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Planks are one of the most commonly performed ab exercises. They are also one of the worst ab exercises you can do. In this video, I’m going to show you why planks are most often a waste of time when it comes to getting stronger abs that look good in any lighting. More importantly, I’m going to give you many different standard plank alternatives to give your abs the challenge that they need to start seeing much better results for your hard work.
The key to any ab exercises effectiveness is how much it is capable of demanding effort when doing it. Simply doing a thousand reps of a crunch is not going to do nearly as much for your ab strength and development as doing much fewer reps of a more challenging series of ab movements. The issue with the plank is that we very quickly outgrow its effectiveness. In fact, I believe that if you can easily do 60 seconds of a standard on elbows plank that you should definitely be looking for a much harder version of the exercise.
The best part about planks is that there are many different ways to do them. Just changing the number of points of contact with the ground for instance is a tremendous way to get a better effect from the exercise by making the core work harder to maintain your stability. That said, we do more than just change the points of contact in this video. Instead, I show you how to start by performing standing versions of this popular and overused ab exercise for a better effect.
When standing, you can perform the oak tree step out plank. Place your arms into the same position as you would when doing a plank on your elbows on the ground and wrap a resistance band around your elbows and wrists. Now, step away from the anchor point to increase the resistance and try not to allow the band to bend your torso to the side. This is a great plank alternative since it introduces a new force vector into the equation (the challenge in the frontal plane) that is nonexistent with the standard version of the exercise.
You can alternatively, hold some dumbbells in your hands and do a tight grapevine walk to one side and then the other. The rotation of the hips places a challenge on the core to remain stabile and prevent excessive motion at the core. The use of the weights increases the amount of force the abs and obliques will have to generate to prevent the excessive motion. This can be made even harder by placing the weights overhead and reaching your arms as high above you as you can while still doing the side walk.
You can obviously make the more familiar plank (done on your elbows on the ground) more challenging as well. The first way I like to do this is by adding a resistance band to the exercise and performing a plank press out. The unilateral press here places a challenge on the torso again to make sure you don’t allow your body to tilt towards the side the band is on. Keep pressing and holding the plank and you will find you won’t be able to last nearly as long as you do when simply planking alone.
You can also place your feet on a wall to dramatically increase the challenge (and effectiveness) of the plank. The jax plank is a perfect way to do this. Try to keep your feet pressed into the wall at all times to ensure that your core is working hard.
Finally, the tilting barbell and twisting barbell plank variations are super challenging but very rewarding alternatives to a standard plank. You may find that you can only do these for 10 seconds at a time. That is perfectly fine. If you treat your planks as a series of timed holding reps instead of one static hold throughout, you will find that you will be able to use more difficult variations and get more out of them in the long run.
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For more videos on ab exercises that work the best and ab workouts that train your lower abs with more than just planks, be sure to subscribe to our channel here on youtube at