Why the Plank Is Still the Best Core Exercise

It's a key move for beginners and advanced exercisers alike.

Building a strong core doesn't need to be about doing 239 variations on the crunch. Instead, you can start to see definition in your abs with just one simple move: the plank. But unlike the traditional crunch, the plank has the added benefit of working your arms and front side body, too.

Outside of a great core exercise, the high plank (demonstrated here by NYC-based trainer Rachel Mariotti) builds shoulder stability because you're holding yourself up through your forearms, biceps, and shoulders, says Stephany Bolivar, CrossFit coach and personal trainer at ICE NYC. You'll also feel this in your chest, quads and glutes-as long as you engage everything correctly.

High Plank Benefits and Variations

Developing a stronger core will help support your lower back, which can improve posture and reduce back pain. You'll also find that having a stronger core will help you in all types of activities, from running and hiking to weightlifting and yoga. (See: Why Core Strength Is So Important-and Has Nothing to Do with a Six-Pack)

Scale down by dropping to your knees. To make this move more challenging, try lifting one leg. Switch sides to balance it out. (And don't forget to try the elbow plank.)

How to Do a High Plank

A. Start on all fours on the floor with hands stacked directly under shoulders and knees bent and stacked directly under hips.

B. Step one leg back at a time to come into high plank position on palms, actively squeezing heels and glutes together and drawing navel to spine.

Hold for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat for 2 to 4 sets. As you build strength, increase time to 1 minute or more.

High Plank Form Tips

  • Maintain a straight line from head to heels.
  • Actively push away from floor and don't allow hips to droop.
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