Master the Plank

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There is no exercise that works your abs more effectively and efficiently than the plank. All of your abdominal muscles (transverse, obliques and upper) have to work together to stabilize and support your entire body weight.

It also engages your glutes, shoulders, lats, arms and legs. Almost every muscle in your body is being toned and tightened when you perform this power move.

Get ready to flatten and tone your midsection in as little as 60 seconds with all the variations of this super pose.

Master the Plank

Before you try some of the more creative poses it's essential the you master the basic pose.
  1. Draw your navel towards your spine. Think about really pulling your belly up, no sagging!
  2. Don't overarch your back. You want your whole body from the top of your head to your ankles to be in a straight line.
  3. Engage your glutes. This will help you keep that straight line.
  4. Keep those angles at a 90 degree angle. This helps your entire body stack correctly.
  5. Don't collapse into your shoulders or let them rise towards your ears. Pulling your abs tighter will help you direct the hold to your core instead of your neck and upper shoulders.
  6. Keep your gaze about 6 inches in front of your face. This will keep your neck from straining.
Work up to a 60 second hold, focus on perfect form. If you need to rest during your plank drop your knees down to the ground and then rise back up again into the pose.

Plank Variations

Once you've mastered the basic plank, check out these fun and challenging takes on the basic movement:

Oblique Plank: Moving your legs while holding the plank increases the work your lower abs and obliques have to do, plus it gets your heart rate up burning a ton of calories.

Side Plank: Shifting the plank from one arm to two forces your obliques and lats to engage- say goodbye to love handles.

Mountain Climbers: Want to tone and tighten your abs while ramping up your heart rate? Try this fast paced ab move as a cardio interval between strength moves.

Exercise Ball Planks: Doing this balancing exercise on an unstable surface dramatically increases the challenge to your core by forcing it to tighten and lift to stabilize your body.

Video: Master the Basic Plank