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The Simplest Core Exercise Everyone Should Be Doing

Elbow Plank vs. Full Plank

Showdown: Elbow Planks vs. Traditional Planks

A core classic, planks target and tone the entire body in one move. While there are several variations, the traditional plank and the elbow plank are go-to favorites — after all, you can do them anywhere! But what exactly is the difference between the two? Seeking the answer to this frequently asked question, we turned to Lauren Fairbanks, a personal trainer at Equinox.

The Traditional Plank

The mother of all planks, the traditional plank is the basic starting position for all other variations. While it is not as challenging as the elbow plank, it is a great option for beginners or those looking to perfect their form. In addition to your core, the high plank also uses your body weight to sculpt your shoulders and arms. Lauren suggests using the traditional plank as your base for more-challenging moves like shoulder taps or torso rotations because there is "more freedom to do different progressions" in this position.

The Elbow Plank

If you're looking to increase the burn, consider the elbow plank. Compared to the traditional plank, Lauren says that the elbow plank offers more of a challenge because it "recruits more of your core muscles to do the work." To maximize this move, be sure your shoulders are stacked over your elbows and your body is in one straight line. You can even combine the elbow plank and the traditional plank by trying the up-down plank!

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The Takeaway . . .

When choosing an ab exercise, you really can't go wrong with planks. They are a functional movement that "train the abs in a way that supports the spine for day-to-day activities," says Lauren. Don't be afraid to experiment with several variations that will have you well on your way to flat abs in no time! Lauren suggests you hold your plank until you break proper form, aiming for a one-minute hold. Essentially, you can personalize planks to your goals and your body. Let us know how it goes!

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