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The standard plank exercise is an exceptional way to build core strength while supporting spinal health. But if you’re looking for a way to jazz up your typical plank day routine, give the following three variations a try. These twists on a classic will target your abs, obliques, and core in new and super challenging ways.

3 Plank Variations That Will Turn Up the Heat On Ab Day

All 3 variations begin in the standard plank position. Form check! The standard plank looks like this:

  • Hands: on the floor directly under the shoulders, middle fingers pointing to 12 o’clock
  • Elbows: locked out with the inside of the elbows shining forward
  • Head: held neutral with your gaze down at the floor and your neck straight
  • Shoulders and hips: level to each other in a straight line
  • Back: tight and firm, no sagging or rounding
  • Legs: straight and firm
  • Feet: close together toes on the floor with your heels reaching back

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1. Side Plank

target-your-core.jpgWalk your feet together until your heels are touching. Lean carefully toward the left and then slowly raise your right arm up toward the ceiling. You should be holding yourself on only your left hand and the side of your left foot. Hold for 30-45 seconds, then switch to the other side. Be sure not to let your hips sink toward the ground!

Need more support? Line your right foot up on the floor in front of your left. Still challenging!


2. Bird Dog Plank

From the plank position, slowly extend your right arm in front of you. At the same time, lift your left foot about 2-3 inches off the floor. Take 1-2 deep breaths in this position, then slowly return to plank and repeat with the opposite arm and leg. Be sure that your hips stay level with each other.


3. Plank Roll Out

Start with your standard plank position, except with your forearms resting on a stability ball. Keeping your core tight, slowly roll the ball out in front of you by pushing your arms forward. Hold for 1-2 breaths, then roll the ball back in.


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