Movement is an integral part of exercise, whether you're flowing through Vinyasa or running a 5K. But some of the most challenging exercises involve practically no movement at all. Case in point: the plank.
A plank is what's called an isometric exercise, and it gets harder (and more effective) the longer you keep your body steady and the less you shift about. At first, you may only be able to hold the position for 30 seconds at a time, but the more you do it and the stronger your core muscles get, you can work your way up to a 60-second plank.
With barely any breaks between exercises, this 10-minute Pilates core workout might become the longest plank you've ever held. Led by Amy Jordan, founder of Wundabar Pilates, this series will strengthen and lengthen your abs, helping improve your core stability. You can perform this equipment-free sequence on its own or after any other workout, like a sweaty sprint session or boxing class.
"This is a great way to engage your core and condition your body to function better in any exercise you choose to do," Jordan says.
Grab a mat (or a large towel) for cushion and keep some water nearby — you won't be moving much, but don't be surprised if you break a sweat.
You'll work through 10 ab-igniting movements for about a minute (or less) each, finishing with a relaxing Cat-Cow stretch for a quick core cooldown.
Although Jordan doesn't rest as she moves from one exercise to the next, remember it's totally OK to hit pause as needed.
- Plank: Lengthen and the whole time, Jordan says. "We can feel the heat burning up already."
- Side Plank With Flexion (Left): Think about the top ribs fanning open as you inhale. The goal here — like in many Pilates movements — is to lengthen.
- Hinge Plank: "We want to create a beautiful diagonal from your knees, up through the hips, shoulders and through the crown of the head," Jordan says.
- Reverse Plank With Step Out: Keep the neck long and hips stable to help engage the deep abdominals.
- Side Plank With Flexion (Right): "We don't want to hang into that [shoulder] joint, that's really not so great for the body," Jordan explains. In a side plank, you want to avoid bearing all of your weight on your shoulder and think about engaging the other muscles in your body, including your obliques, quads and glutes to keep your body lifted and create length.
- Downhill Ski Jump: Hold the pelvis steady and maintain the length in your core as you rotate and extend your legs.
- Forearm Plank With Knee Taps: "Really reach the heel long from the sitting bone, and reach the crown of your head long from your tailbone," she says.
- Mini Wundatwist (Left): Jordan says this move is one of her favorites for sculpting abs. This move is similar to a plank pike because you slightly rotate your pelvis up while your shoulders remain square.
- Plank: Keep your collarbones wide as you hold the position.
- Mini Wundatwist (Right): Swivel the pelvis in the opposite direction and pike up and back with length.
- Cat-Cow Stretch: As you exhale, draw your belly button into your spine. As you inhale, open your chest.
Congratulate yourself once the workout is complete, Jordan says. "You've finished the plank party!" The best way to celebrate? Taking time to cool down properly.