We’ve all heard it before – planking every day will help you strengthen and tighten your core. And really, your core is called such because it is the “core” of your whole body. If you’ve ever pulled or strained a muscle in your back or stomach, you know what I mean. Coughing or sneezing with sore abs makes me want to cry.
But just planking every day can be so BORING!! So my gift to you is a list of 27 different plank variations to help you beat that boredom and tighten that tummy! Here they are:
- High Plank – This is one of the basic positions. Tighten your whole body, keep your neck and spine in neutral alignment (don’t look down at your feet or allow your head/hips/back/legs to sag), and keep your shoulders/elbows/and wrists in alignment as well. Pull your bellybutton in and hold your body straight for a minute (or more).
- Low Plank – Another basic position. Same setup as the high plank, but rest your forearms on the floor instead of your hands. You can hold your hands together or you can place them in a “Sphinx” position with arms straight out in front of you. Keep your elbows directly under your shoulders. This is a better position for someone with a wrist injury.
- Knee Plank – The only difference between this and planking on your toes, is that you drop your knees straight down to the ground under you. It makes planking easier, because you are supporting less of your body weight. There is less pressure on the lower back in this position. Notice that my hips are not in the air, and there is still a straight line going from my head to spine to hips to knees. You can do this variation in either high or low position.
- Plank with Knee Taps – In high or low position, lower the knees down simultaneously to tap the ground, then raise them back up to your starting position. You can do the inverse of this move – knee plank with straightening the legs briefly, then lowering down again – to build strength as you graduate from knee plank to full high or low plank.
- Plank with Alternating Knee Taps – Similar to #4, but tap only one knee down at a time.
- Rock & Roll – This can be done in high or low position, shifting your body weight forward and back. Feel those shoulders burn!
- Plank Punches – In high or low position, punch your arms straight out, alternating sides. Keep your body straight and don’t let it rock. You can punch out to the front or punch to the sides. (Hint: Spreading your feet wider on the floor will give you a wider base of support and keep your body more balanced and stable.)
- Reverse Plank – Same as high position, only flipped over! Heels on the ground, wrists and elbows in line with your shoulders. Don’t let your booty drop down! Keep everything in alignment, and keep a fist-sized space between your chin and your chest.
- Reverse with Knee Lift – Here we go with balance again! In reverse position, raise one bent leg up to a 90 degree angle, knee coming toward your chest. CRUNCH those abs, then lower that leg back to start. Repeat on the other side.
- Plank Walk – Your focus here is keeping your whole body tight and allow for as little movement as possible. Pretend you have a glass of water on your back and you don’t want to spill it. Take your right hand and foot out to the side, then bring your left hand and foot in to finish the movement. Then go in the other direction. This can be done on the knees, with knees staying in one place and only the hands “walking” side to side.
- Plank Hop – In high or low position, keep the legs zipped together and hop the feet from side to side. Try to keep your body as straight as possible throughout the movement. This isn’t a very far hop, traveling just a few inches from side to side.
- Plank Jacks – In high or low position, open the feet wide and bring them back together as with a jumping jack movement. Keep the body stiff and straight, and don’t let the hips sag. There shouldn’t be a lot of up and down movement with the hips here.
- Plank Hand Tap – Another variation for high or low position, reach one hand out in front and tap the floor, then return to start. Want to make it even harder? Hold that hand out in the tap for 1-3 seconds before pulling it back in. Ohhh the burn.
- High/Low Plank – As the name says, alternate between high and low position. You can do a certain number of reps starting with one side, then switch to the other side. Or you can alternate leading with the right/left/right/left. This can also be done on the knees.
- Up/Down Plank – Similar to the high/low version, but using a bench to get farther off the floor.
- Plank with Leg Lifts – In high or low position, contract the glute to raise one leg off the floor for a second or two, then lower back down. Be careful not to let your hips rock or twist as you balance. If doing this movement on the knees, simply straighten and lift one leg and then lower back down to start.
- Oblique Knee – In high or low position, bring one knee to the same side elbow with a big crunch. Return to start. Keep back flat and stable.
- Knee Cross Under Body – In high position, contract the abs and crunch a knee under the body toward the opposite side. It’s easy for hips to make their way higher into the air with this move, so keep them down and keep your body in alignment.
- Side Plank – Rotate your body so that your weight is resting on one hand (or forearm) and the blade of your bottom foot. You can stack your feet on top of each other, or you can put them both on the ground side by side. Keep the head/spine/hips/feet in alignment. This really works your obliques. If you need more support, bend the bottom leg and lower your knee to the floor. Keep your body in alignment as if in full side plank.
- Hip Drops – In side position, lower your hip close to the ground (don’t drop it all the way to the floor!) and contract your abs to straighten back up to start.
- Renegade Row – In high position with hands on dumbbells (Be safe! Use weights with a flat side on the head, not round ones!!), row one dumbbell back at a time. Keep feet wide to balance yourself and don’t allow your body to twist.
- Weighted Side Plank Twists – In high position with hands on dumbbells, rotate body into side plank and raise weight straight over your body. Lower back down to start and repeat on the other side.
- Thread the Needle – In side plank, hold a dumbbell straight up in the air, then lower it and reach it under your body. Return weight to start position to complete the move.
- Plank Pulse – In high or low position, contract the abs to pull the pelvis up toward your bellybutton. Release the contraction and return to normal. Yes, this feels weird. And if you have a dirty mind, you might giggle when you do it. But it works, I promise.
- Plank Hip Drop – In high or low position, rotate the hip area so that one hip drops toward the floor, then repeat on the other side. This is great for…well…everything. Keep control of the movement and don’t go too fast.
- Plank Oblique Crunch – Like the pulse variation, this one is a very subtle movement. It is different from the hip drop in that you aren’t actually dropping your hips, but you are pulling the side of the hip up towards the bottom of the ribcage in a tight oblique crunch, then repeating on the other side. Your body moves very little, but your obliques will feel it very much.
- Bird Dog Plank Balance – This isn’t quite a bird dog position, as we are not on our hands and knees. But in high or low plank, reach one arm and the opposite leg out and off the ground, then return to start. Repeat on the other side. This is a more advanced move and requires a LOT of control and balance. As you can see in the video, I was pretty wobbly myself. Practice with just arms or just legs first, and build up strength and balance until you are able to do both.
Do you have a favorite plank position, whether it is listed here or not? Comment below and let me know! I’d love to try out a new one!