Plank Exercise Variations

Planking is an excellent way to increase core stability and strength. However, a lot of people have problems with planks because they find them tedious. While this is true, there are ways to make the exercises more fun, thereby increasing motivation and endurance.

As mentioned in previous articles you should be aware that doing planks, or indeed any core exercises, will increase strength but will not make you lose fat around your stomach. If you want to decrease your body fat percentage, the only way to do this is to decrease your calorie intake and increase the amount of cardio you do.

In the standard side plank, you balance on your forearms and feet, raise your hips and keep this position for as long as you can. One way to make this more enjoyable is to hold a weighted ball in your free hand, bring it between your body and the floor, and throw it to a partner. Your partner then throws the ball back to you, and you continue the motion back to the starting position when you catch the ball. If you don’t have a partner you can try throwing the ball in the air and catching it, though this is considerably more difficult.

If throwing a ball is impractical for you, then you can perform the same motion as above, just without a ball. This will turn the plank into a dynamic exercise, and work all of your core muscles.

You can also combine push ups with planks, to reach your arm and chest muscles, in addition to your core. Begin with a regular push up, but on your way up, lift one hand off the ground and twist your body into a plank position, ending with your free hand pointing straight upwards. Repeat this motion whilst alternating which hand you raise.

If the push up plank is too easy for you, you can increase the difficulty by doing the pushups whilst gripping dumbbells and raising them in the air one at a time.

If you want to make the regular front plank more enjoyable, instead of remaining prostrate, you can stretch out your right leg and left arm, followed by your left leg and right arm, each time holding the position for a few seconds.

You can also combine planking with cardio by alternating the above exercises with mountain climber leg workouts, jumping jack and squats.

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