Planks are such a simple yet effective exercise, which makes them so convenient to do. With most variations, you’re not exactly moving your body a lot as you would with sit-ups. Nevertheless, planks are such an effective and worthwhile exercise that can help make your abs and core truly stand out.
The simple plank doesn’t only work on strengthening your abs, but those in your upper body, arms, glutes, and lower back. But why stick to just one variation when you can be doing many? This can help to up the challenge a bit, make things more interesting, and more importantly, help you truly master the plank by strengthening different body parts.
Plank Variation #1: Forearm Plank
This is what we can consider to be the standard plank, which is typically held for around a minute or so. To perform a forearm plank, lie with both legs extended and your head towards the floor. Keep your hands out in front of you and bend your elbows so you can rest on your forearms. Keep your feet a foot apart and use your feet to hold up your body. Hold position for 60 seconds.
Plank Variation #2: Rocking Plank
Go back into the standard forearm plank position. You can do this on your hands too, if you like. Begin the rocking plank by using your toes to rock you forward and then slowly rock your body and shoulders backwards until your heels reach beyong your toes. Continue to gradually do this movement for about a minute or so. This is a great plank variation if you’re looking to implement a bit of movement.
Plank Variation #3: The Side Plank
Think of the side plank as completely rotating the forearm plank. Instead of being parallel to the floor, now you’re body will be in a perpendicular position. To perform, start in the standard forearm plank position and keep both feet together. Lean over to one side using one arm until the other arm is reached towards the ceiling above you.
Plank Variation #4: Chatarunga Plank
This is more of an advanced technique, but one of my favorite plank variations. It’s really great for engaging the core and is similar to a standard plank, but the positioning is a bit different. To perform a Chatarunga plank, start in a standard plank position using both hands so your arms are extended straight and your body is lifted high. Using only your toes and hands to gradually lower your body until your arms are in line with the rest of your body. Think of it like doing a plank in push-up position. Try holding for 60 seconds if you can!
Plank Variation #5: Single-Arm Plank
Another advanced technique that will really help you master the plank and your balance is the single-arm plank. We’ll be doing the same forearm plank technique here. The only difference here is you’ll be using only one forearm to hold up your bodyweight instead of two. Use the opposite arm to extend it out in front of you. Try holding it for 30 seconds each arm.
Plank Variation #6: Single-Legged Plank
Just like the single-arm plank, we can also do a single-legged plank, which is great for our core and glutes. To perform a single-legged plank, start in your standard forearm plank and lift up on leg so it extends straight behind you. Hold for 30 seconds and switch legs.
Plank Variation #7: Plank Hip-Dips
Let’s add some hip motion to our planks by starting in our forearm plank. In order to do a plank hip-dip, rotate your hips to one side and have them roll and dip towards the ground so your front thigh barely touches the floor. Repeat on the opposite side.
Plank Variation #8: Plank Jumping Jacks
Unlike our standard plank, plank jumping jacks add a lot more motion to our usual isolated plank. To perform, start in a plank position using your hands instead of your forearms. With your feet together, kick or jump both legs outwards and then inwards. Repeat this movement for 2 sets of 10 repetitions.
Plank Variation #9: Plank Rows
Plank rows are another favorite plank variation of mine because they really emphasize the use of your mid and upper back. In order to do a plank row, you’ll need a set of light weights. Using both dumbbells, start in your standard high plank position. Use one arm to bring up the dumbbell to your body. Bring the dumbbell back down and repeat with the opposite arm. Try doing 2 sets of 10 repetitions.
Plank Variation #10: Plank Using a Stability Ball
Doing a plank on a stability ball is a very neat plank variation you can do to challenge your workout and really work on balancing your body. If you don’t have one, I highly recommend going with a Gaiam stability ball, which you can use for a ton of other exercises as well. To do a plank with a stability ball, use your hands to assume the standard plank position and place your feet up on the ball. Hold position for 60 seconds.
Plank Variation #11: Plank Crunches Using a Stability Ball
Similar to plank variation #10, this one will add some great core movement to our position. In order to do a plank crunch, use both feet to bring your knees toward your chest. Use your feet to push the ball back out and repeat for 2 sets of 10 repetitions.