The plank has become an easy, post-workout prescription usually performed by guys who are more concerned with setting the Guinness World Record for time, regardless of how sloppy their form gets. Which is sad, because when properly executed, the plank is the end-all for full-body stability and better posture. Also, it’ll help you chisel out a great set of abs. Here, we outline how to perform the perfect plank, then offer four variations to take it up a notch. Think your abs can handle it?

The traditional plank (pictured above) is the OG plank. Perform it for better core stability and improved posture, as you’re forced to keep your shoulder blades back and your hips straight.

 How to Do a Traditional Plank:
  • Get into a pushup position—either on your hands or forearms—and then tighten your core. Your feet should be shoulder width or narrower, and your back and hips should be in one straight line.
  • Tense every muscle in your body.
  • Perform for 3 sets of 20 seconds. It should be a very hard 20 seconds.

How to Program Plank Varieties:

The plank can be performed any time during your workout. Do it before a lift to heat up and activate your shoulder, glute, and core muscles. Or work it in as a finisher to really smoke the system and target your abs. Some of the following variations can even be incorporated in the middle of your workout, either as straight sets or as part of a circuit. Click through to check them out.

1. Plank Banded Adduction

This move complements the banded abduction (Slide 4) quite well. Also, it’s a core blaster that’ll target and strengthen the groin area.

How to Do It: 

  • Loop a band around a stationary object and put one leg through the band loop.
  • Set up in a plank so that the banded leg is closer to the anchor location.
  • Slightly lift the banded leg off the ground, open your legs, and guide the banded leg toward the anchor.
  • When you reach your maximum range of motion, drive your banded leg back toward your body and squeeze it against your grounded leg.
  • Repeat for 3 sets of 10 reps for each leg.
2. Plank Plate Pull-through

This advanced variation of the plank challenges your stability on another level as you pull a small plate across and underneath your body. As a bonus, your shoulders will get a pump.

How to Do It: 

  • Start in a normal plank position, with a plate on one side of your body.
  • Brace your core and then reach under­ neath yourself with the arm opposite the side the plate is on.
  • Grab it and then pull it through.
  • Repeat for 3 sets of 10 reps on each side.
3. Plank Banded Row

This plank combo challenges your bal­ ance and helps develop your lats and biceps as you pump them up with each rep.

How to Do It: 

  • In a plank, about a foot away from a band looped to a power rack, drive your elbow down toward your rib cage, squeezing your lat.
  • Slowly extend arm back out.
  • Do 3 sets of 10 reps for each arm.
4. Plank Banded Abduction

This variation adds a rotational element to the traditional plank hold, which is great for lower­body prehab work, glute develop­ ment, and knee stability.

How to Do It:

  • Loop a band around a stationary object. Before you get set in your plank position, step one leg through the loop, just below the knee.
  • Drive the banded knee out wide, using the glute to squeeze it at the top.
  • Repeat for 3 sets of 10 reps for each leg.