Planks are the ultimate core strengthener and these five dynamic variations work your abs from angle.
If you’re looking for one move that shocks your abs into getting stronger fast, there aren’t many as good as the plank. As an isometric hold – meaning the muscles are under full tension without lengthening or shortening – it works the entire core region, targeting your abs, obliques and deep-lying support muscles, as well as your glutes and lower back.
But static-hold planks for time can be boring. Add in some dynamic movements, though, and you’ll get all the core-building benefits without watching the clock.
Here are five of our favourites…
Single-Leg Knee Drive
- Do 12 reps, then switch legs and repeat.
Adding a dynamic movement to a static hold will force you to keep your core fully engaged (so you don’t fall over) and help fire up more muscle fibres across the entire core region.
What’s more, you’ll also work the glutes and hamstrings and improve lower-body mobility and flexibility.
TIP: Get your abs tight by drawing your belly button in towards your spine – a bit like what you do when you brace your stomach to be punched. This will create tension across your entire core.
Single-Leg Roll Twist
- That’s one rep. Do 12 reps, then switch legs and repeat.
Many men suffer from tight hips, which makes a lot of important lower-body exercises far harder and increases injury risk.
This rolling plank variation will work the core and help ‘open up’ the hips for greater lower-body mobility and improved power transfer between your legs and torso.
TIP: Another great way to get your abs as tight as possible, and keep them engaged, is to exhale as forcefully as possible through your lips so your abs tighten, then not relax from that position.
- That’s one rep. Do 12 reps, then switch arms and repeat.
This variation not only works the entire core, it also contracts and stretches the upper and lower abs during each rep for greater strength gains.
You’ll also strengthen the stabilising muscles of the shoulders because your planted arm must work hard to keep your torso stable.
TIP: Go up on tiptoes to raise your hips as high as you can for the start position. As you lower your chest to the ground, push your hips forwards at the very bottom of the rep.
Side Plank Roll Twist
- That’s one rep. Do 12 reps, then switch arms and repeat
Rolling one arm up to the top, then down and across your body, brings the obliques into play in a big way.
These muscles are involved in all rotational movements, so making them stronger has huge cross-over benefits for many sports.
TIP: To avoid putting excess pressure on your neck, make sure your eyes follow your hand to the top and then back down and around again. This will keep your head moving in a smooth arc for each rep.
Side Plank Heel Tap
- That’s one rep. Do 12 reps, then switch sides and repeat.
This variation works the obliques as well as the deeper core muscles, which are recruited to keep your hips raised so that you can maintain the side plank position.
Adding a movement works them even harder to keep your body from falling forwards or backwards.
TIP: Keep your glutes engaged for the whole set to improve lower-body stability so you can lift and lower your heel without your body rocking. And keep your head looking forwards with your chin up.