The Best Ab Exercise You’re Probably Not Doing

It’s no secret that planks are one of the best ab exercises you can do. That’s because they’re not just an ab exercise. They strengthen all the muscles of the core, including the glutes and lower back (yes, those are also a part of your core!).

Did you know that there’s a way to kick planks up a notch and see more benefits from them? And, no, it doesn’t involve holding them for several minutes at a time.

A Twist on a Classic Ab Exercise

One of the best ab exercises you can add to your routine — assuming you’re comfortable with a standard forearm plank — is an active plank.

When you do an active plank, you perform reps, like you would with other ab exercises like crunches. You slightly relax and then contract your abdominal muscles, which causes them to work harder and allows you to see better results.

How to Do it

To do an active plank correctly, start in a basic forearm plank. Then, while keeping your abs engaged, lower your hips down toward the floor. After lowering your hips, engage your abs and lift them back up, rounding your lower back slightly and engaging your glutes to make sure all your muscles are working.

You should feel this in your abs almost immediately. If you don’t, make sure you’re really exaggerating the lift, contracting the glutes, and pulling your abdominals in. It’s okay to round a little bit — it’s especially preferable to having too much of an arch in your lower back.

Here’s a video so you can see how it’s done:

Have you ever done active planks before? If not, give them a try and let me know what you think!

Not ready for an active plank yet? Check out this post for a basic plank breakdown, or this post to learn some beginner-friendly plank progressions to try instead!

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