The plank exercise is the one that targets both arms and abdominal core. If your target is to strengthen your arms and your abdominal core, this exercise is for you. Like any other type of exercise, there are many forms with each one focusing on a particular area. With the core and arms being our focus, the side and forward plank exercises are mainly for these areas.
If you have just started out with these exercises, it is recommended for you to begin with the Forearm Plank and then move into the Straight Arm.
Begin by laying face-down on the floor with feet shoulder-width apart. With your forearms as support, raise yourself. Next, by pulling in your abdominal core, raise up the rest of your body so your body is in a straight line from head to heels. Hold for a minute or longer if you can. This plank tends to work the core more than the arms.
This plank starts out the same, but instead of using your forearms as support, your arms are fully extended and straight – like the peak position of a push-up. Your body should still be in a straight line from head to heels. Hold for a minute or longer if you can. This plank works both the core and the arms, but may be too demanding in the beginning. With that being said, start out with the Forearm and work up to this one.
The Side Plank begins with the Straight Arm, but then here’s the twist (no pun intended), you turn your body, leaving your one arm and leg to do the supporting, with your shoulders and feet still in a straight line. If you turn to your right side, your left foot should rest on the inside of your right foot; left arm should be pointed up and extended out. Hold for a minute or longer; do three reps. Rest and repeat, but use your other arm and leg.
If you’re up for a test, this one will surely push you to the max. Begin with the Straight Arm and move to the Side Plank, but instead of holding it, go back to the Straight Arm and do a Side Plank on your other side. Then return to the Striaght Arm – that’s one rep. Try doing 12 reps. This exercise ultimately works both the core and the arms because of the constant movement and the shifting of weights toward the arms and the abdominal core muscles. You will want to work up to this exercise by beginning with the Straight Arms and the Side Planks individually until you have first worked on your arms and abs to gain strength.
Small dumbbells can be held while doing all of these planks. Doing the side planks with dumbbells and doing the forward planks with resistance bands around your ankles and/or wrists can help these exercises be more demanding.
As for doing other plank exercises, Think of your body as a solid rigid plank of wood. Keep your body straight; no slooping or arching of the back!