Fitness

8 'Planks' of workout success

A personal trainer showing his trainee the high plank start position for bicep curls. PHOTO: ISTOCKPHOTO
A personal trainer showing his trainee the high plank start position for bicep curls. PHOTO: ISTOCKPHOTO

Have a go at these eight full-body exercises that you can do in a plank pose, for a time-and space-efficient workout

The plank is a universal exercise because it works the entire body, even though it is a static move.

It can be done anywhere without any equipment and anyone can benefit from it.

To get a full body workout from this pose, try these eight exercises that start in a plank pose.

Do each exercise 20 times and repeat the circuit thrice.

PUSH-UPS

Start in high plank pose. Keep your body straight and lower your body by bending your elbows. Try to place a fist-sized object below your chest so you bring your body low enough.

Scale it down: Beginners can start with their knees on the ground for added support.

Scale it up: Lean your body forward so your shoulders are over your wrists. Keep your elbows close to your body as you lower yourself. This will transfer most of the weight to your shoulders.

PLANK TO DOWNWARD DOG

Start in high plank pose. Keeping your body straight and your core active, lift your hips and push back into a downward dog pose. You can bend your knees slightly if you have tight hamstrings.

Scale it down: Start in a plank pose with your hips slightly higher to reduce the range of motion.

Scale it up: Again, move your upper body over your wrists to send the weight to your shoulders. The shape should resemble a pike pose. It is important to engage your fingers and forearms to protect your wrists.

HIGH PLANK TO LOW PLANK

Start in high plank pose. Without moving your hips, softly drop your right elbow to the ground in forearm plank pose. Drop the left elbow. Get back up with your right hand, then your left. Repeat on other side.

Scale it down: Like the above modifications for plank poses, you can choose to lower your knees.

PLANK STAR JUMPS

Start in high plank pose. Grip the floor with your fingers and be aware of your ab engagement. Staying as straight as you can, jump your feet out like you are doing a star jump, about half a metre's distance. Jump back in to plank pose.

INCHWORMS

Start in high plank pose. Using your core, slowly walk your hands closer to your feet. Keep your legs as straight as you can to prevent losing core engagement. Once you reach your feet, bend your knees slightly. Slowly walk back to plank pose with your hands.

Scale it down: If you find it too difficult to support your weight with your hands, you can place your knees on the ground when you are coming up.

Scale it up: To increase difficulty and add some cardio to this move, do a jump when you come up to standing position.

SHOULDER TAPS

Start in high plank pose. Use your core to stabilise your body. Do not pivot from your hips as you lift your right palm to touch your left shoulder. Return to starting position and touch your left palm to your right shoulder. Return to plank pose.

Scale it down: Spread your feet farther apart to balance and distribute your weight better.

Scale it up: Keep your feet together or do the shoulder taps in forearm plank position.

LEG LIFTS

Start in high plank pose. Do not arch or collapse your back as you squeeze your core, butt and legs to lift your right leg up as high as you can. Try to keep your foot flexed and your legs straight. Lower your right leg and repeat on other side.

Scale it down: Place your feet farther apart to help you balance.

Scale it up: Lift your leg higher and hold it at the top for a breath before lowering.

BICEP CURLS

Start in high plank pose with dumbbells in each hand. Make sure your surface has enough traction so you will not slip or slide around. Push your weight to your left hand as you lift your right palm off the floor. Turn your wrists so your palms face forward and curl the dumbbell up. Keep your core engaged and your right elbow close to your body.

Scale it down: Go with a lighter weight or a wider stance.

• This article first appeared on www.shape.com.sg, Singapore's leading fitness and wellness site for women

• For videos of the exercises: https://tinyurl.com/yxwonza6

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 28, 2019, with the headline '8 'Planks' of workout success'. Print Edition | Subscribe