All right, we get it…planks are boring. Staring at the floor with the sweat dripping down your nose waiting for your timer to run down is as almost as exciting as visiting the in-laws.
If you’ve been living under a rock as of late, planks are isometric exercises used to strengthen and build endurance in the abdominals. They are typically performed either on your elbows and toes, on your side or even face up. They are normally held for time e.g. 30 to 60-seconds or performed in shorter timed-intervals with only a few seconds break e.g. 10-second holds with 2-second rest periods.
Planks are the new sit-ups for modern-day core training. People like numbers so instead of doing 300-500 sit-ups every night, they’ll form a statue-like creature on the floor next to their bed and be motionless for as long as possible. But, as with anything, we must apply the Principle of Progressive Overload to ensure continued progress. No one in their right mind wants to hold their planks longer and longer—thankfully, progressive overload can be applied by other means.
If you can nail a basic front plank, remove the boredom with these variations. Not only are they challenging, they will also add some spice to your ab routines.
Chose a few of each variation below and add 3-5 sets to your workouts. Perform each set for 60-seconds.
1) Reduce stability.
Minimizing your base of support will increase the difficulty and challenge your ability to maintain your neutral position.
Try the Front Plank with Alternate Arm & Leg Lift.
Go into a traditional front plank on your elbows and toes. Stay long and tight and squeeze your glutes. Lift one arm and the opposite leg without compensating your flat back position. Hold for 5 seconds and alternate sides.
2) Add a compound movement.
Adding a compound movement to an isometric plank not only makes the plank more difficult - you also get to develop other muscles at the same time.
Try the Push-up Plank with Row.
Go into a pushup plank with your hands on two dumbbells. Brace your abs and form a straight line from your head to your heels. Row one dumbbell while keeping a flat back. The hips like to rise, so drive your hips down by squeezing your glutes.