5 planks you should be doing

30 June 2015 by
First published: 2 July 2015

The best bodies, the healthiest and the fittest, all share one thing in common – a strong core – so here are the 5 planks you should be doing to make your torso rock-solid, too.

Core essentially means anything that isn’t classed as a limb and it’s responsible for all manner of things, including your ability to stand on one leg, injury prevention and trunk rotation. No worthwhile exercise routine neglects to work your mid-section, and this means at some point you’re going to have to do a plank.

Admittedly it’s not the most inspiring of exercises, so surely there’s a better way to hard-core than just planking morning, noon and night? So prepare to draw your belly buttons to your spines, work right through this circuit of moves before repeating 2-3 times… and don’t hate me, hate gravity.


1.    High plank hold with walkout

Do: 30-60 seconds

From standing, slowly lower your hands down onto the ground in front of your feet, trying to keep your legs straight. Walk the hands out away from the body into a press-up position. From here, simply tense everything. Hold for 30 seconds, or longer if this is too comfortable, before walking your hands back in towards your body, back up to standing.


2.    Side plank rotations

Do: 30-60 seconds

From your high plank starting position, keeping your legs locked out, twist your toes round so that the sides of your feet are flat on the floor. As you twist your feet, one hand should leave the ground, shooting straight up to the sky so that your arms are parallel with one another on either side of your chest. Repeat this action on the other arm. Really focus on your waist as you move gradually between your right and left arm because this is what we’re targeting here. Keep moving for the duration.


3.    Plank knee drops

Do: 30-60 seconds

Come into the traditional plank hold, elbows under the shoulders, feet a few inches apart. Tilt the pelvis under, performing a small Mr Bean-type thrust to ensure that the spine is kept flat. Once you’re comfortable and you’ve engaged your core simply by drawing the belly button up towards the spine, you’re ready to begin. Drop both knees simultaneously to the ground so that they land on the floor and then raise them back into your starting plank position. Do as many reps as possible in 30-60 seconds. Try to keep movement elsewhere in the body to an absolute minimum.


4.    Plank hold

Do: 60 seconds

Boring as it may be, an effective tool for measuring your core strength is to check how long you can hold the regular plank. You’ll also be working out while doing it. Adopt the classic plank position on your elbows and hold for as long as possible. A good time is one minute plus, so make that the goal.


5.    Superman

Do: 30-60 seconds

People often mistake a strong core for a rippling set of abs but the this is not always the case. A strong core involves strong back muscles too and our last exercise is to target the posterior chain (the view from behind). Lying flat on your front with buttocks clenched, knees and feet together, raise both feet a couple of inches off the floor and hold them there. Shoot one arm forward, with the other positioned by the  hip. As you take the forward arm back to the corresponding hip, move the arm by your hip forward, extending both arms in their respective directions as far as you can. As you bring one arm forward, try gently raising the chest off the floor, conscious of the movement of your shoulder blades.