7 PLANK UPGRADES
Once you can hold one for two minutes, the gains level out. Use these upgrades to get your abs work back on track
First, make sure your basic plank’s up to scratch: abs tight, glutes tensed, body perfectly straight… then make it harder. “Bring your elbows out in front a little, then as you brace everything, drive your elbows into the floor,” says Joe Lightfoot, founder of Results Inc gym. “Feel your lats and abs engage. Quality, not quantity, should be your focus.”
Get into a normal plank with a sandbag slightly ahead of you and to one side. Then use one arm to drag it across your body. Switch arms and drag it back. “You can also use a small stack of plates,” says Lightfoot. “Transfer them all to one side, then move them back.”
This one adds instability and co-ordination to the mix. “Start in a regular plank position and move from being on your elbows to your hands,” says trainer Adam Wakefield. “Moving one arm at a time, try to place your hand where your elbow was, then reverse the process.” For extra triceps work, add in a press-up between reps.
RUSSIAN PRESS UP
This one strengthens your triceps – and if you’re working on muscle-ups, it’ll improve the transition from pull-up to dip. “Do a press-up, but at the bottom of the rep, lower yourself onto your forearms – then drive back up,” says Wakefield. “You’ll get some of the movement from pressing forwards with your toes, but try to minimise it.”
If you’ve tried a renegade row, you know that the demand on your abs is highest when the dumbbell leaves the floor. Enhance the effect with a pair of benches: set up with your forearms on one and feet on another, then pick a dumbbell up from the floor with one hand and hold for time. Your obliques will thank you later.
STIR THE POT
You’ll need a gym ball for this one. “Get into a plank position with your forearms on the ball, then move the ball in a circular motion while keeping your hips as still as possible,” says Wakefield. “Do five to ten reps in one direction, then switch directions. The slower you go, the better.” Your abs will be worked from unexpected angles.