Just when we thought we’d tried every plank out there, we found the hardest one yet


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Photo: Getty Images/AleksandarGeorgiev

When a trainer cues plank position mid-workout, one thing’s for sure: Your abs will be screaming for at least the next two days. And while the stationary version of this killer move is brutal on its own, it seems that every single day yields a creative new way to level up the classic pre-push-up position. Most recently? The ultra-intense seal-walk plank—which, despite its name, is not cute at all.

Recently, Zoë Weiner, associate beauty and fitness editor at Well+Good, faced this move in a morning HIIT class. “I consider myself a seasoned plank-er, but this move was so, so much harder than anything I’ve ever tried before—including plank jacks and high-to-low planks,” she tells me with lingering fear in her eyes. “My arms, legs, and core were quaking, and at one point I had to drop to my knees, which is how I knew it was working.”

If you’re up for the challenge, you’ll first need to grab a pair of sliders and place them directly under your feet. Then, assume the push-up position and get ready to get down to business.

“My arms, legs, and core were quaking, and at one point I had to drop to my knees, which is how I knew it was working.” —Zoe Weiner, associate beauty and fitness editor

“In many ways, it’s like a walking plank, in which your hands move one at a time in front of you while your legs slide behind you on the sliders,” says Ivana Bolf, a trainer at Body Space Fitness in New York. “Knees should be off the ground the entire time, your spine should remain in a neutral position (AKA, no hips in the air), and elbows should not be locked out.”

She adds that your number-one goal here is to keep your hips from swaying side-to-side too much, which would compromise your connection with your core.

“Seal walks will work your entire core, which inevitably will help stabilize your spine and prevent lower-back injuries,” Bolf says. But keep in mind, there’s always motivation you can tap when you’re in extreme discomfort while seeing out your reps: Just picture those adorable Antarctic creatures, dragging along.

If you’re not planked-out yet, try this “windshield wiper” variation and/or J.Lo’s four-part plank series

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