This isn’t a fashion publication, but if it was, I probably would have titled this post, “5 Reasons Crunches are Sooooo Last Season.” Because while core work is always in style, modern exercise science has taught us that some core exercises are better than others. Not that crunches are necessarily bad—they’re just not as effective as efforts that target a broader range of muscles. Case in point: planks.
But I’m not just talking about your run-of-the-mill front plank. After all, there’s nothing more boring than holding a single position for several seconds—or even minutes—at a time. No, I’m talking about planks of the future—or, at the very least, the present: dynamic planks. As the name suggests, dynamic planks add an element of movement to traditional plank positions—thus upping the strength and stability conditioning ante. Here are four variations to try during your next core session:
1. Single-leg lifts
While holding a standard front plank, lift your leg upward toward the ceiling until you feel a squeeze in your glute muscles. Be sure to keep your leg straight and your toes pointed toward the ground. Then, lower your leg until your toes barely touch the floor and repeat the extension. Try to complete ten repetitions on each side. Then, try adding additional static plank time before and after the dynamic portion (i.e., hold a normal plank for 30 seconds, complete the leg lifts, and hold a normal plank for 30 more seconds).
2. Jumping jacks
From the normal front plank position, quickly “jump” both legs out to the side and back to the middle. Once you can complete ten repetitions, try adding reps or increasing your static hold time.
Get into a normal side plank position, resting your forearm on the floor. Keeping your lower body still, slowly twist your torso toward the ground and push your free hand and arm through the opening between your engaged arm/torso and the ground. Then, slowly twist back to your original position. Perform this sequence ten times on each side, and try to work up to a 30-second static hold before and after the dynamic portion.
From the side plank position, lift your top leg a few inches above your bottom leg, swing it forward, and gently touch your toes to the ground in front of your bottom leg. Then, lift and move your top leg back over your bottom leg and gently touch the ground behind your bottom leg. That’s one repetition; try to do ten on each side. Once you’ve got that down, add static hold time before and after each dynamic set.
The best thing about dynamic core exercises—besides the body-sculpting benefits—is that they can help prevent the injuries that commonly result from sports and other activities. Another great tool in the injury-prevention toolbox? Physical therapy. In fact, a physical therapist can design an individualized strength training program to help ensure you’re never sidelined by injury. Plus, a good PT is always up to speed on the latest evidence-based injury prevention tactics, which means your core exercise routine will always be on the cutting-edge of pre-hab fashion. Want to find a PT in your area? Check out our PT finder tool.