Whether you are new to a gym or a regular member, overweight or underweight, doing plank exercises can improve core strength. The plank is one of the most thorough core exercises of all the core exercises. In theory, it is simple, but many people fail to execute it properly. If you do a plank correctly, you feel it working your glutes, abdominals, shoulders, chest, and even the pelvic floor.
The classic plank looks like the starting position for a push-up. People commonly perform forearm planks, especially if they have sensitive wrists. The best part about a plank is that you can activate various muscle groups in just 30-60 seconds. While traditional planks are great, there are ways to supercharge them. Doesn’t that sound great? Yes, yes it does.
Before we continue with great plank variations, it’s integral to avoid common mistakes when doing them. Click here to learn about things that you shouldn’t do during your planks. After you know what you shouldn’t do, follow the instructions in the plank variations below. Your core will thank you later.
Begin in a high plank by putting your hands on the ground, stacking your shoulders over your wrists. Extend your legs back, engage your core, and lift your body up to a high plank. Slowly shift your body forward an inch, then back an inch, engaging your core the entire time. Continue to pulse back and forth for 30-60 seconds.
Sit down on the ground with your legs extended out in front of you. Plant your hands on the ground about one foot behind your buttocks with your fingers facing your feet. Press through your hands and heels, engaging your glutes and your chest, and lift up and allow your head to fall back. Keep your body in a straight line and hold for a couple breaths. Return to the starting position and continue until you complete 10 reps.
Feel the burn in your obliques and your abs when you perform this plank variation. Begin in a forearm plank position with your feet extended back and elbows on the ground beneath your shoulders. Pull your right knee toward the outside of your right elbow and then return it back behind you. Make sure to bring your knee out to the side, not between your arms. Repeat the same movement with the left leg. Start with 8-12 reps on each side and aim for 20 reps per side as you get stronger.
High Plank To Forearm Plank
Start in a high plank position as described in the Plank Pulse variation. Make sure your hands are on the ground directly beneath your shoulders. Slowly lower your right elbow onto the ground, followed by your left elbow to end up in a forearm plank. Return to the high plank by pressing through one forearm at a timed placing your hands where your elbows used to be. Continue for 30-60 seconds, and increase your time as you get stronger. Make sure to not rock back and forth too much during this exercise. You should ideally keep your core tight and stable.
Start in a high plank position with your shoulders stacked over your wrists. Engage your pectoral and shoulder muscles and squeeze your hamstrings and glutes. Jump your feet out to the sides so that they are wider than your hands. Quickly jump them back to the starting position. Continue doing this in a quick motion until you complete 20 repetitions. Break for 30 seconds and then repeat two more times.
Side Plank Hip Dips
Side planks are helpful for increasing oblique strength. Lie on your right side and place you right forearm on the ground, keeping your elbow just below your shoulder. Extend the legs out so that your body is in a line, stacking your left leg on top of your right. Engage your glutes and core and push up to raise your left hip toward the ceiling. Your body should come to a straight line position. You can keep your left arm on your side, or extend it up above to increase the difficulty. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat until you complete 10-12 reps. Switch sides and repeat.