A plank is already a great total-body move, but you can make planking exercises even more challenging by adding props to your workout. And you don't need anything fancy: A small weight will do the trick. Keeping it light ensures you won't strain your shoulders and can maintain proper form.
My rule when adding a prop to your workout routine is to start slow and make sure that you use it effectively, and that you aren’t using it as a crutch. In this planking workout, I'll show you how to use a toning ball to challenge your balance and stability as well as work your whole body right down to the core!
For each exercise, aim for 8 reps on each side and control your movement with a 3-count on the way down and 3-count on the way up. The exercises are meant to flow from one to the next, so try not to break in between. We will start at the top and work our way down the body; for a greater challenge, reverse this series. If planking on your hands hurts your wrists, feel free to go down onto your forearms.
1. Place the toning ball between your ankle joints and use your inner thighs to hold it in place in your plank position.
2. Without lifting your backside up, slowly shift your weight forward into your toes and shoulders. Shift back into your heels, keeping your perfect plank the whole time.
1. Keep your toning ball where it is and start in your plank position.
2. With your core engaged, shift to a side plank on one side with your planted arm directly under your shoulder and top arm reaching up. Hold for three counts.
3. Shift back through plank and then move into a side plank on the other side, holding for three counts. Try not to rock, making sure to use control as you alternate sides.
1. Start in plank position, again with the toning ball between your ankle joints.
2. Lift your backside up towards the ceiling (like in downward dog) and reach one hand beneath you toward the opposite leg, twisting at your ribs.
3. Come back to center and repeat to the other side. On the last rep, take the ball out from your ankles and place it in between your knees for the next exercise.
1. Come into a plank position with the toning ball between the knees, and squeeze onto it with your inner thighs.
2. Without slamming your knees onto the ground, give them a slight bend. Straighten, only moving at the knee joint and keeping your plank strong the whole time.
1. Keeping the toning ball between your knees and holding your plank, float one foot off the floor. Set it back down.
2. Alternate from left to right, thinking about the length of the legs and not the height so you can keep your form and alignment. Point your toes on the way up and flex on the way down.
This originally appeared on Prevention US.