Basic Plank

Planks (also called bridges or hovers) are one of the best abdominal exercises you can do.

Start position:
Prepare for a plank by lying facedown and placing your elbows and forearms beneath your chest.

Movement:
To lift into a plank, lift yourself up onto your elbows and toes (or knees if you are a beginner) so that your body forms a bridge position. If you’re new to doing planks, try to hold your position for up to ten seconds, gradually increasing this as your fitness improves. When you’re holding the position, focus on keeping your abs tight and not letting your hips and back ‘sag’-your back should be flat, so that the top of your body forms one long line. These apply to all variations unless otherwise specified.

Easy Plank Variations

There are many easy ways to vary your planks such as:
1. Hands and toes
Tips: Be sure to place your hands directly underneath your shoulders, and keep your shoulder blades together. Try this with straight arms first, and then with a slight bend in your elbows.

2. Plank on elbows with side step
Tips: When you step your leg out, don’t allow your hips to rotate too much. The challenge is to remain in the neutral starting position as you perform the exercise.

3. Double bosu (or pillow) planks
Tips: Make sure you place your elbows wide on the bosu to support your upper body, and both your feet directly in the middle of the bosu at your other end.

Swiss Ball Cross Plank

Start position:
Lean on your elbows on top of a Swiss ball with your legs straight, balancing up on your toes. Make sure you draw your stomach in and keep your body in a straight line.

Movement:
Perform a cross figure, going forward first, rolling the ball with your elbows and bringing it back to the start position. Then go to the left, go back, and go right.

Side Plank

Start position:
Lie on your side with your legs straight. Prop yourself up by placing your elbow directly under you shoulder with your forearm out and forward.

Movement:
Raise your hips and brace your core. Keep your neck neutral and hold this position for a desired amount of time, then lower yourself back down and change sides.

Side Plank Raise

Start position:
Lie on your side and stack your straight legs one on top of the other, so your body is in a straight line. Make sure your shoulders, hips, and feet are all aligned. Brace your core.

Movement:
Prop yourself up on your elbow, making sure it’s positioned directly beneath your shoulder, and lift your hips towards the ceiling until your body forms one long straight line. Raise your free arm straight up into the air to open your chest. Lower gently towards the floor and then lift yourself immediately back up. Perform several repetitions before switching sides.

Reverse Plank

Start position:
Lie on your back and prop yourself up on your elbows, making sure they’re directly beneath your shoulders. Squeeze your glutes and point your toes.

Movement:
Breathe out and slowly lift your hips up towards the ceiling, until your body forms one long line. Continue to point your toes and push down through your feet as you lift your hips up, which will help take any strain off your back.

*Tip* If you find this really challenging to begin with, bend one leg and keep that foot planted on the floor as you lift your hips, making sure you keep your pelvis level and squeeze your glutes as you rise—don’t just push yourself up with your planted foot. Switch sides and repeat the exercise.

Plank Crawl

Start position:
Start in a push up position, with your hands shoulder-width apart underneath your shoulders, and place your toes on a duraDisc balance plate (a wooden disc).). If you use a wooden disc then this exercise needs to be done on carpet. However, you can also do it at home on tiles, wooden floors or lino and simply place your foot on a tea-towel or washer instead.

Movement:
Keeping you body in a straight line, pull yourself along with your arms and hands, dragging your feet behind you. Go for the desired distance and then pull yourself back.

Push up to Side Plank on Toes

Start position:
Start in a normal push up position up on your toes and with your arms shoulder width apart in front of you.

Movement:
Perform a normal push up, and as you extend your arms to come back up, rotate your hip and shoulders to one side so you’re in a side plank. Hold for a few seconds, then rotate back around to perform a push up again.
Tip: You can also do this on your knees to make it a tad easier to begin with!