When it comes to core workouts, basic crunches and sit-ups are outdated. The plank, however, is a versatile exercise with several variations and benefits.
Jodi Geigle, the director of coaching for Kumu—a wellness app that brings affordable access to a personal wellness coach—uses variations of the plank that add intensity and incorporate additional muscle groups.
"The plank has really started replacing the standard crunch as the go-to core strengthener," Geigle says. "Not only does it work the entire abdominal area, it also helps build overall strength by incorporating different muscle groups that enhance overall body toning."
Geigle recommends five plank variations—along with a refresher on its original form—that can strengthen your core and legs and improve your balance.
Get into a push-up position and place your palms flat on the ground with your arms fully extended. Keep your back flat and spine neutral as you engage your core muscles. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Why it works: "The plank is a good beginning foundation pose that focuses on strength, balance and endurance," Geigle says.
From the regular plank position, bend your arms and rest your forearms on the ground. Keep your back flat and your core engaged. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Why it works: "This version of the plank utilizes your triceps, but requires even more core strength to stabilize your body," Geigle says.