging*
- Begin in elbow plank.
- Ground your elbows directly under your shoulders.
- Walk 1 inch forward with your right arm.
- Have you left arm move 1 inch forward to meet the right.
- Feet do not move.
- Bring your forearms back to starting position one at a time beginning with your right.
- Next, move 1 inch to the right with your right forearm.
- Have your left arm follow, moving 1 inch to the right to meet the right arm.
- Move back to your starting point moving your left arm first, then the right.
- Then move your left forearm 1 inch to the left.
- Have your right forearm move 1 inch to the left, meeting your left arm.
- Go back to your starting position moving the right arm first.
*To add more challenge, add another step (extra inch) next time you go around.
Side Plank (Palm or forearm)
- Lie on your right side.
- Have your right palm, or right elbow placed on the ground.
- Have your left arm relaxed on your side.
- Tighten your abdominals and glutes, be sure to keep your body in a straight line.
- Repeat on your left side.
*For more of a challenge, raise your relaxed hand straight up towards the ceiling. Keep your body balanced and in line.