Plank It ‘Til You Make It!

If you’re in search of an effective full-body tone that won’t interfere with your hectic daily life, look no further than the stupendous plank!

This exercise works both the upper and lower body, sculpting lean muscle – even hard-to-reach “problem regions” – in a super short amount of time. And, for those peeps, who can’t fit a gym membership into their schedule or budget, here’s more incentive: you can literally plank from anywhere, no fancy fitness equipment required!

So, shape on up with these 4 fat-torching variations on the classic plank. And you’ll be good to get on with your day in under 15 minutes.


Two-Point Plank

two-point plank 1

two-point plank 2

  • Areas It Targets: 
  1. Obliques
  2. Abdominals
  3. Glutes
  4. Quadriceps
  5. Hamstrings
  6. Biceps
  7. Triceps
  • How To Do It:
  1. Lower your body into a standard plank position (feet together, legs straightened, back flat and level, elbows locked, and hands shoulder-width apart).
  2. Shift your right leg slightly outward and lift your left leg off the ground until your heel is level with your pelvis.
  3. Tighten your torso and raise your right arm directly in front of you, then hold this position for 10 seconds.
  4. Tuck your navel deeper into your spine for balance, then pull your right elbow to meet your left knee underneath your body (avoid rounding back, lifting pelvis, or twisting spine).
  5. Push your right arm and left leg back outward and away from each other, then return to a standard plank position.
  6. Repeat steps 2-4, with your right leg and left arm.
  7. Do 3 sets of 5 reps, alternating sides.

Side-Twist Plank

side-twist plank 1

side-twist plank 2

  • Areas It Targets:
  1. Obliques
  2. Abdominals
  3. Shoulders
  4. Glutes
  5. Lower Back
  • How To Do It:
  1. Lower your body into a modified side plank position on your right side (right elbow bent and resting on the ground, feet stacked on top of each other, legs straightened, and core tightened).
  2. Support your weight on your right elbow and raise your left arm, bending at the elbow, and anchor your hand behind your head.
  3. Tuck your navel into your spine and rotate your left rib cage toward the ground, pulling your left arm down to meet your right arm.
  4. Hold this position for 5 seconds, then return to a modified side plank position.
  5. Do 3 sets of 5 reps on the right side of your body.
  6. Switch to the left side of your body, then repeat steps 2-4 with your right hand anchored behind your head.
  7. Do 3 sets of 5 reps on the left side of your body.

Reverse Leg-Lift Plank

reverse leg-lift plank

  • Areas It Targets:
  1. Abdominals
  2. Upper Back
  3. Lower Back
  4. Glutes
  5. Quadriceps
  6. Hamstrings
  • How To Do It:
  1. Start in a reverse plank position (hands behind the body, elbows locked, core facing up, legs straightened out in front, feet together, and back tightened).
  2. Keep your body in a straight diagonal line with your hips and glutes pressed as far from the ground as possible.
  3. Support your weight on your hands and lift your right leg with a slow, controlled movement until your foot is level with your chin.
  4. Point your toe and hold this position for 10 seconds, squeezing your quads and core for balance.
  5. Lower your right leg back to the ground and return to a reverse plank position.
  6. Repeat steps 2-5, with your left leg.
  7. Do 3 sets of 5 reps, alternating sides.

Up-Down Plank

up-down plank 1

up-down plank 2

  • Areas It Targets:
  1. Obliques
  2. Abdominals
  3. Upper Back
  4. Shoulders
  5. Biceps
  • How To Do It:
  1. Lower your body into a standard plank position (feet together, legs straightened, back flat and level, elbows locked, and hands shoulder-width apart).
  2. Lower your right elbow to the ground, followed by your left elbow, making sure both arms are parallel, so that you are now in modified plank position.
  3. Hold this position for 5 seconds, then return to a standard plank position (while raising your body, keep core engaged and avoid twisting spine).
  4. Repeat steps 2-3 and do 3 sets of 5 reps, leading with your right elbow.
  5. Switch sides by lowering your left elbow to the ground first, followed by your right elbow.
  6. Repeat steps 2-3 and do 3 sets of 5 reps, leading with your left elbow.

Get a “Leg Up” on Strength Training

So…got those “Thunder Thigh” blues again?

I feel your pain, girlfrand…

This troublesome spot often seems impossible to tone, but – believe it or not – there’s still hope!

By breaking the thigh region down into individual muscle groups and concentrating on each area separately, you’ll finally find success. Good bye, Thunder Thighs. Hello, Mini Skirt Material!

(Oh, and can’t forget about those calves. They deserve a tone-up too, right?)

