ELBOW PLANKS ARE old news.
Yes, this go-to exercise is one of the simplest, most reliable ways to introduce bracing — an essential function of your core muscles—into your training plan, but once you've held a standard plank a few times, you might start to wonder what else is out there that feels more engaging and exciting. This might sound odd, but one of the best ways to level up your plank is to embrace your inner beast and introduce an exercise called the bear plank.
Rather than resting on your elbows, you'll be up on all-fours like a bear. But that doesn't mean your core can quit; you'll have to keep bracing hard to stay in proper position, which becomes even more of a challenge (and even more engaging) when you add in other aspects like shoulder taps, movement, and more.
Thankfully, you can level up your ab workout with these bear plank variations from trainer Ben Feiden.
Bear Plank Shoulder Taps
2 to 3 sets of 40 seconds
Stack your wrists directly under the shoulders and your knees below your hips (this will be the starting point for each bear plank variation, according to Feiden). Lift one hand off the floor, then tap your opposite shoulder. The challenge is to brace your core to keep your hips and shoulders square in the unbalanced position.
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2 to 3 sets of 30 seconds
Now, you'll introduce instability with your lower body "legs of the table," by lifting your legs. Start by reaching your arms straight out, one at a time, then lift each leg, squeezing your glutes for a smooth movement. Continue bracing your core to stay balanced.
2 to 3 sets of 6 to 8 reps per side
Shift your focus from bear to dog with this final variation, which requires even more coordination. Raise your right arm and left leg up simultaneously, pause for a beat and squeeze your abs, then lower back down. Repeat with the opposite limbs. For more guidance on this sneaky tough exercise, check out this guide.
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