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The planks you should be doing (but probably aren't)

And by incorporating other body parts, Stolz elevates the exercise from core-strengthener to total-body power-endurance move. "I consider these planks a full-body exercise, because I'm moving either my hips, arms or legs and trying to control or stabilize the rest of my body. Of course you feel them in the core, but I have clients who also report feeling it in the glutes, obliques, back and shoulders."

Since each 3-part plank becomes progressively more difficult—you'll advance from adding hip movement, to adding arm movement, to adding leg movement, then to adding both arm and leg movement—Stolz advises working them into your regular routine based on your fitness level. "The routine can vary greatly depending on the level of the member," he says. "For many of my clients, I use the planks as either a warm-up or activation, or I throw it right into the workout as part of a circuit. These can be done every day, but it's important to know where to start."

Plank with hip flexion and extension

Get into standard plank position, hands directly beneath shoulders. Without bending elbows, lower hips towards ground, then drive hips upwards toward the ceiling, so that head points downwards, forming an upside-down V with your body. Do 3 to 5 reps. 

Plank with left and right lateral flexion

In standard plank position, keep hands and head stationary and back flat, resting on your toes, as you drive hips from left to right. Do 3 to 5 reps. 

Plank with hip rotation

In standard plank position, rotate your shoulders and torso, rolling from your toes onto the sides of your feet, in order to bring hips down towards floor, from left to right and back. Do 3 to 5 reps. 

Plank with leg flexion and extension

Get into standard plank position, hands directly beneath shoulders, but lift right leg off of floor. Drive right knee towards hands, then drive right heel towards ceiling, forming an upside-down V with your body, keeping a straight line from heel to your head. Do 3 to 5 reps; switch legs and repeat. 

Plank with leg abduction and adduction

In standard plank position, keeping back flat and head and hands stationary and right leg elevated, drive hips from left to right, crossing right leg over left and back, keeping right foot flexed. Do 3 to 5 reps; switch legs and repeat. 

Plank with leg rotation

In plank position with right leg elevated, right knee bent, pivot on your left foot and rotate hips and shoulders to the left as you drive your right knee across your torso from right to left, then drive right heel up and to the left behind you, rotating your hips to the right. Do 3 to 5 reps; switch legs and repeat. 

Plank with arm flexion and extension

Get into standard plank position, hands directly beneath shoulders, and lift right hand off ground. Lower hips towards ground, driving extended right arm forward, then drive hips upwards towards ceiling and drive extended right arm directly behind you, so that feet are flat and head points downwards, forming an upside-down V with your body. 

Plank with arm abduction and adduction

Get into standard plank position, hands directly beneath shoulders. Drive hips from left to right as you simultaneously drive right hand from hip to above your head in a semicircle. Think of the arm motion you make during a jumping jack. Do 3 to 5 reps; switch arms and repeat. 

Plank with arm rotation

In standard plank position, hands directly beneath shoulders, rotate hips to the right as you bring extended right arm up to shoulder height, then rotate hips to the left as you drive right hand beneath and across your torso. Do 3 to 5 reps; switch arms and repeat. 

Side plank with arm and leg abduction and adduction

Get into a side plank, resting on left forearm, feet stacked, right arm elevated. Mimic a jumping jack motion, bringing right leg up to hip height as you bring your right hand from hip height to above your head. Do 3 to 5 reps. (NOTE: With the side plank series, you will do all three planks on each side before switching to the opposite arms and legs and repeating the sequence). 

Side plank with arm and leg flexion and extension

Get into a side plank, resting on left forearm, right arm at side, and lift right leg up to hip height. Simultaneously drive right foot and right hand forward and backwards. Do 3 to 5 reps. 

Side plank with arm and leg rotation

Get into a side plank, resting on left forearm. With extend right arm, palm open, tap your right heel to the ground, then rotate your shoulders and hips to reach beneath and across your torso, crossing right leg over left to tap floor with toes, then return to start. Do 3 to 5 reps. 

The kneeling core workout

The kneeling core workout

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Full-body strength tool: ab wheel

Add instability (and intensity) with this simple prop.

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