I am sure you have all heard of a Plank at some point in your fitness journey and the benefits that they have not only on your abs but your arms, legs, shoulders and your entire core!
I use plank-based movements not only in every one of my client’s programs but my own personal program, as they help to build that foundation for total body strength. With a plank you are not only isolating a single muscle group, you’re recruiting multiple muscle groups in different ways that is more functional and mimicking real life movements.
Here are my personal top 5 plank variations to spice up any fitness routine! Try adding 1 or 2 into your workout program the nice thing about planks is that they fit perfectly into a total body circuit training program.
1. Plank Hip Dips
Set Up: Start in a low plank position on your forearms making sure your elbow are below your shoulders. Squeeze your glutes keep your core tight and slowly dip both hips to the right side. Go down as far as is comfortable without touching the floor. Lift back up to a plank position and repeat on the other side.
2. TRX Plank with adduction/abduction
Set Up: Kneel facing away from the TRX. Reach behind you and place your feet in the stirrups. Plant hands shoulder width apart on the floor and lift knees, straightening into a high plank position making sure your hands and elbows are under your shoulders. Engage the core and move your legs away from each other as much as possible then slowly bring them back together.
3. Plank Jack
Set Up: Start in a high plank position with legs together. Jump your feet out as if you were doing a horizontal jumping jack. Jump both feet back together. Modification: Rather than jumping your legs out you can modify this exercise by walking your legs out one at a time.
4. Around the World
Set Up: Start in a high plank position making sure your hands are directly under your shoulders and feet are hip width apart. Brace yourself making sure your abdominals are tight start by lifting one limb at a time. Lift first arm, second arm, second leg, first leg traveling “around the world” trying to keep the body from shifting over to one shoulder or hip as you remove the fourth point of contact from the floor.
As you can see there are many different ways to spice up your plank game in your fitness routine so you will never get bored. Along with many different varieties of planks there are also many different ways to incorporate them into your fitness program like mentioned above as part of a total body circuit or you can also try these 2 other ways to incorporate planks.
5. Low plank with single leg lift
Set Up: Start in a low plank position. Lift one leg up behind you, keeping your body flat and both the extended and supporting legs straight. Repeat on the other side.
Do a plank challenge
Your competition? Yourself! This is where you hold a plank for as long as you can and time it. It doesn’t matter what kind of plank you are doing as long as you are practicing proper form. Monitor your progress each week — even 1 second longer is progress!
Plank as part of your warmup
Doing a plank to warm up your core before a workout is a good idea. However, you don’t want to completely exhaust your core as it still needs to be strong and ready to support other movements during your workout. In this case I really like adding planks for shorter durations and or reps.