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Trainer Charlee Atkins shares bodyweight core plank exercises



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Men’s Health / Eric Rosati

Sometimes the basics are the best things you can do. This is relevant to your training, especially if you have limited space, time, and / or equipment. You may not be stimulating your brain as much as other movements, but your muscles may be better off sticking to the standards rather than trying the latest eye-catching workout you can find on social media without proper guidance. You are also in a better place to measure your overall fitness by sticking to simplicity.

“The classic plank is one of the best exercises for body weight,” says trainer Charlee Atkins (CSCS can hold a board). “

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When exercising your core, the plank is one of the best and easiest moves to do for a reason. You will use your entire core if you do the exercise correctly. Your rhomboids, lats, lower back, abs, and glutes work hard to keep your spine in the correct position. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make this basic exercise a little more interesting. This full core engagement remains imperative even as you take other offshoots of the plank. In the meantime, you’ll shift some of your focus during the exercise while providing much-needed variety to otherwise simple routines.

Atkins shared some of her favorite boards, none of which require anything other than your body weight and some space on the floor to stretch out. If you are concerned about your elbows, take a yoga mat or towel as well.

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Do each exercise for 30 seconds

  • Side plank
  • Classic plank
  • Plank rocker
  • Plank reached

    Before you focus on side boards, board rockers, or board reach, first make sure you understand what you are doing with a standard board. That means you will be able to achieve the full-core engagement described above – flat back, pulling the belly button into your spine, neutral head position – and that holding the position for more than 30 seconds is a challenge, to start. If you can only sit on your elbows for minutes (or even longer), you are not doing the core engagement exercise properly. Get the move down and add the other versions to your repertoire.

    Once you are a plank professional, you can hold any style for periods of up to a minute or as long as you can maintain that commitment. Do all of the planks in one session with limited rest between each movement for three rounds for solid, spine-safe core workout.

    Want to learn more about Atkins? Check out our series of Try Her Move training tips. You can also take on her new 30 day challenge on our Streaming All Out Studio app, check out her Le Sweat workout app, and follow her on Instagram to find out when she’s doing live workouts from her living room.

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