14 Plank Variations To Upgrade Your Core Workout
As much as we love planks for the core muscles they work and the satisfying feeling of achieving a new plank-hold record, we also know that every shaky, sweaty second spent planking can feel like an eternity. Feeling a bit bored with your standard plank or craving a new challenge? That’s where plank variations come in.
According to Harvard Health, the plank pose is incredibly safe and effective because it activates all your core muscles at once, while also utilising muscles in your upper and lower body. An added bonus? Planks don’t require additional movements or bending of the spine which can cause stress or injury for some people.
Next time you want to fire up your core or have a go at something slightly different to a traditional plank, why not try one of these fun variations?
This is a compound exercise that works your shoulders, chest, arms and core. It will also increase your heart rate more than a stationary plank! Remember to repeat an equal number of repetitions starting with each arm and ensure your core stays engaged to prevent your hips from swaying.
Plank and toe lift
This exercise is a step up in difficulty from a standard low plank and is an effective way to prepare for more challenging variations like plank jacks. Perform it slowly and with control, focusing on keeping your hips low and steady as it’s easy to let them lift or sway as each foot comes off the ground. You should feel your glutes and core engaging every time you lift your foot!
Holding a plank with your shins resting on an exercise ball is a great way to add an element of instability and challenge your upper body strength by putting more weight into your arms, shoulders and hands. If you don’t have an exercise ball, you can also try this with your feet on a bench or step.
Adding this twisting, rocking motion to a plank is a great way to strengthen your obliques - the muscles that run along the side of your core. You’ll also feel this movement in your shoulders as you rock from side to side.
Side plank and oblique crunch
This is an advanced exercise so don’t be disheartened if it takes you a little while to master or if you can only complete a few reps at first. It’s a real burner for your obliques and requires a lot of strength, balance, mobility and coordination! The oblique crunch can also be tough if you have tight hip flexors, so feel free to modify this movement and hold a stationary side plank if that feels better.
High plank and alternating superman
What’s harder than a plank? A one-armed plank! Incorporate these in your next workout for a fun move that will test your muscles and your balance. The more stable you can keep your hips, the better.
Give your arms, back and shoulders an extra workout by shifting your weight from one hand to the other as you reach towards your foot.
Plank and drag
This variation involves a dumbbell for extra resistance and will work your core, obliques, upper back, lats and glutes. Focus on engaging your core to keep your hips as steady as possible and perform each dumbbell drag with control. If adding the dumbbell is too difficult, start by practicing the sweeping movement with your arm and then add a light dumbbell once you feel confident with the movement.
You should feel tension in your shoulder and core while performing this movement. Remember to keep your hips up as it’s easy to let them sag towards the floor as you rotate your torso side to side.
For a cardio burst and some full-body sizzle, jack your feet in and out while holding a high plank position. To get the most out of this exercise, try to keep your hips in line with your spine the whole time rather than bouncing up and down. This move isn’t about getting air, and having a floor-length mirror handy can help to keep an eye on your form.
A tiny change to your forearm placement can add a whole lot more work for your shoulders and core. Once you’ve mastered an extended plank, your next challenge is to try the ab roller. It’s SO much harder than it looks!
Push up and side plank
Also known as a T push-up, this side plank variation is a powerful way to build your upper body strength in your core, arms, back and chest. If you’re yet to master push-ups on your toes, you can perform the push-up on your knees before lifting onto your toes for the plank and rotation.
Incline plank circles
These might look easy, but don’t be fooled by appearances - you’ll quickly realise how much the ball moves! Get ready for your shakiest plank ever, literally. When you’re ready, try it on your toes for an added challenge. If you have access to a Bosu ball, they are another great piece of equipment to use in place of an exercise ball.
Shoulder tap and rocking chair
We left one of the most fun plank variations for last. Get ready to increase your core control, stability and strength while also enjoying a nice upper body stretch as you push back into your heels then power forward.
Reap all the benefits of planking (and more) without ever doing a standard plank again! These 14 plank variations are great substitutes for anytime your Sweat workout calls for a plank, or whenever you want to substitute a core exercise. Enjoy the burn!
* Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. The above information should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, sleep methods, daily activity, or fitness routine. Sweat assumes no responsibility for any personal injury or damage sustained by any recommendations, opinions, or advice given in this article.