Planks are a static exercise that, like push-ups, target the entire front half of your body, but are designed to build core strength as you hold a steady position for an extended period of time. Colleen Woods Dahlem, a certified trainer, has all her clients do them because, "They’re so simple -- they can be done anywhere, and work so much more than the core."
When you’re ready to switch things up, these exercises offer the twist you’re looking for. They’re grounded in strength-focused mechanics, but they’re also total-body exercises that are practically guaranteed to raise your heart rate for a cardiovascular boost.
The bear squat combines a squat and a plank with a dollop of low-impact power. If your quads don’t start to scream after 20 or 30 seconds, you’re a better person than I!
Start in a high push-up position, palms under shoulders, body forming a straight line. Press your hips back, bend your knees, and extend your arms over your head without allowing your knees to touch down. Once you’re in this “plank squat,” press powerfully through the balls of your feet to extend your arms and return to the high pushup position.
During a surrender, you move from a kneeling position to a standing position, then back to a kneeling position again, all while holding your arms above your head, as if you were surrendering. Rachael Novello, a certified personal trainer and fitness instructor, explains, “They really target those lower body muscles -- they’re perfect for exercisers of any level and can easily be modified if necessary. I’m currently doing them at 33 weeks pregnant and love them.“ Check out Rachael doing the move in action.