When it comes to core conditioning, planks never go out of style. That's because they strengthen all the muscles that make up your core, including your back, abs, shoulders, quads and glutes, Nedra Lopez Matosov, personal trainer and women's wellness expert, tells LIVESTRONG.com.
And while those benefits are hard to beat, one plank variation does all that and more. Plank wipers — which involve slowly swinging each leg to the side in an arc motion (the pattern resembles the way windshield wipers move) while in a forearm plank — force your muscles to do double duty as they stabilize you and complete the moving part, Lopez Matosov says.
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As a result, this killer combo builds total body strength (plank wipers especially work wonders for your abs and obliques) and improves hip mobility, alignment and body awareness, Lopez Matosov says.
How to Do Plank Wipers
- Begin in a forearm plank with your elbows beneath your shoulders and your body in a straight line from head to hips to heels.
- Look at your thumbs to keep your cervical spine in alignment and keep your back active by maintaining the sensation that you're pulling your chest through your shoulders.
- Pull your bellybutton up, squeeze your glutes and thighs and push your heels back. Keep scanning your body like this throughout the exercise.
- Inhale as you open one leg out to the side, keeping your toes facing down.
- Exhale and brace your core, squeezing your inner thighs and glutes to bring your legs back together.
- Repeat with the other leg, then continue alternating sides. Focus on moving slowly with control and matching your breath to the movement.
“To ensure you stay level, push more weight into the stabilizing forearm and squeeze your glute of the stationary leg,” Lopez Matosov says. And if the move is too challenging, drop to the knee of your stabilizing side, she says.
3 Reasons to Do Plank Wipers Every Day
Plank wipers are a great dynamic exercise to incorporate into your daily routine. Here are just a few reasons why you should:
1. They Fire Up Your Core
Traditional planks are effective because you hold your entire body steady, which is important for strengthening the deepest layers of your core and obliques, Lopez Matosov says. But plank wipers take ab training to the next level.
Here's why: When you add the leg movement, the other side of your body must work way harder to stabilize you while the moving side performs mobility work that targets the obliques, she says.
2. They Enhance Hip Mobility
"Since your core and glutes are working to stabilize, you're able to isolate the hip that is moving and increase the strength and range of motion in both hips equally through repetition," Lopez Matosov says.
3. They Work Your Abductors and Adductors
Your outer thighs (abductors) are engaged when you open your leg to the side, and as long as you squeeze your inner thighs to bring your legs back together, you'll work your adductors too, Lopez Matosov says.