Planks are a great foundational move to sculpt your abs, but the basic form of the exercise is only the start of the position’s potential. Once you add other implements and motions like pulling, your core workout will never be the same.
Men’s Health Fitness Director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S. upgrades his plank work by bringing in the big guns: Battle ropes and weight sleds. But he’s not just introducing the extra factors to be flashy—there’s a method behind the madness.
“Setup for this one’s a little involved, but it’s worth it, because it’ll really force you to perfect your pullup form, hone your grip strength, and torch your entire core,” says Samuel. “Essentially, we’re blending two motions—a plank reach and a single-arm pullup—into one, while forcing you to completely own the plank motion.” The heavy pulls also mean your arms and lats will face a challenge, too.
You’ll need to be in a fairly high-level gym to pull off this move, given the equipment you’ll need to make it work. If you don’t have access to a sled and rope, check out this rope from Onnit—or, try a scaled back version of the exercise with a cable tower or resistance bands, or this one with a weight plate.
Men’s Health/Eric Rosati
Make sure your starting position, the forearm plank, is as strong as possible. Check out this video to learn how to get it right.
The key to this exercise is maintaining your form. “By forcing you into that plank position, you’re creating a ton of abdominal tension, which is really going to smoke your core if you’re responsible about thinking hips-and-shoulders square,” says Samuel. “Once you own this position and pull the sled, you really get to focus on vertical pulling mechanics. You can’t turn this into a quasi-row unless you break the plank.”
Try this move as a brutal ab finisher on your back workout days by completing 3 sets with each arm. For more tips and routines from Samuel, check out our full slate of Eb and Swole workouts. If you want to try an even more dedicated routine, consider Eb’s New Rules of Muscle program.
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