Ab sessions are often performed in isolation after the main workout is done, tacked on as an accessory or afterthought. But your core is essential for full body strength, and you can often hit two muscle groups (or more) at the price of one—so make sure your routine includes exercises that give your core a chance to shine in the main set.
Trainer Charlee Atkins, C.S.C.S. uses those types of multifaceted exercises to keep her workouts fresh and effective, especially when she has to program around limitations like gym access and a lack of equipment. That’s when moves like the plank and leg extension come up in the clutch.
“Because a lot of my clients do their workouts at-home I’ve had to find different ways to do leg exercises that aren’t squats or lunges,” she says. “This exercise is a triple-whammy because it requires a lot of core strength and balance, but if you do enough reps of them you really start to light up the quads.”
The move is relatively simple to pull off, so all you’ll need to get that core-quad burn is a low platform for your feet. If you really want a challenge, Atkins suggest putting using an exercise ball.
- Start in pushup-plank position, with your feet elevated on the step, exercise ball, or low bench. Squeeze your glutes and core to keep your spine straight and in the proper position.
- Shift your weight forward slightly, so your shoulders are slightly in front of your wrists.
- Bend your knees to touch the ground.
- Keep your core tight while focusing on extending the legs at the knees and squeeze your quads to return to the starting position.
Depending on your strength level, you can try the plank and leg extension as a warm-up or burnout to cap off a leg day workout. Try 3 sets of 12 to 15 reps to start, then add volume as you master the form.
By Brett Williams