If You Really Want to Activate Your Core, a Trainer Says You Need to Try This Plank Variation

We've tried our fair share of plank variations, but it turns out that one of the hardest might have been right in front of us the whole time. The hardstyle plank looks just like a traditional elbow plank, but when done correctly, it should feel several times more difficult. "As opposed to the traditional plank that can be held for very long periods of time, this version can only be held for 10 to 30 seconds," said Lisa Reed, MS, CSCS, owner of Lisa Reed Fitness.

Basically, you take the elbow plank and engage almost every muscle you can: brace your abs hard, squeeze your glutes together, tighten your quadriceps. "Nothing below the shoulders should be relaxed," Lisa told POPSUGAR. This results in a huge amount of tension when done correctly, which is why you can't hold the position as long as you might be used to. "It's more about form and function and less about how long you can hold the plank," Lisa said.

The point of the hardstyle plank is to intensely and effectively activate your core, Lisa said, which has multiple benefits beyond just strengthening your muscles. Activating your core, especially before a workout, will help you maintain proper form and avoid injury. Moves like this plank function to "turn on" these crucial core muscles and pay dividends throughout your workout, helping you keep your abs strong and engaged through every move. Keep reading to see exactly how to do a hardstyle plank.

How to Do a Hardstyle Plank
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How to Do a Hardstyle Plank

  • Get into an elbow plank position, with your elbows directly under your shoulders.
  • Face the palms of your hands inwards with fists clenched. Keep your feet together.
  • Brace your abs as though expecting a punch in the stomach.
  • Squeeze your glutes like you're pinching a coin between them. Tighten your quads as though pulling up your kneecaps.
  • Once in the position, you can ask a friend to try to nudge you in different directions to test your tension and stability.
  • Hold for 10 to 30 seconds, remembering to breathe and keep your muscles engaged the whole time.

To make this plank into a quick core workout, Lisa recommended holding the plank for 10 seconds, then resting for five. Repeat for six rounds.