4 Key Plank Variations For A Strong Healthy Core

Social media is riddled with thousands of young fit people showing off as many creative ways they can doing core exercises for "shredded" abs. The problem with this is that most of them demonstrate them incorrectly and as a fit 25-year-old, will be strong enough to get away with it for a while. The other issue is that most of the people that need to do exercises for a strong core are so far away from these exercises and don't really have a starting point.

With this newsletter, I would like to share one of the most basic, yet safest ways to build a strong core from a beginner to someone more advanced. 

Step 1- The Basic Plank 

Don't let the word basic fool you into this being easy. The plank done well can be extremely taxing even for more advanced exercisers. 

How to do the plank video

1- Place your elbows on a comfortable surface below you
2- With long legs place either the weight on your knees (beginner) or your toes (intermediate/advanced). 
3- Keep the feet and legs together, squeeze the legs tight and drag the floor towards you with your elbows (as if you were trying to scrunch up a towel). 
4- Hold this position under tension for bursts of 20 seconds up to 60 seconds. 

Keep the glutes squeezed and the hips in line with the upper body. We want to avoid the hips being too high (tension comes off of the core), or too low (can place unwanted stress on the lower back). 

If you can do 60 seconds easily, add weight onto your back with either a weight vest or a weighted plate (from the gym). 

Step 2- The Stability Ball Plank

How to do the SB plank video

1- Use your elbow and forearms to create a base on the Stability Ball. 
2- Lengthen the legs keeping the feet together, squeezing the glutes.
3- Create a long spine, long legs and keep the forearms completely stable.
4- Aim for a 20-60 second hold

Avoid having the hips too high or too low as with the regular plank. 
Keep the arms as still as possible.
When finished come down gently to your knees before trying to get back up. 

Step 3- Stability Ball Roll Out


How to do the stability ball rollout video

1- Pretty much the same position as the stability ball plank except now we are moving the arms away from the body whilst keeping the body still. 

Only roll out as far as you can keeping your hips stable and level. 
If you go too far your hips will drop and can compromise your lower back. 
If you want to make this harder, try "stirring the pot" by doing circles in either direction for reps. 

Step 4- The Body Saw

How to do a body saw video

1- Place yourself into your regular plank position
2- use a towel or two sliders and place them under your toes.
3- Keeping tension throughout the whole body, use your elbows to push and pull yourself back and forth.
4- Only push out as far as you feel comfortable and your hips stay level. We want to avoid and lifting or sagging of your hips throughout the movement. 
5- Aim for sets of 10-15 reps

Start conservatively on this one and keep your back safe.
This will be considerably more taxing than the other plank variations, so shoot fro quality over quantity.
If you want to make it harder try pushing out over 3 seconds, pausing for 3 seconds and do a slow drag back over 3 seconds. 

The Takeaway

As tempting as it is to try lots of never seen before exercises that we bump into on social media, all we really need are the basics done well and done often. 

Yours in health

Patrick Fallis

Founder of Leaner