Spoiler alert: There is no fast track to a six-pack or muscle definition in your midsection. But fear not, that’s not to say you should cross it off your list of fitness goals at together. On the contrary, it just means you have to set a high bar for yourself á la Halle Berry and be smart and consistent with your approach, starting with knowing the best abs exercises. One more move I’d recommend adding to your arsenal of abs moves? The banded bear plank.
This variation on a standard high plank engages all the body’s major muscle groups, by it’s great at really getting into those hard-to-engage lower abs. This quadruped exercise (which is a fancy way of saying that you perform the move from an all fours position starting on the floor) will test your balance and core stabilization too.
For all of these reasons and more below, you definitely want to add it to workout routine. As a certified personal trainer, I’m here to help you master this move once and for all. Here’s everything you need to know about bear planks including how to, benefits, form tips and more.
How To Do A Banded Bear Plank
- Place a resistance band loop around legs just above knees and begin on hands and knees, in table top position, with wrists under shoulders and knees under hips, back flat and band taught.
- Push palms into floor, engage abs, and lift knees to hover off the floor, bringing hips level with shoulders, keeping tension on band the entire time.
- Hold this position for 30 to 60 seconds.
- Bring knees back down to the floor to return to start. Rest for 10 seconds and repeat.
Form tips: The more level the back, the more the your core will be engaged. Don’t shift hips back toward heels (almost like child’s pose in yoga) or stick them in the air like you would for downward dog.
Reps/sets for best results: 2-3 sets with 30-60 second hold.
Benefits Of Banded Bear Plank
This move targets your core, glutes, quads, and shoulders. It will help you master your core stabilization, which will increase your endurance, or ability to hold moves that challenge your core longer without collapsing in your lower back or breaking form.
It’s also great as an activation exercise prior to lifting heavier weights or before running and cycling because it engages your entire body and makes sure your core is active and engaged.
Variations Of The Bear Plank
- Add a donkey kickback: If you want to take your bear plank up a notch and turn it into an abs and butt exercise, add a donkey kick to it. Start in the same position as a regular bear plank, but at the top, instead of holding for time, lift one leg into the air (maintaining its 90-degree shape) until knee comes in line with hip. Then, reverse the movement to return knee to hover and continue repeating this motion until time runs out. You’ll alternate sides with every set.
- Pull opposite arm to knee and extend: Want more of a challenge? This variation is similar to a bird dog. Start in bear plank and then extend left arm straight in front of body and right leg straight behind to form a line from left hand to right foot. Reverse to return to bear plank position and continue repeating this motion until time expires. Switch sides with every set. When you take away a point of contact (i.e. lifting one arm or leg), your core, hip, and shoulder stabilizers have to work even harder to keep proper form which means even more work in your abs.
How To Add The Banded Bear Plank To Your Workout
- Make it part of your warm-up: This move will fire up multiple muscles groups used for a variety of exercises. Running? Quads and core will be turned on. Lifting weights? Shoulders and trunk will be ready to go. It’s always wise to prep the muscles you are about to recruit prior to performing the main activity.
- Add it to your circuit training: This exercise is great to throw in between weighted or cardio moves as it reconnects you with your core and stabilizers.
- Use as active recovery when strength training: When lifting weights, it can be easy to burnout the muscles you are training and lose proper form if your stabilizers turn off. Throwing this move in as active recovery, during your rest interval in between sets of total-body movements, keeps the shoulders, core, glutes, and quads actively engaged without fatiguing them prior to the next set.
This article was originally published on www.womenshealthmag.com