The front plank – sometimes called the low plank – is the ultimate core strength exercise. It’s big benefit is that it works both the back and front core muscles simultaneously.
This exercise also has the advantage that it’s time-based so you can measure how well you are doing – and see your improvement.
For a complete core workout, however, you do also need to exercise your transverse core muscles – see the side plank we covered in issue 47.
How to front plank
Start: There are two ways of getting into the plank position (see picture). The first option is to lie face-down on the floor with you elbows underneath shoulders and your arms out to the front, then lift yourself into position.
The second way is to adopt a press-up position, then take one elbow down at a time until you are in low plank. This activates your core muscles more gradually and it may be gentler on your back. Whichever approach you chose, you can either have your fists clenched, thumbs up (as shown), or palms flat to the ground – you may find the latter more comfortable on your elbows.
The exercise: Your objective should be to do three sets of 60-second planks three times a week. Start small with two sets of 20 seconds (or longer if this is easy). Increase to three sets then gradually increase the time.