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Chapter 4 Planks This was the exercise that I used exclusively to maintain decently toned abs without injuring my back. If you have a back injury and want to have great looking abs, this is your best option by far. This is the standard regular plank. The idea is to hold this position for 1-2 minutes. Once you can work up to 2 minutes you will eventually get solid abs. I'll give you a more detailed routine in a sec. Planks train your abs to be in a contracted state when your spine is in a neutral position. Most other ab exercises require either flexing forward of the spine or your lower or upper trunk to rotate forward. This is a BIG deal! When you are on vacation and laying on a towel or walking down the beach, your spine is in a neutral position. Planks insure that your abs display muscle tone during these times. This is why I recommend planks even if you don't have back issues. Planks also seem to ensure even ab development. Your entire torso has to flex to ensure that your body stays rigid. The first thing I noticed after doing planks for three months is that all the muscles in my torso were equally 17