Just follow my complete leg exercise circuit, and – I guarantee – the results will amaze you:


Adductor Muscles

  • Where they’re located: inner thighs
  • 3 Ways to Work them out…
  1.  Scissor Plank: (1) Lower your body into standard plank position. (2) Make sure that your back is flat, elbows are locked, legs are straightened, and feet are together. (3) While maintaining proper form, jump your legs out, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. (4) Hold this stance for approximately 2 seconds. (5) Tightening your inner thighs, jump the legs back together. (6) Hold this stance for approximately 2 seconds, then repeat. (7) Do 2 sets of 30 repetitions.
  2. Plie Squat: (1) Stand with your legs hip-width apart and knees slightly bent. (2) Turn your feet out approximately 45 degrees. (3) Lift your heels off the ground and balance on the balls of your feet. (4) While keeping your shoulders, back, and hips aligned, bend your legs deeply and lower the body down as far as you can. (5) Hold this stance for approximately 2 seconds. (6) Straighten back up into a standing position, then repeat. (7) Do 2 sets of 30 repetitions.
  3. Ball Squeeze: (1) Lie flat on your back with arms straightened by your sides. (2) Plant your feet firmly on the ground, slightly parted, with knees bent. (3) Place a stability ball (you could also substitute a throw pillow) between your knees. (4) Contracting the inner thighs, squeeze your knees tightly on each side of the ball. (5) Hold this position for approximately 2 seconds. (6) Relax for approximately 2 seconds, then repeat. (7) Do 2 sets of 30 repetitions.

Quadricep Muscles

  • Where they’re located: frontal & outer thighs
  • 3 Ways to Work them out…
  1. Crossover Lunge: (1) Stand upright with your feet together and arms by your sides. (2) While keeping your right leg planted, step the left leg across the right leg. (3) Bend both knees deeply into a lunge. (4) Hold this position for approximately 2 seconds. (5) Straighten and return to a neutral standing position. (6) Repeat this movement on the other side. (7) Do 2 sets of 30 repetitions.
  2. Lateral Leg Lift: (1) Stand upright behind a chair with your feet together and hands gripping the chair’s back. (2) While keeping the rest of your body still, lift the right leg out to the side. (3) Flex your foot and contract both the front and outer thighs. (4) Hold this stance for approximately 2 seconds. (5) Lower your leg and return to a neutral standing position. (6) Repeat this movement on the other side. (7) Do 2 sets of 30 repetitions.
  3. Wall Sit: (1) Stand upright with your back flat against a sturdy wall. (2)  Keep your feet shoulder-width apart and arms by your sides. (3) Slide down the wall until your knees are bent at 90 degree angles. (4) Hold this position for approximately 60 seconds. (5) Straighten and return to a neutral standing position. (6) Relax for approximately 10 seconds, then repeat. (7) Do 2 sets of 1 repetition.      

Hamstring Muscles

  • Where they’re located: posterior thighs
  • 3 Ways to Work them out…
  1. Kick Back: (1) Lower your body into standard plank position. (2) While keeping your elbows locked and back flat, drop knees to the ground. (3) Flex your feet and extend the right leg out behind you, kicking upward. (4) Lower your right leg back to the ground, then repeat this movement with your left leg. (5) Alternate kicking back each leg 30 times as quickly as you can, while maintaining proper form. (6) Relax for approximately 10 seconds. (7) Do 2 sets of 30 repetitions.
  2. Step Up: (1) Stand upright in front of a chair, with the seat facing you. (2) Place your hands on hips and feet slightly less than shoulder-width apart. (3) While keeping your upper body still and core engaged, step upward onto the chair’s seat with your right leg, following with the left leg. (4) Straighten both legs and hold this stance for approximately 2 seconds. (5) Step backward with your left leg down to the ground, following with the right leg. (6) Repeat this movement, alternating between each leg. (7) Do 2 sets of 30 repetitions.
  3. Modified Bridge: (1) Lie flat on your back with arms straightened by your sides. (2) Plant your feet firmly on the ground, slightly parted, with knees bent. (3) Lift your heels and push off the ground with the balls of your feet, raising the hips. (4) Elevate your entire upper body and, continuing to balance on the balls of your feet, tighten the posterior thighs. (5) Hold this stance for approximately 2 seconds, then lower back to the ground. (6) Relax for approximately 2 seconds, then repeat. (7) Do 2 sets of 30 repetitions.

Gastrocnemius & Soleus Muscles

  • Where they’re located: upper & lower calves
  • 3 Ways to Work them out…
  1. Box Jumps: (1) Position yourself in front of an approximately 6″ raised platform (you could use a sturdy box, stool, or crate). (2) Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent. (3) Bend your elbows, clench hands into fists, and tuck arms in tightly at your sides. (4) Lift your heels and, pushing off the ground with the balls of your feet, spring onto the platform. (5) Land on your toes, then jump backward down to the ground. (6) Land on your toes once again, then repeat. (7) Do 2 sets of 15 repetitions.
  2. Single Leg Raises: (1) Stand upright with your feet together and arms by your sides. (2) Balancing on your right leg, bend the left leg and extend it behind you. (3) Raise your right heel off the ground, then lower back down. (4) Repeat this movement 30 times with your right leg. (5) Lower your left leg and return to a neutral standing position. (6) Bend your right leg and extend it behind you, switching the 30 calf raises to your leg left. (7) Do 1 set of 30 repetitions on each side.
  3. Plie Raises: (1) Stand with your legs hip-width apart and knees slightly bent. (2) Turn your feet out approximately 45 degrees. (3) Lift your heels off the ground and balance on the balls of your feet. (4) Lower your body and avoid raising the hips. (5) While keeping your upper body still, pulse up and down, alternating between the heels and toes. (6) Repeat this movement 30 times, then return to a standing position. (7) Do 2 sets of 30 repetitions.