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Strength training: hold plank for longer with these 3 core-strengthening moves

Posted by for Strong Women

Looking to up the ante of your core strength training? Fitness trainer Emma Obayuvana demonstrates how to build ab muscles with these 3 core-strengthening exercises – so you can hold plank for even longer.

We have to admit that training abs isn’t exactly our favourite exercise day, even though we know how important core strength is for supporting our other workouts too. Core exercises train the muscles in your pelvis, lower back, hips and abdomen to work in harmony, leading to better balance, stability and of course, strength.

Of course, we’d all love to hit a PB for holding plank (the Guinness World Record stands at 8 hours, 15 minutes and 15 seconds by the way – yes, our core is screaming at the thought too) but perfecting this stance will also help you to master other exercises that move into this position, such as press-ups or a vinyasa flow.

Practice these three variations to build up your core muscles so you can work your way up to holding plank for longer (but maybe not as long as this guy).

HIGH PLANK

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Ab workout: Strong Women ambassador Emma Obayuvana demonstrates high plank
  1. Lie on your stomach with palms resting on the ground, elbows by your ribs and toes tucked under. 
  2. Lift yourself up until arms are straight and you’re on your toes, so that your body is one straight line that is parallel to the floor. Make sure that your bum isn’t sticking up too high in the air and that your shoulders and back aren’t collapsing. It will help brace your core by sucking your belly button in. This prevents your lower back from collapsing and will keep ab muscles engaged. 
  3. Keep your glutes and thigh muscles tight as you hold.

    Hold for 60 seconds

SIDE PLANK

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Ab workout: Strong Women ambassador Emma Obayuvana demonstrates side plank
  1. Lying on your side, stagger your feet so one foot is slightly in front of the other. 
  2. Place your right palm onto the floor underneath your shoulder – distributing weight evenly between all of your fingers. 
  3. Push up into a side plank until your arm is straight. For the most advanced variation, stack one foot on top of the other. Alternatively, you can bend the bottom leg so the knee rests on the floor while keeping the top leg straight and off of the ground. 
  4. Your other hand can either rest on your hips or reach up toward the ceiling. 
  5. As you hold, actively lift your obliques towards the ceiling, making sure that your chest is open and shoulders are back.

    Hold for 60 seconds each side

HIGH PLANK TOE TAPS

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Ab workout: Strong Women ambassador Emma Obayuvana demonstrates high plank toe taps
  1. Come into a high plank with your hands under your shoulders, elbows tucked in, abs engaged and bum down. 
  2. Stabilising through the core, lift the right leg off the ground and take it out wide to the right hand side – tapping the toe to the floor and returning to the plank. You should only be moving through the leg, so keep the core and hips tight and still. 

    Alternate tapping toes on both feet for 60 seconds. Stop here or work your way up to completing three rounds of the entire routine. 

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Chloe Gray

Chloe Gray is the senior writer for stylist.co.uk's fitness brand Strong Women. When she's not writing or lifting weights, she's most likely found practicing handstands, sipping a gin and tonic or eating peanut butter straight out of the jar (not all at the same time).

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