The plank has become an easy, post-workout prescription usually performed by guys who are more concerned with setting the Guinness World Record for time, regardless of how sloppy their form gets. Which is sad, because when properly executed, the plank is the end-all for full-body stability and better posture. Also, it’ll help you chisel out a great set of abs. Here, we outline how to perform the perfect plank, then offer four variations to take it up a notch. Think your abs can handle it?

The traditional plank is the OG plank. Perform it for better core stability and improved posture, as you’re forced to keep your shoulder blades back and your hips straight.

How to Do a Traditional Plank:

  • Get into a pushup position—either on your hands or forearms—and then tighten your core. Your feet should be shoulder width or narrower, and your back and hips should be in one straight line.
  • Tense every muscle in your body.
  • Perform for 3 sets of 20 seconds. It should be a very hard 20 seconds.

How to Program Plank Varieties:

The plank can be performed any time during your workout. Do it before a lift to heat up and activate your shoulder, glute, and core muscles. Or work it in as a finisher to really smoke the system and target your abs. Some of the following variations can even be incorporated in the middle of your workout, either as straight sets or as part of a circuit.