If you haven’t heard, crunches (and, god forbid, sit-ups) are out! To get stronger abs, improve your posture and have a flatter tummy, planks and variations of planks (along with other exercises) are excellent moves.
Planks strengthen the deepest layer of your abdominals, the transverse abdominis, along with the internal and external obliques and the more “popular” rectus abdominas (the six pack). The plank also strengthens the low back and hips for complete core
Proper execution of this exercise isn’t as easy as dropping to the ground and holding your body off the floor. Here’s how to do it right:
1.) Face down on the floor
2.) Tuck your toes under
3.) Prop yourself up on your elbows
4.) Align your elbows under your shoulders
5.) Lift your mid-section off the floor
6.) Hands/shoulders in slight external rotation or at least in line with your elbows
7.) Face & head looking towards floor
8.) Brace abs by thinking “tall & skinny”
9.) Work up to a 2-minute hold
I actually have a little work to do here, because, as you can see the bar is touching my mid-back
and not the upper back. This indicates I have shortened rectus abdominis.
Make this exercise easier:
1. Clasp hands together
2. Put feet wider apart for a larger base of support
3. Drop to your knees
Make this exercise harder (must maintain proper alignment and do not allow hips to tilt or dip):
1. Stack your feet so your right toe is touching your left heel
2. Lift one arm off the floor
3. Put arms on a BOSU or stability ball
If you are still doing crunches or sit-ups – just stop. Briefly, crunches tighten up your rectus abdominis, pulling your rib cage down and your shoulders forward, thus contributing to the rounded-shoulder, forward-head posture. This means poor posture and poor alignment, which can lead to dysfunction, weakness and pain. Working on spinal/core stability and endurance will improve your posture, ability to work harder, perform better…and get a flatter tummy.