Ab planks work your abdominals, back and upper body. They especially strengthen your transverse abdominus, a muscle that acts like a corset: decreasing your waist size, improving your posture and providing stability for your body throughout the day. Ab planks can be customized to work your core from all angles, to improve your strength to help you reach your fitness goals.
The Basic Plank
Position yourself face-down on the floor, resting on your hands and knees. Brace your abs, and push your knees off the floor so your weight is distributed evenly between your toes and hands. Lower your hips so your body forms a straight line, like a plank. Hold this position for 60 seconds, and work up to holding the position two minutes. If you experience discomfort in your wrists, rest on your elbows.
Side planks target your obliques while also providing an upper body workout. Get into the basic plank position, and begin shifting your weight into your right hand. Turn your body, stacking your right leg on top of your left leg, and raise your left arm straight up in the air. Hold this position for 30 seconds, return to the basic plank position and repeat on the other side. To add difficulty to this move, try raising your top leg for a few seconds at a time until you can keep your leg lifted for the duration of the plank.
One-legged planks work your core and challenge your balance. Get into basic plank position, resting on your elbows. Bring your right leg close to the mid-line of the body, and stack your left foot on top of your right foot so your weight is distributed between your elbows and right foot. Try to hold this position for 30 seconds before returning to the basic plank position and repeating the one-legged plank with the right foot stacked on top of your left foot.
Twisting planks will challenge your core and especially target your oblique muscles. Get into the basic plank position. Keeping your hips low, bring your right knee under your body toward your left shoulder, return to the starting position and then do the same with your left knee and right shoulder. Do 12 to 15 repetitions on both sides, and work up to 30 reps on each side.