Great exercises you might not be doing: The Plank

If you’ve never done “The Plank” it’s a core-strengthening exercise you simply must try.
You may wish a pirate had made you walk the plank at sea instead after giving these gut-busters a legitimate effort.
Most people know about sit-ups, ab crunches and even using exercise balls for sit-ups, but the plank is arguably the most underrated ab exercise.
For the Plank, lay face down on the floor or use an exercise mat or other flat surface. You can do them comfortably most places.
Place the elbows and forearms underneath your chest. Prop yourself up to form a bridge using your toes and forearms and keep your back flat and hips parallel to the ground.
It’s important to keep your back in a flat alignment – don’t let it sag or prop up too high. Looking straight ahead will help you keep your back straight
Basically, you’re lifting yourself up to a parallel position and supporting yourself.
It doesn’t sound that hard, but try holding that position for 1-2 minutes at a time. It will give your abs a great workout.
The Plank not only works strength, but will help build your muscle endurance.
To make this even harder, try side planks in which you prop yourself up from the side on one arm, using similar principles of the flat plank.
I recommend doing two or three sets for as long as you can go to start. After you’ve gained strength in these, then start trying to do three sets for 1 1-2 minutes each and then increase the time as you get better at them.
The core is at the center of everything we do and there aren’t many better exercises for it than the plank.

At Home Fitness consultant Aaron Dorksen’s blog deals with a variety of fitness topics, ranging from workout tips, motivational ideas and feature stories on how exercise impacts people’s lives. E-mail him with comments, questions or ideas for future blogs at aaron@athomefitness.com

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