Hello fellow fitness bloggers,
After doing a recent post on just a handful of plank variations, I received great feedback on how helpful it was and how people were unaware that there were even 4 variations!
Planks don’t have to be as hard as they’re made out to be, sure the advanced ones are impressive, but an incredible amount of work still goes into even the easiest move out of the lot. I seem to get the impression the the P-word creates the same dread as the mention of the TRX. I want to break that stereotypical view of the plank, and make it more appealing and accessible to everyone!!
So brace yourselves for this post as I explore different variations, from thegreatist.com site (ask for full web address), all at different workout levels which lets me accommodate to what you’re looking for in a workout!
I thought i’d get the boring but important posture stuff out the way first, rather then having to repeat myself after introducing every new exercise to you (which i’ll probably end up doing anyway)! If you’re familiar with the plank, then hopefully you’ll know to have a flat back, bottom and hips low with your abs engaged.
To make sure of this, I strongly advise the use of mirrors at the gym or in a class hall. Sometimes it feels as if you’re body is doing one thing, when actually its doing the other, and you’re only causing strain. Don’t be afraid to actually look at yourself in the gym, yes you’re red, yes you’re sweaty, but here is the place for it!!
1. Kneeling Plank
This is ideal for beginners/newbies to core fitness or for people that suffer with lower back problems. Rest on your elbows and let your knees rest on the flow along with your toes, however use a mirror to make sure that back is flat and not arching/dipping, this ensures your abs are engaged!
2. Forearm Plank
This being the one you’re probably the most common with. Its the favourable position of the planking world! The only difference here is having you knees lifted. The wider you position your feet the easier!
3. High Plank
This is otherwise known as a ‘standard plank’…why its called that, I have no idea. For me, this is significantly harder than the perviously mentioned. It’s a step up from elbow planking, therefore i’ll go with a ‘high plank’! Its a little bit harder, only because the amount of body weight you are dispersing has been limited to just the palms of your hands, making it harder to keep yourself up! Why not start off in a Hand Plank if you’re not sure, you can always lower to elbows – if you don’t try you’ll never know!
4. Rocking Plank
See video tutorial. This one you can do on either your hands or your elbows, what ever feels most comfortable or most challenging at the time! Remember its always better to do too much rather than too little. This is a gentle motion, keeping your upper body motionless, therefore creating all of the rocking movement to be from the toes!
5. Plank With Shoulder Touches
This moves gotta be done from a High Plank position (straight arms), reach your right hand to touch you left shoulder, place back down and repeat on the other side. The thing to remember here, is to try and keep your waist as still as possible. The temptation to sway with the movement (like the Macarena) is real, but imagine a glass of your favourite beverage is resting on your back. That normally does the trick.
6. Reverse Plank
This move may require a certain level of flexibility within your shoulders. If you’re really struggling to hold yourself up, try dropping to your elbows. Even still, then take it slow, if you’re used to core exercises and struggle with this one, it’s probably due to low flexibility. A lot of women do better than men in this one!
7. TRX Plank
Don’t be put off by the acronym, it’s not as scary as you think. Promise. Lower the TRX straps by pulling on the yellow tags, so that they’re hanging by your shins when standing. Pop your feet into the loops – no ladylike way of doing it, yes its embarrassing when they’re almost running away from you but it happens to everyone – and crawl forward into the plank position. Elbows or hands, remember to start harder!
8. Elbow to Hands Plank
This one kills me, it looks simple but the amount of energy needed is incredible! That’s not excuse though, one of these is better than none! This is also known as the walking plank, slowly push up your right arm onto your hands and let the left follow, then slowly lower your elbow onto the ground and repeating this process.
9. X Plank
Ok don’t scroll because, yes, it looks silly, but it works your abs in places you never thought possible. Start in the standard plank position and move your legs wider than hip width. If you feel the burn here, you can stay in this position with your hands narrow, i guess that would be a Y plank? If not, feel free to widen your hands!
10. Bosu Topside Plank
For an easier level, place the BOSU bubble side up and rest your elbows on the squidgy bit. Maintain exactly the same posture as previously mentioned! The elevation adds work to the abs!
11. BOSU Walking Plank
Just like Number 8, follow the guidelines (scroll up if you need reminding), making sure the bubble side is up. The extra elevation means more work for your abs! Side planks work well on these too!
