To power through miles on the road, you need a strong core and solid cardio fitness. Anytime you can add exercises that build both—like plank jacks—to your routine it will help you make the most of even a quick workout. Plank jacks combine a standard plank with a jumping jack to give you all the benefits of a solid full-body exercise, explains Amber Rees, Barry’s Bootcamp instructor and cofounder of Brave Body Project.
“They test your strength and stability and give you that extra cardio boost we all need in our workouts,” she says. “Plank jacks are also an exercise that allows you ways to modify and advance them depending on the level of your workout.”
Here, Rees demos four variations you can try to spice up your core and cardio routine. Add one to your core circuit at the end of your rides or cross-training workouts, or incorporate all four.
How to do it: Before attempting any variations, first master the basic move: a plank jack. Start in a high plank position with your hands directly under your shoulders and your feet together. Then, keep your core engaged and hips level, jump your feet out to a wide V—like a jumping jack on the floor, then jump back in again. That’s one rep. Repeat. Keep your back as flat as possible and draw your belly button to your spine to prevent back injuries.
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Start in a high plank position with your hands directly under your shoulders and your feet together. Keeping your hips level and your left foot planted, step right foot out wide to right, then return to center. Then, keep right foot planted and step left foot out wide to left. Return to center. That’s one rep. Repeat.
Start in a high plank position with your hands directly under your shoulders and your feet together. Engage core to keep hips level and jump your feet out to a wide V—like a jumping jack on the floor, then jump back in again. That’s one rep. Repeat.
Start in high plank position and perform one plank jack by jumping both feet apart and back together. Next, bring left knee into chest (like one half of a mountain climber), then return to high plank position. Then perform another plank jack, come back to high plank position, then bring right knee into chest (the other half of a mountain climber). Repeat.
Start by performing one burpee: Come into a deep squat. Place your hands on the floor and jump your feet back into a high plank position with hands directly under shoulders. Bend elbows to perform one push-up, then jump your feet back in so that they land to the outside of your hands. Lift your hands off the floor and explosively jump straight up into the air. Land softly, coming back down into a deep squat. Then perform 2 plank jacks. Repeat.