Top Ten Plank Exercises
Top Ten Plank Exercises
Planks. Love them or loath them this isometric exercise is fantastic for strengthening your abdominal, shoulder and back muscles. Performing the same exercises every day can get a bit boring though, so we've put together a list of plank variations.
Work your way up to being able to perform each exercise for 30 seconds and, as you get stronger, you can increase the time. Want to beat the Guinness World Record for longest plank? You’ll have to go for a staggering 8 hours 15 minutes and 15 seconds!
It is important to remember to keep your movements controlled and to be able to gently lower yourself down from your plank. If you find yourself collapsing in a heap you've held it for too long. Pull back the time by a few seconds and work up from there.
1 - The Plank
Before you start programming exercise variations into your routine it is good to perfect your form on the base version. There are two types of basic plank: low and high.
Get into a push up position, balancing on your toes and hands. Bring your forearms to the Exercise Mat or gym flooring one at a time. Hold this position while keeping your core tight and make sure not to lower your hips or arch your back. This is also known as an elbow plank.
Just starting out? Rest on your elbows and knees to perform a half plank.
The high plank is what most people think of when they imagine planks. Rest on your toes and palms, keeping your body in a straight line without straining your neck. This is also known as a full plank or a straight arm plank.
2 - Single Arm Plank
Get into a low plank position and lift and extend one arm until it is in line with the rest of your body. Hold for 15 seconds and repeat with the other arm. This is also known as the one arm plank.
3 - Side Plank
The side plank is perfect for strengthening your obliques. Lie on your side, balancing on one forearm and one leg. Making sure to keep your arm underneath your shoulder, raise your torso and hips towards the ceiling.
For an easier version, keep your knees bent. For a more advanced version, keep your legs straight and stacked on top of each other.
4 - Reverse Plank
This variation is great for targeting your glutes as well as your core. Sit with your legs lying in front of you, place your palms to the side of your shoulders and lift your torso and hips towards the ceiling. Balance on your heels and palms and keep your neck straight.
5 - Plyo Push-up to Plank Transfer
For this exercise you'll either need a Soft Plyo Jump Box or a Padded Weight Bench. Get into a push-up position with your hands on the box and then drop into a low plank, hold and slowly raise back into a push up.
Make sure that your hands are far enough onto the box that you won't fall off and that both your box/bench and feet are on a stable floor.
6 - Plank Jumps
Plank jumps are a great example of a dynamic exercise. Get into a high plank position and, keeping your arms and shoulders stationary, hop forwards on your toes before hopping back.
7 - Plank Shoulder Taps
Get into a high plank position and lift one arm, bringing it across your body to tap the opposite shoulder.
Instead of speed, focus on maintaining good form. Keep your movements smooth and controlled and avoid letting your hips go from side to side.
8 - Extended Plank
This is similar to a high plank but instead of placing your hands underneath your shoulders, put them in front of your head, while keeping them shoulder width apart.
This variation will really challenge and improve your stability. The further you extend your hands, the more difficult the exercise will be, but make sure not to overextend yourself.
9 - Weighted Plank
The weighted plank makes your body work harder to maintain good form. Wearing an Adjustable Weighted Vest allows you to adjust the weight so that you can tailor it to your exercise level. Increase the weight as your skill improves. This is also known as a loaded plank.
10 - Plank Twist
This final variation will target your side obliques. Get into a high plank position and, keeping your body in a straight line, move one arm across your chest. Pull that arm back and continue the movement towards the ceiling.
For an easier version, keep your feet shoulder width apart. For a harder version, keep them together.