Who enjoys planks?

I’ll assume not many hands are being raised.

We understand how good they are for our core and so we do them, but here’s the thing: they are insanely boring. Holding a plank position for as long as possible, shaking and sweating while staring at the floor ... surely there is something else?

Then, maybe not. Planks not only work your core, but can engage up to 20 different muscles, including shoulders, back, arms, legs and glutes. They are a good alternative to sit-ups or crunches and are easier on the back.

My attention span is short, so having a variety of options for planks helps me to get what I need out of them without losing interest.

There are probably more than 50 different plank exercises, but here are six of my favorites:

Spiderman plank: In the plank position, bring the left knee to the left elbow, and repeat with the right knee to the right elbow.

Shoulder touch plank: In the plank position, touch your left shoulder with your right hand and repeat with the other hand.

Plank walk down: Start in plank position and lower the left forearm to the ground, then lower the right forearm, pause, and then return to the starting position in the order you went down in, then repeat with the right forearm down first.

Toe-touch plank: Starting in the plank position, pike up, touch your left foot with your right hand, return to plank, pike up, touch your right foot with your left hand, return to plank.

Lowering and hold plank: In the plank position on your hands, slightly lower yourself, hold, lower more, hold, lower more and hold until you have reached the ground.

Pike plank: Raise your behind into the air, pulling your belly button in toward your spine.

Now, the challenge comes when you do the first five variations in a row (10 reps each) without resting and use the pike plank when you just can’t take it and need a slight break. Try it; you may not enjoy it, but the bang-for-your-buck return you get is hard to deny.

Avery Reekstin is an editorial assistant at The Sentinel. She’s never met an exercise she wasn’t willing to try. She will share her tips and those of others in this space on an occasional basis.