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March 21, 2019

Ready for an extra ab challenge? Try this simple plank variation

Once you try it, you'll never go back to the standard method

Fitness Exercise
plank variation palms up Bruce Mars/Pexels

Planks are pretty much the gold standard when it comes to core workouts — especially since most experts agree that we should avoid sit-ups like the plague

While plank variations can get fancy — with weights, leg lifts, arm raises and all sorts of other feats of core strength — just about everyone has done a good ol’ forearm plank. You know, the one where you hold your back straight, with your belly button pulled in, and palms flat on your mat. You hold that for a few sets of 30 to 60 seconds and you feel great about your ab strength.

A teeny, tiny tweak will make the regular old plank a little more challenging: when in elbow plank, flip your hands over so your palms are facing up.

RELATED READ: What it means to 'engage your core'

The traditional palm-down elbow plank used the back muscles, but turning your palms up forces your core to work harder during the move, health coach Cassandra Bodlak told Popsugar:

“Performing a plank with palms up [will] disengage some of the support from the muscles of the hand and forearm," she says.

"It takes the pronator teres (one of the major forearm muscles) and positions it in what is called the 'anatomical position' (palms forward when standing, palms up when prone in a plank), which is the most desirable position in which to function," Cassandra explains. "We are all busy typing on keyboards these days, encouraging a particular position of the forearm: palms down. Simply repositioning the forearms in your plank helps to create a balance."

Yes, leaving it to your ab muscles to hold you up is more challenging. Palm-up also helps unround your hunched-over shoulders. 

Here's a brief video how-to if you aren't sure how to do a plank, let alone a palms-up plank:


 Or check out Greatist's list of 47 fun plank variations for a "killer core."

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