The plank is an awesome exercise. Not only does it strengthen your abs, but also the core stabilizer muscles in the trunk and legs. Even your arms are engaged in this fairly simple exercise! There are numerous variations, such as lifting one leg or one arm (or both), or starting from a push up position (as pictured). The plank is an isometric exercise that helps build endurance throughout your core – including the rectus abdominus, obliques, lower back and stabilizing muscles. Since it is an effective but simple exercise, my friend Karrie Ryan, who is a personal trainer, loves to tell clients that the plank is one of her favorites for when time is limited and you need a “bang for your buck”. I don’t do crunches too much (see 9 Kid Fitness post called Ladies Beware of Crunches), and so the plank is my standard ab exercise…but it is truly so much more! No matter what you are training for, or if you are simply trying to improve your fitness, the plank should be a part of your workout reperatoire!