PLANKS: FLAT ABS FOR GOOD

Experts once recommended a seemingly endless array of crunches to help sculpt six-pack abs.

Today, we know that crunches and situps aren’t likely to get you the ab-fab results you really want.

Planks reign supreme as the ultimate tummy toner.

But what makes the ground-grazing move so effective at sculpting your abs?

The secret is in the mechanics.

The plank is a static, isometric exercise that requires the abdominals to stop movement while also supporting the spine. It’s a far more functional exercise than crunches, plus planks are generally safer for the lower back. But most important, they work. A study from 2011 showed that elbow planks were more than twice as effective at core and spine activation than traditional crunches.

So, how can you keep raising the challenge to get flat abs for good?

The plank is a good foundational movement, but you need to progress it if you want a reactive core that helps you move in ways that more closely relate to what happens in real life.

For example, when you pick up your kids, your abs to have react to this unpredictable movement. To keep the demands on your core constantly changing, try these two killer plank variations that will get you a strong core, fast.

SUPER PLANK (elbow to full)

BEGIN in elbow plank position with your elbows under your shoulders and palms facing each other, feet hip width.

PRESSING through your toes and keeping tension in your trunk and hips, straighten right arm and plank right hand in top of push-up position.

STRAIGHTEN your left arm, pressing up into push-up position

HOLD the plank at the top for one count, then slowly reverse the movement, lowering left forearm and then right, without rotating the hips.

SWITCH the order to lift back up, planting left hand first, then right, Then lower your right elbow first, continue alternating for 30 seconds.

HIP DIPS (side to side)

BEGIN in elbow plank position with your elbows under your shoulders and palms facing each other, feet hip width.

LOWER right hip towards floor, return to starting position, then lower left hip towards floor.

SWITCH hips from side to side, keeping abs tight, continue alternating for 30 seconds.

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