Fitness Tips These 7 routines will make your planks super effective

Planks are one of the most effective exercises anyone can do because they fire up so many muscles at once, especially the core and upper body.

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Planks are one of the most effective exercises anyone can do because they fire up so many muscles at once, especially the core and upper body.

You can make them even harder by adding a pair of dumbbells.

Grab a pair of three- to 10-pounders and throw these moves into your next routine.

Since plank position can be tough on the wrists, alternate these plank variations with moves that give your hands a break, such as squats or lunges.

Plank and rotate

Twisting in a plank position fires up the core and works those love handles.

  • Begin in a plank position holding a dumbbell in each hand, keeping your wrists stiff to protect the joints. Open your feet a little wider than hip distance.

  • Lift your left hand to the ceiling, twisting through your entire torso. Your pelvis will rotate, but keep it level.

  • Bring your left hand back to the floor, and repeat this action on the other side to complete one rep.

  • Do 10 to 15 reps to complete a set.

Plank with row

Work your arms and abs while improving your posture with this simple move.

  • Start in a plank position holding a weight in your right hand.

  • Keep your torso stable as you pull your elbow toward the ceiling, squeezing your right shoulder blade toward your spine.

  • Lower the weight to the floor with control to complete one rep.

  • Complete 10 to 15 reps, then switch sides.

Plank row and rotate

This plank row variation adds a twist.

  • Start in a plank position holding a weight in your right hand.

  • Keep your torso stable as you pull your elbow toward the ceiling, squeezing your right shoulder blade toward your spine.

  • Rotate the torso and raise the right arm into the air.

  • Lower the weight to the floor with control to complete one rep.

  • Complete 10 to 15 reps, then switch sides.

Plank with triceps and kickback

Another move that tones your arms, butt, and core is this triceps kickback variation.

  • Start in a plank position holding a weight in each hand. Bend your left elbow and pull it up so it's in line with your shoulder.

  • Pull your navel toward your spine to engage your abs, which will help you stay balanced.

  • Exhale as you do a triceps kickback by extending your left hand behind you. Inhale to bend your elbow. This counts as one rep.

  • Complete 10 to 15 reps on each side.

Side plank with reverse fly

Side planks tone the muffin top, and adding the reverse fly into the mix not only challenges the abs a bit more but also tones the back of the shoulder. Squeeze your inner thighs together for added stability.

  • Start in a side plank on your left side, holding your weight in your right hand with your right arm parallel to the floor.

  • Exhale and pull your abs toward your spine to stabilize your torso as you raise your right arm to the ceiling. Do not let your hand travel behind your shoulder. Lower the weight back to starting position to complete one rep.

  • If you feel unstable in this position, split your legs, bringing your right leg forward to steady yourself.

  • Do 10 to 15 reps before switching sides.

Plank and straight arm kick back

Work your arms and abs together with this plank variation.

  • Start in a plank position holding a dumbbell in each hand. Open your feet wider than hip width for a stronger base of support.

  • Lift your left arm behind you as high as you can. Bring the left arm back into plank to complete one rep.

  • Do 10 to 15 reps with each arm.

View photos of positions in gallery.

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