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Plank Variations That Torch Your Core from All Angles

Static Hold Forearm Plank

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Doing isometric holds can be a challenging and effective way to tone your body.

  • Start in forearm plank with elbows under shoulders, hips in line with shoulders, and lower abdominal wall pulled in and up (tensing lower abs).
  • Keep gaze forward or on hands, but don't drop head! Start by holding this for 30 seconds, taking deep breaths in and deepening the activation of your abdominal wall with each exhale.
  • Every day, add 15 seconds to hold.

Photo: Sara Gunderson

Forearm Plank with Booty Pulses

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  • Start in forearm plank. Keep stomach pulling in and up, as well as hips in line with shoulders.
  • Lift one leg up, keeping the body in line, and bend the knee so foot is flexed facing the ceiling.
  • Squeeze the cheek of the lifted leg to pulse the foot up toward the ceiling/sky.
  • Repeat for 2 sets of 8 pulses, then switch to the other leg.

Photo: Sara Gunderson

Plank with Knee Taps

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Get ready to sculpt those lower abs. Your exhalations are key in this plank variation to ensure you are using your abs and protecting your lower back.

  • Start in forearm plank. Take a deep inhale, and as you exhale make a "Shh" sound, pulling the stomach in (like buttoning high-waisted pants that are too tight).
  • As belly pulls in, tap one knee on the mat or floor, then return to a straight leg on inhale.
  • Tap each knee 8 times each for a total of 16 knee taps.

Photo: Sara Gunderson

Corkscrew Plank

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Corkscrew plank carves out those tricky obliques. Again, you want to focus on using those exhalations to help initiate the movement of your body.

  • Start in forearm plank, and keep the upper body in line the entire set.
  • Take a deep inhale. And as you "shh" to exhale, squeeze obliques and twist hips.
  • You do NOT need to get hip on the ground. A simple "corkscrew" rotation in the stomach is totally effective.
  • Inhale to come center, and exhale to the other side. Repeat on each side 8 times, for a total of 16 reps.

Photo: Sara Gunderson

Plank Toe Taps

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Use your core to stay stable, and that booty to move your legs.

  • Start in forearm plank. Keep shoulders above elbows and stomach engaged, isolate and squeeze right booty cheek.
  • As that cheek isolates on exhale, lift leg to hover and tap toe out to the right.
  • Inhale to come back to center, and repeat on the left side. Repeat on each leg 8 times for a total of 16 reps.

Photo: Sara Gunderson

Plank Balance

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This variation is a true mind and body toner. It'll work your balance and strength all at once.

  • Start in forearm plank, but this time with wrists in line with elbows. Spend a few moments here feeling secure in plank.
  • Begin to squeeze right cheek to lift the right heel up to the ceiling, hips staying in line with one another.
  • Take a moment there, then extend left arm out in front of you. If you wobble, don't worry about it.
  • Keep the core engaged, and spine long. Try to hold for 15 seconds on each side.

Photo: Sara Gunderson

Plank Oblique Crunches

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For this variation, begin in a traditional plank.

  • Keep wrists under shoulders, hips tucked under. Keep gaze a few inches in front of hands, centered.
  • Lift right leg up and use exhale to bring right knee to right arm. Shoulders should stay above the wrists and arms stay straight.
  • Inhale, and as you exhale move knee to left arm, tapping the biceps with knee. Repeat this right-to-left movement 8 times and then return to plank.
  • Lift left leg up, and use exhale to bring left knee to left arm. Move knee from left to right 8 times before returning to plank.
  • Use those exhales to get the knee to the triceps and biceps, so that you truly use and tone your core during this set.

Photo: Sara Gunderson

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