Walk the Plank to six-pack abs

Arguably the simplest, best way to work your abdominal muscles is the Plank.
Most people know about sit-ups, ab crunches and even using exercise balls for sit-ups, but the Plank out-performs them all when it comes to results.
It’s a core-strengthening exercise worth trying.
Here’s how to do a basic Plank, also known as a Hover:
* Lay face down on the floor or use an exercise mat or other flat surface
* Get in starting Plank position with forearms and toes on the floor.
* 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.
* Hold this position for 10 seconds to start.
* Over time work up to 30, 45, 60 or more seconds.
It doesn’t sound that hard, but try holding that position for any length of time and you‘ll see how challenging it is. 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 or 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