I am a huge fan of the plank! It is a great exercise, with too many benefits to list... but I'll hit a few:
- It causes your whole core to fire i.e. engage i.e. work
- It strengthens your low back
- It engages practically every muscle in your body (calves, shoulders, the works)
- It helps with posture
- It helps with balance
- It puts little stress on your joints (comparatively)
Is that not enough to get you to start planking?
But I get it, holding a plank and staring at your phone timer can be boring. So switch it up! You don't need to hold a forearm plank every time, in fact trying something new is actually better. By shocking your body and trying a new plank variation, you'll see more change more quickly.
I challenge you to pick 4 of these variations, and do 4 minutes of planks. Hold each variation for a minute with a 30 second - 1 minute rest in between. Your core will be burning, 4 planks are more fun than 1 type for four rounds, and you'll look like a boss.
Pro Tip: keep your neck in neutral! I.e. your spine should be a straight line, so don't look up/forward, or keep your gaze at your toes. Stare at the gross gym mat under your hands and thank about how it probably needs to lay in a bath of disinfectant. Also, keep your butt down to keep your spine in a straight line and engage your core.
IF YOU REMEMBER NOTHING ELSE ABOUT PLANKS REMEMBER THIS ^^^
Pro Tip: widen your stance for a one arm plank and elbows on ball! As you get better and stronger, you can bring your feet closer and closer. If you start too close you won't be able to hold it long.
Make It Harder: a lot of these variations can be combined! Do a one legged plank on a bosu, switch between forearm and straight arm for the variations, etc.
Make It Harder: on the forearms on the ball, once your good at it, find a buddy. Then have that buddy gentle toe tap/kick the ball as they face you. The instability they'll create will force your body to use your core to stay stable.
Make It Harder: "march" aka pick one foot up at a time while you're holding any of these variations.
P.S. I have never looked that graceful getting onto the ball to hold the last two variations. It takes practice, luck, and the ability to laugh at yourself when you fall over.