Want to know the secret to sculpting flat-as-a-washboard abs? Say “hello” to the plank. Simple but oh-so-effective, the plank is one of the best stomach-flattening moves out there: Not only does it engage the entire abdominal wall, it also activates muscles in the back, shoulders, quads and triceps for total-body shrinkage.
We spoke to Kim Hughes, a trainer at the ultra-trendy Barry’s Bootcamp in Nashville, Tenn, who demos how to fine-tune your plank into perfection. Incorporate these moves into your weekly exercise routine, and you’ll burn, tremble and shake your way to a sleeker physique in no time.
1. Basic Plank
Assume a push-up position, with hands firmly planted on the ground, wrists directly under shoulders. Keep your abs pulled in tight and your booty high in the air, being careful not to arch the back. Hold the position for 45 seconds, focusing on engaging the core muscles and maintaing a long, lean body.
2. Basic Forearm Plank
With your elbows aligned with your shoulders, drop down onto your forearms and toes, keeping your stomach sucked in tight and your back flat. Hold the position, pressing forearms firmly onto the floor, for a total of 45 seconds.
3. Intermediate Forearm Plank
To ramp up the intensity of your forearm plank, walk your forearms out away from your body. Continue to keep your core engaged and your back in a straight line. Hold for 45 seconds.
4. Advanced Plank Walk-Up
This advanced variation will make you really feel the burn. Starting in forearm plank, slowly raise yourself up onto both hands, one arm at a time, until you are in a full plank position. Hold, then lower yourself back down to forearm plank. Continue to perform the movement for 45 seconds.