Strengthen Your Whole Body at Home with 4 Easy Exercises

Health & Wellness on 11.03.12
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Photo Credit: Port of San Diego/ Creative Commons

The abdomen truly is the core of the body. Planks are an essential way to strengthen your core, and they also can help tone up the rest of your body. Planks can easily be done at home, even while playing on the floor with your kids. They don't require any special equipment or clothing. Once you feel confident performing a basic plank, there are a few things you can switch to keep it challenging. After a few short weeks, you’ll have a tighter core and notice you are stronger all over.

Side Plank

Photo Credit: Todd Bernstein

Balance your plank on one forearm and your feet. Keep your hips high and feel your side, closest to the ground, tighten. You should feel the muscles engage right above your hip. Push through your elbow into the floor for stability and to engage your shoulders and back. Your feet can either be on top of each other or one in front of the other (which is slightly easier).

Plank Leg Lifts

Photo Credit: Todd Bernstein

In a strong plank position, keep your hips level as you stretch one leg off the ground behind you. Focus on keeping the leg long and the hips at the same height, rather than trying to get the leg higher than your thigh. Alternate between each leg, while maintaining a contracted abdomen.

Plank Leg and Arm Raise Balance

Photo Credit: Todd Bernstein

Once you’ve mastered the Plank Leg Lift above, take it to the next level by adding an arm raise too. Lift one leg and the opposite arm at the same time. The arm should stay in line with the height of your shoulder. Focus on reaching your arm long rather than high.

One-Arm Plank

Photo Credit: Todd Bernstein

Turn your plank into a great arm workout, by balancing on one arm. Get into a strong plank and drive one hand into the ground so it supports most of your body weight. Slowly lift the other arm off the ground. You can wrap it around your torso and feel the muscles working hard to keep you up.

Experiment with each of movement by holding the position for 15- 60 seconds. Repeat each exercise 3 times. If you’re short on time, just pick one or two of the plank variations. Spend as few as 3 minutes each day to get a solid core workout that will strengthen your arm, back and legs along the way.

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