8. Side plank
The side plank has a distinct training effect than the conventional plank in that it puts a lot of tension on the quadratus lumborum, which is a part of the posterior abdominals. Don’t be scared off by the Latin name; activating this little, underutilised muscle can help you avoid a lot of lower back pain. To do the move, lie on your side with one forearm right below your shoulder and raise your hips until your entire body is in a straight line from head to toes.
9. Star side plank
This is a more difficult form of the side plank that improves the quadratus lumborum’s strength. Twist your body to raise one arm until it’s aiming at the ceiling, then lift your upper leg as well, starting in an elevated plank posture with hands under your shoulders and arms extended. All four limbs will be stretched at this point, forming a star shape. At the very least, it’s shaped like a star. For a somewhat easier form of the exercise, complete the star side plank while supporting yourself on your forearm, as you would with a standard side plank.
10. STANDARD PLANK
If you’re new to planks (or just haven’t done them in a while), chances are you’ll start to shake when you get tired. But don’t let that intimidate you! Keep holding until you can’t hold your hips up anymore. When they start to drop, stop. Do three sets, holding as long as you can each time. When you can hold it for more than one minute, it’s time to move on to something more difficult. HOW TO DO IT: Get down on the floor and put your elbows and forearms on a comfortable surface. Create a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles. Hold this position without moving
11. REACHING PLANK
Mix up the standard plank to make things more difficult. This version requires more core stabilization because you’ll be moving your arms. Once you can do at least 10 reps with each arm, move on to a more advanced variation. HOW TO DO IT: Start in a plank, then slowly reach one arm forward until your elbow is straight. Pause for one second, and then pull that arm back and plant your elbow so that you’re in the basic plank again. Alternate arms with each rep, and do as many reps as possible on each side
12. BIRD-DOG PLANK
Unlike the reaching plank, with this variation you’re trying to balance on one arm and one leg for as long as possible. This is a very challenging exercise, because you’ll need lots of balance and strong arms and legs to hold yourself up. HOW TO DO IT: Start in a standard plank. Reach your right arm forward until your elbow is straight. Now lift your left leg off the ground, keeping your knee straight. Hold this position as long as you can, and then switch sides (left arm reaches forward and right leg goes up
13. PLANK WALK-DOWN
Incorporate your upper body with this variation. Bonus: This version can help you learn how to do a proper push-up. HOW TO DO IT: Start in push-up position and lower one elbow/forearm to the ground. Then move the other hand down so that both forearms are flat on the ground. Pause, and then take the arm that went down first and plant that hand on the mat. Push yourself up on that side. Then take the other arm, plant your hand and push yourself back up to the top position of a push-up. On the next rep, switch the arm that goes down first. Do five reps going down with the right arm first and five reps going down with the left arm first
14. PLANK KETTLEBELL SLIDE
The real challenge of this variation comes from holding yourself in a plank using only one arm. HOW TO DO IT: Grab a relatively light kettlebell and set it next to you. Get into a plank with the kettlebell on the outside of your left elbow. Reach your right hand behind your left elbow to grab the kettlebell. Drag the kettlebell all the way across your mat and place it outside of your right elbow. Place your right elbow down on the mat. Repeat with the left hand
15. BODY SAW PLANK