We all know that the plank is an indispensable core exercise, but it can get a bit tedious holding it for ever longer periods in order to keep the progression coming.

Another way to make your planks more effective, besides donning a weight vest, is to suspend your hands or hands and feet as well, as a 2014 study shows.

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Planks: the suspension is killing me!

A researcher at the Memorial University of Newfoundland performed an experiment with 21 students.

She attached electrodes to their abdominal muscles and then had them perform planks in a variety of different positions, with and without suspensions.

The various combinations were: no suspensions; hands suspended; feet suspended; feet and hands suspended.

The electrodes measured how hard the muscles worked in each case.

The four different positions used in the plank experiment

The results clearly showed that having your hands suspended or having your hands and feet suspended made the abdominal muscles work the hardest. Surprisingly, as the researchers note, having all limbs suspended was not more taxing than just the hands.

Suspensions make your plank exercises even better

Try this one weird tip to increase the effectiveness of your bench press

bench press

Researchers at the Universidad de Almeria, writing in the journal PLoS One, reported that raising the legs so that the knees and hips are flexed significantly increases muscle activation in the upper body during the bench press.

They took 20 young men and had them bench press either with their legs on the floor, as normal, or with their knees and hips flexed, off the ground. The activity of the muscles of the upper body was measured using electrodes.

The results speak for themselves.
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Although expensive suspension kits exist, you can purchase a set or two of gymnastic rings for a very reasonable price on Amazon. They can easily be rigged up to a chin-up bar, power rack or other form of horizontal.

So if you’re looking to take your core training to the next level, suspend your current regime and reap the benefits!

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