Core Strengthening Exercises – The Plank

Abdominal Plank

Traditionally, when people think of doing core strengthening exercises or want to exercise for a flat belly, they think of doing abdominal crunches and sit ups.

For years, the fitness industry told us if we used their gadgets, such as the Ab Roller or the Ab Lounge, and simply did endless numbers of crunches and sit-ups that we could have a flat belly.

We now know that the fitness industry has been wrong about a lot of things especially when it comes to doing long, slow cardio, telling us that more is always better of everything.

I don’t know about yours, but my belly never got all that flat from the countless hours I spent working my abs that way.

I knew there had to be a smarter way. Perhaps a method that had been tested scientifically. And something that could be done right in your own home.

In my search into finding the best ab exercises, I discovered new research showing that these types of so-called core strengthening exercises not only didn’t activate the abdominal muscles to the extent that we thought they did, they may actually be more harmful to our bodies than beneficial.

You see, when we do a forward movement of the spine, as is done during a basic abdominal crunch, we don’t actually recruit all the abdominal muscle fibers to help with the movement as we do with some other core exercises. (More on those ahead…).

What this means is we are wasting our time with crunches and sit ups. And worse, risking neck and back injury.

There are better strengthening exercises for the core that will recruit more abdominal, low back, and gluteal muscles, allowing them to be challenged to grow and improve in performance.

These types of exercises will not only be more effective for core conditioning and help prevent future injuries to those areas, but they will also not lead to many of the neck and spine injuries that occur as a result of the movement of the crunch or sit up.

Core Strengthening Using The Plank

Ok, now that you know that sit ups and crunches will NOT give you a flat belly, let’s talk about a great beginner core strengthening exercise you can start using today.

It’s called the plank, and it’s awesome! You’ll know it’s working from the very second you get into the pose.

I am going to share with you 2 variations of the plank. A beginner’s position where you are on your elbows and a more advanced position where you have your arms extended.

There’s even ways to make the basic plank more advanced, but I wanted to start you off with something you can do and see results with quickly.

1. Elbow Plank 

Elbow plank core strengthening exercise

  • Get on the floor face down balancing your weight on your elbows and your toes
  • Your arms should be bent to a 90 degree angle and should be directly below your shoulders
  • Brace your core so that there is a nice straight line between your shoulders and your feet. No cheating with hips up in the air!

Start by holding the pose for 20-30 seconds and practice until you can hold for 1 minute and beyond.

Once you can hold the elbow plank for at least 1 minute then go ahead and move to the regular abdominal plank.

2. Abdominal plank

Abdominal Plank

  • Get on the floor face down balancing your weight between your hands and your toes
  • Your arms should be fully extended and directly below your shoulders
  • Brace your core so that there is a nice straight line between your shoulders and your feet. No cheating with hips up in the air!

Start by holding the pose for 20-30 seconds and practice until you can hold for 1 minute and beyond.

That’s all there is to it!

Action Step: Start practicing the elbow plank every single day until you can hold it for 1 minute straight. Then start practicing your abdominal plank everyday until you can hold it for 2 minutes.

Once you can do that, you will have drastically improved the overall strength of your core, well beyond what any sit ups or crunches could do, and you will have slashed your risk of injury to your lower back.

Your Weight Loss Coach,

Susan Campbell, MS

*** if you’d like to learn more bodyweight exercises just like these that you can do right at home then you may want to check out my home workouts program, Ultimate Home Workouts by clicking here now.

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