12. Single Arm Plank
Having one arm raised tests your balance as well as core strength. Slowly lift one arm, extending out infront of you keeping it aligned with your head, here you’ll be tempted to lift your hips up and to the right/left. Resist! Imagine your reaching out for something you’ve always wanted, and if that means a cheeseburger then go ahead. Whatever works!
13. Knee-To-Inside Elbow Plank
Im guessing you can tell the motion from the picture. Just incase you don’t; lift the opposite knee to elbow without dropping the other sides hip or shoulder! Remember stationary posture is crucial.
14. Knee-To-Outside Elbow Plank
As usual, start off in the usual plank position on your hands (see number 3). Slowly lift your knee to the corresponding elbow, moving it outside of your body rather than underneath it. Try and get it all the way to your elbow depending on your flexibility, extra points if you do!
15. Plank Jacks
This is basically a planking star jump! Starting in your Hand Plank with narrow feet, jump your feet outwards and back in again. If the jumping is too much, try stepping your feet out instead. Try to get into a rhythm when doing these, it helps!
16. Rowing Plank
Holding a dumbbell of medium weight, get set up in the Hands Plank (no. 3), instead rest your weight on the dumbbells rather than the palms of your hand. Make sure your weights have some flat edges to rest on, if they’re rounded you may end up suffering with a broken nose. Bend your right elbow, up to the armpit, lifting it towards the ceiling, as if you were a puppet and someone was pulling on the elbow string! Make sure the weight always remains close to the body.
17. Bird Dog Plank
With reference to the name…I’ve got no idea either, I prefer superwoman if I’m honest! This is just like the Single Arm Plank (12) but adding the lift of the opposite leg draws your core in even more as it’s left searching for that extra bit of stability! Try to keep your body in a straight line from fingertips to toe!
18. Fingertip Plank
Ok this one, frankly, scares me a little. I’m not sure how he’s smiling so much with the fear of breaking all of your fingers…However, if you’re experienced and are able to complete all of the above with ease – give it a go. Annoyingly, all of the google image searches for a ‘fingertip plank’ are men…I’m not sure if that’s got anything to do with the strength required for this one but, BE that girl proves me wrong!!
19. Plank Plate Drag
Phew, a plank with all fingers on the ground! This one is great for pushing your abs just that little bit more when they’re already knackered. If the weight of a plate is too much, you can create the exact same movement with your gym towel or a cloth! Remember to stick the bum down when pushing it back out, the temptation to rise is there I know!
20. TRX Suspended Crunch
Heading back to the (hopefully) no longer dreaded TRX straps, this one is great to add on after a 30 second plank hold if you can! Sweep your feet inwards to your stomach making sure you crunch your abs whilst doing so. It’s also a good opportunity to see if you can swing out o the side and crunch. I also try to do the next one whilst I’m there too!
21. TRX Suspended Plank to Pike
Keeping your technique from number 7, start raising your hips. I know this goes against everything I’ve said so far about planking, but it’s the coming down that’s important here. With your hips raised and looking at your suspended feet, slowly lower yourself back into the plank position with control. If you’re gonna flop yourself back down without engaging your core, don’t bother. The slower, the better.
22. Plank Toe Touches
Taking your opposite hand to foot, bring your legs in towards you and over to the other side. Meet your opposite hand and touch and repeat. This one will feel incredibly easy if you’re going to let your hips raise and body sway. The key is keeping everything else stationary but lowering the hip bone of the leg that’s moving towards the floor, allowing your abdomen to twist with you. Keep that straight line as much as poss!
23. Plank Rollouts
This can be done with an exercise ball, TRX straps, a plank roller or even a foam roller! It requires, probably the most concentration out of them all seeing as the equipment is a sphere and can result in an embarrassing accident. Keep the straight line, bum tucked in and abs pushed to your spine and slowly extend the arms away, causing the ball (or whatever you’re using) to roll with them. Drag it back in using your core and repeat.
24. BOSU Wobble Plank
Flip your BOSU board so the flat side is facing up and engage the abs from the start! If this isn’t enough for you, try rocking it side to side or even adding some mountain climbers into it or numbers 13 & 14.