“Want six pack abs?” asks the commercial for the latest exercise fad. But it’s not just about the abs, that stretch from hips to ribs. You can’t get those sexy chizzled abs without working the back muscles—the complementary muscle group.
But how can you work the abs and back without setting aside an hour or so out of the day to hit the gym to use all the fancy back machines? It’s easy.
The plank, most experts agree, is the best option for a core workout.
This exercise can take up as little as five minutes, or less, a day. Try it.
Lay flat on your stomach and place your elbows directly beneath the shoulders. Pop up onto the toes and straighten the legs, locking the knees and squeezing them together.
The key to the plank is tightening up the body. Squeeze the glutes, quads and abs. Imagine someone is about to punch you in the stomach and clench your abs. Press the upperback slightly toward the ceiling and ball hands into fists.
Pull the elbows, without actually moving, back toward your toes, and your toes toward your elbows. Now hold for 10-15 seconds, remember to breathe through the nose, keeping all the muscles in the body clenched. Then relax.
Repeat three more times for a total of four planks with 10-15 seconds of rest between each plank.
This video by Bret Contreras demonstrates an excellent example of an RKC (Russian Kettlebell Club) Plank.
What are you working?
Rather than just hitting the abs as normal crunches do, the plank is working all the muscles in the core. This includes the abs, back, glutes, pecs, and shoulders.
The best thing is that it takes little time to do. It also never gets easy or boring as there are several modifications that don’t require any weights, bands, or machines. Try it up on the hands, or lift one leg off the floor. Lengthen the time you hold the plank. The possibilities are endless.
Remember: The key is to tighten up all the muscles running from the shoulders down to the glutes. Do this exercise four times in the morning and four times at night, a few times a week and your core will get stronger. Have some fun with it. You know you want to make those pirate sounds when you’re struggling to hold that plank.