Traditional Plank Position
Before you head right into doing your plank exercises, let’s make sure you’ve got the ground rules down. Performing planks in the proper position is the only way you’ll flatten your tummy. So let’s see what it takes to do a proper plank.
An ordinary plank starts off in the pushup position. Bend your elbows and lay your forearms flat on the floor, bringing your hands to a point in front of you. Keep your back as straight as possible. Your heels should point to the ceiling as your toes keep you balanced on the ground.
Draw your abdominal muscles in toward your spine as you hold the position. Planks last for 20-90 seconds, depending on your ability to perform the plank.
Modified Plank Position
If you’re not yet comfortable with on your elbows, you can make the plank easier. Prop yourself up on your hands with your arms straight. Keep your back straight, too, but this time it will be angled toward the floor.
Hold this position for several seconds. Work into harder planks once this one becomes easy for you.
You can work your obliques at the same time as your abs with certain plank exercises, like the plank obliques.
Position yourself in the traditional plank position with your elbows on the floor. Instead of remaining still the entire time, kick your knee up to your elbow on the same side. This will crunch your obliques (the sides of your abs) which tones and firms them while you work your core.
Exercise Ball Planks
You can perform traditional plank and modified plank exercises on an exercise ball rather than on the floor. This brings some additional stability issues to overcome into the equation, making the entire exercise more strenuous and therefore more beneficial.
Prop your arms or hands on the exercise ball as you would on the floor. You’ll have to squeeze the ball between your limbs to keep it from rolling away. Maintain a straight back as you angle from the ball to the floor. Hold for as many seconds as possible before letting go.
You can also substitute a chair for an exercise ball. It won’t add the extra stability challenge, but if you don’t own a ball and don’t want to invest in one, you’ll get a similar experience from using a chair instead.
You can work your obliques again with side plank exercises. Lay on your side and prop yourself up on one hand or one bent elbow. Face your entire body outward. Point your free arm toward the ceiling so you make a big sideways “T” shape with your body. You might not be able to hold this pose as long as previous poses, but you can work up to a minute or 90 seconds eventually.
Remember to switch arms, or you won’t work both sides of your obliques equally.