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

Men's Fitness - - Trainer | Intelligent Muscle -

SU­PER PLANK

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.”

SANDBAG DRAG

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.”

WALK­ING PLANK

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.”

RENE­GADE PLANK

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.

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