01/03/2024

Challenge and enhance your body in new ways with these unusual plank variations you’ve never tried before.

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What are the benefits of a strong core?

Having a strong core has many benefits for overall health, fitness, and daily activities. Here are some key benefits of developing a strong core:

Improved Posture: A strong core helps maintain proper spinal alignment and stability, promoting good posture. By supporting your torso, a strong core reduces lean, minimizes strain on your back, and improves overall body alignment.

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Source: Courtesy of CrossFit Inc.

Greater stability and balance: The core muscles play a vital role in maintaining balance and stability. A strong core provides a solid foundation for movement, whether you’re engaging in sports, exercise routines, or even simple everyday activities like walking or standing on one leg.

Accident prevention: A well-developed core provides stability to the entire body, reducing the risk of injury during physical activities. It helps protect your back, improves spinal integrity, and can prevent strains, sprains, and other musculoskeletal problems.

Best Athletic Performance: Many athletic movements engage the core muscles as the primary source of power and stability. A strong core allows for efficient energy transfer from the lower body to the upper body and vice versa. It can improve performance in activities such as running, jumping, throwing and rotational movements.

Improved functional strength: Core strength is essential for performing daily activities such as lifting, bending, twisting and reaching. A strong core allows for more control and power in these movements, making them easier and more efficient to execute.

Reduced back pain: Weak core muscles can contribute to back pain and discomfort. Strengthening your core muscles can help relieve or prevent back pain by providing better support for your spine and reducing the stress on your back.

Better overall fitness: A strong core complements other fitness goals and exercises. It allows you to perform exercises with better form and stability, maximizing the effectiveness of your workouts and reducing the risk of injury.

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Improved breathing and organ support: The core muscles, especially the diaphragm, are involved in breathing. Strengthening the core can improve respiratory efficiency, allowing for deeper breaths and better oxygenation. Furthermore, a strong core provides support to internal organs and contributes to their optimal functioning.

Remember, core strength extends beyond just the abdominal muscles. It includes the muscles of the back, the muscles of the hip and those of the pelvic region. Therefore, a well-rounded core-strengthening routine should target all of these areas for comprehensive benefits.

Unusual plank variations

Add them to your workout.

Table Variation 1 Da Vinci Table

  • It can be done with a headband or a cord
  • An effective core exercise while standing
  • A great progression from the plank to test and improve your stability and strength
  • Always maintain a significant level of tension
  • Avoid any movement
  • Tight core
  • Stable upper body position
  • Hold the position for 20 60 seconds

Plank Variation 2 Plank with bandaged parting

  • This variation adds instability by incorporating a rowing motion with the band
  • Only 3 points of contact with the floor instead of 4
  • Start in push up position
  • Keep your core tucked in and your glutes engaged
  • Make it harder by increasing the level of tension in the fascia
  • Start with 8 to 12 reps on each side

Plank Variation 3 Copenhagen Plank

  • Place your top leg on the bench
  • Guide the other leg under the bench
  • Keep the core tight
  • A great way to step up the side plank challenge

Watch the video below from Mind Pump TV to learn all the technical tips for each exercise:

Mind Pump TV is a popular fitness and wellness channel on YouTube. It is hosted by a group of fitness professionals: Adam Schafer, Sal Di Stefano and Justin Andrews. They are known for their informative and entertaining content that focuses on debunking fitness myths, providing evidence-based fitness advice, and promoting a balanced and sustainable approach to health and fitness.

Why does the plank work so well to improve core strength?

The plank exercise is very effective for improving core strength due to several key factors:

Activation of multiple muscle groups: The plank engages a wide range of muscles simultaneously, including the rectus abdominis (six-muscle muscles), transverse abdominis (deep core muscles), obliques (lateral abdominal muscles), erector spinae (muscles of the back), hip muscles and shoulder muscles. This exercise recruits and challenges these muscles in a coordinated way, leading to an improvement in overall core strength.

