Ready to build tight core muscles and reveal a washboard stomach? Look no further than the humble plank exercise. You can forget about performing hundreds of crunches, risking a back or neck injury in the process. Planks have an incredibly low risk of injury and actually help to improve posture.
Better yet, there are countless plank exercise variations to work your muscles harder as your strength progresses. Almost all variations work your midsection, abdominals, obliques, and deep core muscles. Many place secondary tension on arms, shoulders, back, glutes, and even hamstrings.
Ready to chisel out a mighty midsection? Start working your way through these 10 plank exercise variations.
Plank Exercise Progression:
- Hold plank positions for 20-60 seconds
- Repeat 3 times with 1 minutes break between each set
- Push yourself to go 5-10 seconds longer each session
- When you can, perform a variation for 60 seconds
- Once you can perform a plank variant for 60 seconds, move on to the next variation
- Perform workouts 3-5 times per week
1. Plank Jacks
Adding jacks significantly increases the engagement of your abdominal muscles during this exercise. They should be performed from the straight-armed plank position.
Purposefully tighten your core and keep your back in line. Plank jacks should be performed between 20-40 times before moving on to the next plank variation!
2. Caterpillar Crawl Plank
This move is best performed on a hard and smooth surface using a small towel to reduce friction. Assume the straight-armed plank position with the towel beneath your feet. Begin by crawling forwards then backwards with your arms.
Remember, keep your core tight! This plank exercise will also work your shoulders and triceps!
3. Spiderman Plank
Begin the plank with your forearms parallel to the floor. Draw one knee towards your elbow, getting as close as you can without compromising your body position. Then, push your heel back towards its starting position before repeating on the other side.
There’s no twisting or bending during this exercise, and try not to let your foot touch the floor! Perform between 10-20 times per side and you’ll really feel your abdominals burn!
4. Side Plank
Side planks put greater emphasis on the obliques and deep core muscles. It’s a smaller group of muscles so this move quickly becomes tough. Build up to 30 seconds on each side with a quick transition.
Keep your body, head, and neck naturally in line while performing this move. Place your other hand on your hip and squeeze your hip muscles to straighten your posture.
5. Decline Plank
This is similar to the regular plank, but with your feet elevated to place greater tension on your upper abs. You could use any secure object, such as a bench, sofa, or table.
Remember to keep that back straight and continue to breathe naturally.
6. Ball Roll Out Plank
This balancing act will greatly stimulate the abdominal and core muscles through stabilization. Begin in the forearm plank position on the ball and push your arms forward to roll the ball slightly. Hold this position for up to 60 seconds, then carefully roll it back.
Find a position that best engages your abs and midsection and remember to breathe naturally.
7. Leg Lift Plank
From the standard plank position, raise one of your legs behind you while keeping your body parallel to the ground. Hold this position for up to 30 seconds before switching to the other leg for a further 30 seconds.
Keep your body alignment in check and stay parallel with the floor throughout this exercise.
8. Leg and Arm Lift Plank
This is a tougher plank variation performed much like the previous leg lift plank, except you must also lift your opposite arm!
Again, it’s essential to keep a horizontal back during the entire exercise. Try doing 30 seconds on each side.
9. Leg and Arm Side Plank
While in the side plank position, raise both your top arm and leg into the air as high as possible. Support yourself with your other arm and leg, but stability should be provided by tensing your midsection.
Hold each side for 30 seconds before switching.
10. Wall Plank
Admittedly, this plank exercise is far harder than it looks. Get back in a forearm plank position, push your feet against a wall, and hold this position.
Increasing the elevation of your feet will increase the difficulty. If you can perform this exercise for 60 seconds, you’ll have incredible abdominal strength!