Planks, while often considered an ab exercise, actually work your entire body—including the all-important core, or, “the system of muscles that stabilize, align, and move the trunk of the body,” Lee Wratislaw, manager of digital programming at Gold’s Gym, previously told Well + Good. Your abdominals are only part of your core, which actually contains around fourteen (!!) muscles that are essential for posture, flexibility, and balance. Building a strong core can improve the way you move, rest, and do everything in between and one of the best ways to work it is the “spider plank”.
In addition to the core, spider planks also work your arms and glutes, both of which become activated when you’re holding plank pose and bringing the knee to the chest. One of our favorite trainers, Charlee Atkins, loves planks for all of the reasons listed above. In fact, Atkins incorporates spider planks into virtually every workout. The spider plank isn’t as scary as it sounds, but it will leave your entire body quaking after a few rounds. You’ll notice the move is rooted in the traditional plank position, and you march your feet and hold them into the body (almost like a mountain climber).
Whether you’re looking to shake up the plain-old plank or you’re building a strong core from scratch, Atkins’s signature spider plank is sure to leave you feeling satisfied and strong. Here’s how to try.
How to do the spider plank
1. Start in plank position, ensuring your body is in a straight line from the head all the way to the heels
2. Lift one leg and bend your knee (similar to a fire hydrant), as you bring your knee toward your armpit. This should all be on the same side of your body; don’t let your body rotate!
3. Bring your leg back into plank position.
4. Repeat steps two to three with the opposite leg.
5. Continue to alternate legs.
In Atkins’s workout, the spider planks are part of a Tabata set, wherein you cycle through eight rounds of 20 seconds of work, followed by 10 seconds of rest. You’ll see Atkins demonstrate the move in the third circuit. Whether you’re adding to a Tabata workout or looking for a one-and-done move, spider planks are a solid way to fire up the whole body, and when done regularly can help you to gain strength all over.
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