The ‘Blast-Off Bear Plank’ Combines 3 of the Hardest Cardio Core Exercises Into a Single Move

Photo: Getty/pixdeluxe
The classic plank is one of the most foundational fitness moves. Mountain climbers are nothing more than "running planks," push-ups are really just "moving planks," and even burpees require you to hold the position for a beat before exploding up into a jump squat. You'd be hard pressed to find a modality that doesn't rely on a plank in some capacity, and trainers are constantly innovating to find new—and more effective—ways to integrate it into their workouts. Just when I thought I'd experienced every rendition (on this very site, we've written about everything from the "Spiderman plank" to the "juggling plank"), trainer Tiffani Robbins introduced me to the "blast-off bear plank," and my core (and glute, and shoulder) muscles will never be the same.

The exercise links up three of the hardest core moves—the classic plank, the pike plank, and the bear plank—and the result is an intense compound series. Unlike the static plank, which involves holding still in the position for a set amount of time, this version involves nonstop movement that will spike your heart rate and leave you drenched in sweat. "I love creating a move that works multiple muscle groups at once —and a fun plank variation will do just that," says Robbins. "This exercise works deep core stabilizers with the plank, your legs and glutes as you push into the bear plank,  and your arms and back muscles as you hold your weight while your body moves from position to position. Plus, doing it repetitively at a quick pace spikes the heart rate and challenges the cardiovascular system."

To try the move for yourself, you'll want to start out in a bear plank with your hands planted under your shoulders and your knees bent and lifted a few inches off of the floor. Then, hop your feet straight back behind you so that you're holding a full, straight arm plank. Lift your hips into the sky for a pike position (for a real challenge, lower your head toward the ground for a pike push-up), then hop your feet back in for a bear plank and do it again.

Each of these individual exercises target your core, glutes, and shoulders, and doing them together will give you a triple dose of work in all three areas. Plus, the explosive element you get when you're jumping from one type of plank into another adds some ever-important cardio and mobility into the mix. Try to cycle through three 30-second intervals (with 20 seconds of rest in between), and after a single set you'll see firsthand just how effective planks can be for building strength.

Before you move on to this advanced move, you'll want to be sure you've got your standard plank down pat. Follow along with the video below to confirm you're doing it right.

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