The Abdominal Plank is one of the most effective and simple abdominal exercises you can do.
If you’re not familiar with the Plank, your basically hold your body in a stiff, horizontal position on your forearms and toes (on the floor), maintaining a straight body position for as long as possible. It’s a great exercise you can do anywhere.
THIS exercise is a version of the plan where instead of holding your body in the horizontal position, using some small changes, you’ll instead be holding it an angle.
This change in angle and body position shifts the tension to the lower abs and can be very effective for tightening the lower abdominal area, especially if you’re looking for that sexy “V” look down through the obliques (once you get your bodyfat low enough, of course).
This exercise could also help get rid of that “pooch belly” bulge by tightening up the specific muscles that control that area of the abs…when these fibers don’t have “tone” (in this case lack of tone means they relax too much, not other “tone” that just means training with light weights and getting zero results ;)…
…so as I said when these fibers don’t have tone, they just let the internal organs push outward, causing that bulge, even if your bodyfat is low. This exercise can help correct that.
I’ve got it set up in the rails of a power rack, but you can very easily do it between two benches if you don’t have a rack to work with (or a bench for your forearms and something else a few feet off the ground to hook your feet over – you’ll see what I mean).
So to do this one in the rack, set your rails a few feet off the ground, then stand facing one side. Set your forearms (near the elbow) on the rail then hook your feet on the other rail. Now just hold your body in that position, keeping your body just a bit bent (not completely straight like the floor version…because your knees are lower, you need to keep some bend in your hips to keep pressure off the lower back) and stable as you can.
Here’s the view from the other side.
It’s easier to see the bend in the hips from this view. Keeping the hips bent is really important…if you straighten the body, you’ll immediately get a lot of stress onto the lower back.
Once again, though, nice exercise for targeting the lower abdominal area and you can do it on benches or really anything else you can set your forearms and feet on. Hold the position for as long as you can, staying short of complete failure and strive to increase the hold time in your next workout.
You can do this exercise first in your abdominal routine, which I usually recommend doing after the rest of your training is completed. I wouldn’t do it first in your workout, though, as it will temporarily weaken the area. Which means if you do this exercise then a set of heavy squats, your squats will suffer.
That being said, if you’re doing a cardio training session, you can do it before or after cardio, since that doesn’t require the same level of stabilization in the core.