While they're not necessarily for the faint of heart, planks are ideal for those of us who can't necessarily find the time to log a full gym sesh—they're quick, efficient, and immensely effective, especially if you're looking to carve out a toned midsection. (Fact: Experts would much rather see you drop down into plank position for a minute than hamster-wheel your way through dozens of crunches.)
But if your muscles aren't quaking by the 30-second mark quite like they used to (and you're positive your form is on point), then it may be time to switch things up. There are countless variations that make planks more or less challenging and target different muscles—and tweaking your standard method could be just what you need to break out of a plateau.
To hit the ground running (planking?), consider this challenging variation from L.A.-based trainer Alexis Novak: forearm plank rocks. In addition to working the core, she tells Self, this move also targets the shoulders—a must if you're guilty of carrying a heavy bag throughout the day. "It also targets the accessory [or smaller] muscles that sometimes take a back seat when you do other shoulder-focused exercises, like a shoulder press," she adds.
The move is simple: You start forearm plank position and slowly rock forward and backward, using the balls of your feet. Repeat for 15 to 30 seconds, take a break, and do the whole move again three to five more times.
Head over to Self to get a visual of the move, and shop some of our plank-boosting essentials below.
Gaiam Sol Dry Grip Yoga Mat ($56)
Investing in a decent yoga mat means you don't have to touch the grody gym floor.