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Plank Your Way To Better Abs With These 5 Variations

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Ab Plank

The traditional ab plank is one of the all-around best ab exercises for developing a svelte midsection, a strong core, and superior posture. Unlike crunches, sit-ups, cable woodchoppers, ab v holds, hanging leg raises and the like, which primarily work the rectus abdominis (the vertical “six-pack” muscles) and obliques, planks blast the transverse abdominis.

Diagram below.

Anatomy of the Abs, abs anatomy, transverse abdominis

Anatomy of the Abs

The transverse abdominis (TA), aka the “inner abs,”  is the deepest abdominal layer and runs as a belt horizontally around the midsection in between the hip bone and ribs. Unlike the biceps, chest, rectus abdominis, etc., the TA muscle is invisible from the outside.

Aesthetically, a strong TA won’t produce the abdominal crevices, caverns, and undulations characteristic of a six-pack, per se, but rather it sucks the midsection into a tight, compact, slender package. It’s essentially the body’s corset — a strong TA naturally compresses the girth of the stomach.

Transverse Abdominis

Want flat abs like this? Plank it up!

This is critically important. In isolation, a well-developed RA and obliques create six-pack striations and definition, but they’ll also appear bloated, loose, and bulging; strengthening the TA compresses the region and completes the holistic look. Ab planks are the most effective, most direct way to tear up the TA.

If you’re someone who DOESN’T like the “six-pack” look and the block-esque abs that go with it, and simply want a flat, defined stomach (like the one on the right), the TA absolutely should be your primary point of emphasis.

In the spirit of shredding up the transverse abominis, here are 5 variations of the traditional plank that can provide variety, pump up the difficulty, and infuse new stimuli to produce a washboard caliber stomach. Add them individually into your existing ab workout routine, or combine all 5 to create one über ab-flattening plank circuit.


Plank Your Way To Better Abs With These 5 Variations


Ab Plank 1: One Arm Ab Plank Reaches

One Arm Ab Plank Reaches, ab plank arm raise, ab plank with arm raise

How To:

Start in traditional plank position. Raise your right arm and reach out as far as possible in front of your body. Hold 15 seconds and repeat for your left arm. Complete 3 reps, per arm, per set (45 seconds per arm in total).

Up the difficulty, up your growth: Lift your opposite leg simultaneously as you reach out in front.

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Bryan DiSanto

Founder & Editor-in-Chief at Lean It UP
ELLO ELLO I'm Bryan DiSanto. I'm the Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Lean It UP, a CPT/CSN/Fitness Coach, Chef trained at Le Cordon Bleu – Paris, NYU graduate, ex-fat kid, and all-around fitness junkie.

I also contribute to Men's Health Magazine.

When I'm not working on my abs (or somebody else’s), whipping up avocado roses and avocado toast, or running a Tough Mudder, I'm probably yelling at a Carolina Panthers game somewhere.

Come be friends with me on Instagram (@BRYDISANTO) & Snapchat (BRYDISANTO).
Bryan DiSanto
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