Isometric contraction: The plank involves an isometric contraction, which means that the muscles are activated and held in a static position without any joint movement. Isometric exercises are especially effective for strengthening your core because they build endurance and stability. By holding the plank position, you create tension in your core muscles, forcing them to work harder to maintain stability and support your body.

Core stabilization: The main goal of the plank is to stabilize the core, especially the spine and pelvis. As you hold the plank position, your core muscles work to keep your spine aligned and prevent excessive sagging or arching. This stabilizing function strengthens the deep core muscles responsible for maintaining good posture, balance, and overall spinal integrity.

Deep core muscle engagement: The plank exercise targets deep core muscles, including the transverse abdominis, which is a crucial muscle for core stability. These deep muscles aren’t easily activated through traditional crunches or sit-ups, but are actually engaged during planks. Strengthening these deep core muscles provides a solid foundation for overall core strength.

Whole Body Involvement: While the main focus of the plank is on the core, it also engages other muscle groups throughout the body, such as the glutes, shoulders and legs. This whole-body involvement creates a more integrated and functional core strength, as the core muscles learn to work in coordination with other muscle groups.

Gradual progression: The plank exercise offers various levels of progression, allowing people to start at their current level of fitness and gradually build up the challenge. As you get stronger, you can increase the duration of your plank grip, try different variations of the plank, or introduce instability using an exercise ball or other equipment. This progressive nature makes the plank a versatile exercise for the ongoing development of core strength.

Remember to maintain proper form and alignment during the plank exercise to maximize its benefits and reduce the risk of injury. It is essential to actively engage your core muscles, keep your body in a straight line, avoid sagging or hunching, and breathe deeply throughout the exercise.

What are the core muscles?

The core muscles refer to a group of muscles located in the torso, which provide stability, support and movement to the spine and pelvis. These muscles work together to maintain posture, protect the spine, and facilitate efficient movement. The core muscles include:

  • Rectus Abdominis: Commonly known as the six-pack muscles, the rectus abdominis runs vertically along the front of the abdomen. Helps to flex the trunk, for example during sit-ups or crunches.
  • Transverse Abdomen: This is the deepest layer of the abdominal muscles, running horizontally around the abdomen. Acts like a natural corset, providing stability and compression to the abdominal contents. The transverse abdominis plays a crucial role in core stability and is often referred to as the body’s inner weight belt.
  • Internal and external obliques: The oblique muscles are located on the sides of the abdomen. The internal obliques run diagonally, while the external obliques run in the opposite direction. These muscles allow for trunk rotation, lateral flexion, and contribute to overall core stability.
  • Erector Spinae: The erector spinae muscles are a group of muscles located on both sides of the spine. They extend from the base of the skull to the pelvis and help maintain upright posture, support the spine during lifting and bending movements, and control flexion and extension of the spine.
  • Multifidus: The multifidus muscles are small, deep muscles located along the spine. They provide stability to individual vertebrae, help maintain proper spinal alignment, and contribute to core strength and control.
  • Diaphragm: Although primarily a respiratory muscle, the diaphragm plays a significant role in core stability and control. It is a large, dome-shaped muscle that separates the chest and abdominal cavities. By coordinating with the other core muscles, the diaphragm helps maintain intra-abdominal pressure, supports the spine, and aids breathing.
  • Pelvic floor muscles: The pelvic floor muscles are a group of muscles that form a hammock-like support structure at the bottom of the pelvis. These muscles help stabilize the pelvis, control bladder and bowel function, and provide support to organs in the pelvic region. Strengthening the pelvic floor muscles is especially important for women during and after pregnancy.

It’s important to note that core strength extends beyond these individual muscles. The core works as an integrated unit, with the muscles working in coordination to provide stability, control and efficient movement.

Therefore, it is helpful to engage in exercises that target all of these core muscles collectively for optimal core strength and function.

Learn more

10 HIIT exercises to lose belly fat faster

How to use the dumbbell bench press to build a big chest

How many exercises do you need to maximize muscle growth?

The best exercises for hanging abs

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