Exercise

5 Moves to Tighten Your Tummy, Back and Shoulders

When it comes to exercise, it pays to work smarter, not harder. Compound exercises are a great way to accomplish because they allow you to engage multiple joints and muscle groups simultaneously and get more done in less time. Today we’re going to look at five compound plank variations to help focus on strengthening the core, back and shoulders along with total body toning.

Planks are already an excellent exercise because they allow you to target multiple muscle groups at once; you’re tightening that core and getting serious bonus work in the neck, arms, shoulders, back, booty and legs. And while I love all the benefits, I also sometimes have trouble staying focused holding a standard isometric plank for long periods of time (my mind starts to wander to everything else I’d rather be doing as I just sit there watching the seconds eternally tick past). So shaking it up with variations here and there helps keep my mind and my muscles engaged and focused on my goals.

Here are a few of my favorite go-to plank variations!

 

1. Standard plank to forearm plank

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Begin on your hands and toes, keeping your hands lined beneath up the shoulders. Keep your core tight and the hips in straight alignment (no hips sagging to the floor or booty up in the air).

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Lower onto your forearms one at a time, keeping the core tight and hips in straight alignment.

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Hold a forearm plank while keeping elbows below shoulders, forearms firmly pressed into mat, abdominals contracted to keep core tight and hips in straight alignment. Hold for one count and then press your way back up to a standard plank one arm at a time. Perform 10-15 reps for one set, leading with your left arm to lift and lower for half of the reps and switching to the right arm lead for the other half. (Modify by coming onto the knees instead of toes.)


2. Hip Taps

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Begin in a forearm plank.

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Keep forearms firmly planted on ground and twist  through the waist and tap the left side of your hips on the mat.

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Twist and tap right side of hips on mat. Complete a tap on both sides of hip to do one rep. Perform 10-15 reps for one set. (Modify by coming onto the knees instead of toes.)


3. Knee Taps

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Begin in a forearm plank.
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Bend knees and tap them lightly on the mat once, then straighten both legs and return to forearm plank.Perform 10-15 reps for one set.


4. Single Knee Taps

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Begin in a forearm plank.

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Tap left knee once on mat.

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Tap right knee once on mat and straighten leg to return to forearm plank. Complete a tap on each leg to do one rep. Perform 10-15 reps for one set.


5. Dolphin Plank

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Begin in a forearm plank.

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Lift your hips up into an inverted V, keeping core tight and forearms pressed into mat. Hold for one count.

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Return to forearm plank. Perform 10-15 reps for one set.


Perform four rounds of each move, resting for 2-4 breaths as needed between each set. Planks are tough stuff and will really challenge your strength, endurance, and mental fortitude. Just remember: They’re tough, but so are you. And you’re just going to get tougher and stronger each time you incorporate them. Modify as you need to and don’t feel bad about taking it at your own pace and building up strength as you go!

 

 

 

 

 

 

All writing and images copyright © 2017 Rachel Elise Weems Woods. This post is for educational purposes only. Always consult with your doctor before beginning this or any new exercise regime.

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