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Plank Variations for a Strong Core

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Try mixing these core exercises into your yoga routine for toned abs.

Planks are a great way to build core strength using only your body weight. Incorporating planks into your daily routine will help you reach your fitness objectives quickly, but doing the same thing every day can get boring after a while. Not to mention, your body needs to be challenged and doing the same routine may cause you to plateau.

So, to help keep planks interesting, try the following variations on the standard plank pose. You can use these moves to keep your body engaged and challenged, while testing your strength and balance. 

By Emma Haak

 

Roving Stability Ball Plank


Grab a small stability ball. Get into your normal plank position (on your hands, not your forearms), placing your right foot on top of the stability ball. Hold for a few seconds, then bring the ball to your left foot, placing your foot on the ball and holding for a few seconds. Roll the ball up to your left hand and place your left hand on top of it. Hold for a few seconds, then roll the ball toward your right hand and place your hand on top of it. Focus on keeping your shoulders above your hands. It’s virtually impossible for your hips to be out of position when your shoulders and hands are properly aligned.

 

Bird Dog


Get into a standard plank position. Slowly take one hand off the ground and lift your arm up in front of you until it’s parallel with the floor. At the same time, lift the opposite foot off the floor, lifting your leg back behind you until it’s also parallel with the floor. You can make this easier by doing it on your knees. Start in a tabletop position instead of a plank and instead of lifting one foot, lift your opposite knee, straightening your leg as you bring it back behind you until it’s parallel with the floor.

 

Knee to Same-Side Elbow Plank


Start in a standard plank position. Keeping your torso steady, lift up your right foot, bend your knee and, squeezing your oblique’s, bring your knee to the outside of your right elbow, then bring your right foot back to starting position. Repeat with your left foot to left elbow. Try not to lean to the opposite side as you bring your knee toward your elbow. You should feel equal weight distributed in both of your hands.

 

Forearm Plank with Hip Dips


Start in a plank position on your forearms. Keeping your shoulders above your elbows, twist your torso to bring your right hip toward the ground, hold for a second, then return to start. Repeat with your left hip, alternating between right and left for the duration of the hold. If you feel any discomfort or stress in your lower back, stop the exercise. You should feel it only in your core and, specifically, your oblique’s.

 

Side Star Plank


Get into side plank position on your hand instead of your forearm, feet stacked. Lift your top arm directly above your head, so your arms form a straight line up from the floor. Squeezing your core to maintain your balance, lift your top leg off your bottom leg and continue to lift until your feet are a few feet apart. You should feel like you’re making a star shape. Hold there. Make this easier by doing it on your forearm instead of your hand. If you need another step down, hold the plank on your knee instead of your foot.

 

Plank with Pike Up


Find a smooth floor surface and grab a towel or floor sliders. Get into a plank position on your hands, placing your feet on the towel or sliders. Squeezing your abs, lift your lips toward the ceiling and pull your feet toward your hands, keeping your legs straight so you form an upside-down V. Bring your feet in as close as you comfortably can, hold for a second, then slowly slide your feet back out to starting position. If this feels too hard, you can do a pike without moving your feet. Just lift your hips toward the ceiling while keeping your feet stationary, so you form a wider upside-down V, then return to start. You can also do it on your forearms if necessary.

 

Plank Drag


Start in a plank position with hands on the ground and feet on a towel or sliders, on a smooth floor surface. Slowly walk your arms forward, keeping your feet on the towel or sliders, so you’re dragging your lower body with you. When you’ve gone a few feet, walk your hands backward, pushing your feet backward as well. Keep a straight line between your head and your feet, making sure not to let your hips drop as your drag your body forward.

Read the full article here.

All images courtesy of Oprah.com.

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