Many ab workouts for women are geared toward toning superficial muscles. When it comes to ab strength, what is most important is actually working on the deep, core muscles. These are what support you in your day-to-day activities and help eliminate problems, such as back pain, joint issues and even help with weight control. By working deep-tissue muscles, the superficial (think six-pack) ones will also be toned, but you’ll improve your body’s health at the same time. At Ab Workouts for Women, we’ve tried just about every ab exercise imaginable and the plank has proven the most successful of ab workouts for women.
One of the greatest exercises, when it comes to ab workouts for women, is the plank. There are multiple positions to plank in (and no, we’re not talking about the lie-down-in-weird-places trend). Working all three of the stable plank exercises into your workout routine is one of the best ab workouts for women. Here’s how and why:
What makes planks one of the best ab workouts for women are their ability to strengthen core abdomen muscles, instead of superficial ones. In addition to working abs, planks also strengthen your biceps, forearms, shoulders, chest, calves, quads, glutes and neck.
Step 1. High Plank: The high plank is the one most yogis teach. Place your hands on the ground, directly under your shoulders and suspend your body onto your hands and toes, like the top of a pushup position. Keep your legs as close together as possible. Engage your core and hold. If this is too challenging, move your feet farther apart. Hold for 30 seconds. Rest. Repeat two times.
Step 2. Low Plank: Instead of placing your hands on the ground, drop down to your elbows, clasping your hands together. If this position hurts your knuckles, make a fist with one hand and wrap the other around it. Hold for 30 seconds. Rest. Repeat two more times.
Step 3. Side Planks: Rotate to your right side, placing your right palm on the ground. Stack your feet on top of each other and reach your left hand high in the air. Imagine you’re being squashed between two walls of glass, keeping your body as perpendicular to the ground as possible. Hold for 20 seconds. Start with a lower time on this exercise because it requires more strength from muscles we use less often. Repeat on the left side. Repeat each side two more times.
With all of the plank exercises, gradually, work your way up to longer times. A good goal to shoot for is to hit one-minute reps within the first two months, but everyone progresses at different rates so remember to listen to your body and adjust your reps accordingly.
Special Notes: When performing planks, always engage your abdominal muscles to the greatest degree possible. This will give you a better workout and help prevent injury. It’s also important to keep your back as flat as possible, flexing your abs will help. Failure to do so will put extra strain on your back and could result in back injuries.
If you feel your back sagging or any of the planks in the exercise plan above are too challenging, you can always modify each exercise to fit your needs. Try performing the High Plank and the Low Plank on your knees, instead of suspended in the air. Place one knee on the ground for each of the Side Planks. Remember, you’re your best personal trainer so listen to what your body’s telling you.
Be sure to check out our plank workout roundup for lots of planking workout ideas!
-“The Best Abs Workout: Get Six Pack Abs in Weeks” Women’s Health Magazine
-“Ab Exercises” Fitness Magazine
-“Plank Exercise Benefits” Plank Exercise App
-Photo courtesy of Ambro/freedigitalphotos.net