What Are Plank Exercises?
We all know planks are a great core exercise that can help deliver more muscle tone and strength in abdominals. But holding a plank/hover position – the classic elbows under shoulders, stomach off the floor but facing down and on toes or knees – can get pretty boring.
But there are many variations of planks and hovers that can make this classic core exercise more interesting as well as recruit more muscles in the process. Keep in mind that "hover indicates your elbows are on the floor underneath your shoulders. A plank signals that your hands are on the floor underneath your shoulders.
Here are five plank/hover variations:
Spider Plank- Inspired by the walking hover where you line up with elbows under shoulders, flat back and walk up from elbows to hands one at a time and then back down one hand at a time, a spider plank is similar but operates more horizontally. Instead of walking up, up, down, down with your hands and forearms, in a spider plank, you line your hands down under your shoulders with your belly off the ground but hips and shoulders square to the floor. Making sure your back is long and straight, walk your hands one at a time away from your body – forward – and then back. Note: This exercise can be modified by dropping your knees to the ground underneath hips for more support.
Rolling Hover- From either a hands on the floor or elbows on the floor position, rotate one arm up toward the ceiling keeping one elbow (or hand if you are in a plank) on the floor until your hips are parallel with the wall of the room. Then rotate downward until your hips are back and square to the floor. Note: This exercise can be modified by keeping the bottom leg’s knee down on the ground and rotating on the ball of the extended top legs foot.
Palm Sweeps- From a hover or plank position, stretch one arm forward about an inch from the floor. Rotate that arm wide and to the outside of the body and then tuck under your body. Then repeat that motion with the other arm. Note: This exercise can be modified by dropping your knees to the ground underneath hips for more support.
Rockin’ Plank- To accelerate your heart rate during a plank, rock your hips back toward your heels keeping your butt down. Shoot forward back into the plank position. From that position, shift your weight forward and then back.
Oblique Side Crunches- In addition to working central abdominal muscles, a side hover can activate your oblique muscles as well. Set up a side hover with elbow under shoulder, hips square to a wall in the room you are in. Stretch your top arm over your head and your top leg in line with your body, foot off the floor. Squeeze the top arm’s elbow to your top knee by doing an oblique crunch in the side hover. Note:
This exercise can be modified by putting the bottom leg’s knee on the ground.
For beginners, try each exercise one or two times to get a feel for how hard it is for you. If you are able to execute the exercise without extreme fatigue, try doing three sets of seven reps for each side or posture.
More advanced participants: Do four sets of 10 reps for each side or exercise.
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