How To Do The Ladder Plank Properly

Of all the variations of the plank, the ladder plank has to be one of the most challenging.

The basic plank itself is already very challenging but when you add hopping to it, you take the challenge to a whole new level, but you can rest assured it will deliver good results.

This movement primarily engages your core while also recruiting the muscles on your back, shoulder and arms.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Start in a high plank position, with your wrists stacked under your shoulders and your body straight from the shoulders to your ankles.
  • Position your feet at hip-width apart.
  • Hop your feet six inches towards the arms, and another six inches in front.
  • Then, jump them back to the starting position.
  • Do as many reps as you desire.

WHAT MUSCLES DOES THE LADDER PLANK WORK?

CORE

During the ladder plank, most of the heavy lifting is done by the muscles in your core. In particular, the obliques, rectus abdominis and transverse abdominis are used.

The inner and outer obliques on the sides of your abdomen work together to stabilize your body by holding your hips and ribs in alignment.

Your rectus abdominis and transverse abdominis stabilize your back muscles as you jump your feet in and out.

UPPER BODY

The upper body muscles that are recruited during this exercise are the trapezius, latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, pectorals, deltoids, serratus anterior, triceps and biceps.

LOWER BODY

In your lower body, the ladder plank engages your quads, glutes and hamstrings which help with hip extension and stabilization.

BENEFITS OF THE LADDER PLANK

CORE STRENGTH

This movement aims at increasing your core strength by strengthening the muscles in your core.

Strengthening your core stabilizes your body and prevents spinal and lower back injury.

ACTIVATES MULTIPLE MUSCLES

The ladder plank doesn’t just work your core: it works multiple muscles both in your upper and lower body to give you a full-body workout.

ALTERNATIVES TO THE LADDER PLANK

WALKING PLANK

Like the ladder plank, the walking plank tests your mobility and overall stability.

Walking sideways while in the plank position will strengthen your core, deltoids, quads, glutes, hamstrings and calves.

Steps:

  • Start by getting into the full plank, your hands under your shoulders.
  • Tighten your glutes and core for maximum stability.
  • Move to your side by moving your right foot and hand simultaneously.
  • Lift the left foot and left hand to meet at the center before getting back into the plank position.
  • Move five steps to your right, and another five to your left. This way, you’ll have completed one set.
  • Do 3-5 sets in one session, or as many as you can comfortably do in a minute.

PLANK WITH SHOULDER TAP

This movement also falls within the category of advanced planks that require a lot of stability and mobility to execute.

It works several muscle groups in your body, including your core, hip flexors, back, hamstrings, glutes and quads.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Get into the standard straight-arm plank position. Widen your stance for more stability if you need it.
  • Tighten your core, and then lift your left hand off the floor and touch your right shoulder.
  • Return your left hand to the floor.
  • Lift your right hand off the floor and touch your left shoulder.
  • Continue alternating the hands for about 30 seconds.

Avoid rotating your hips or shoulders during this exercise, because the goal is to keep your entire body aligned.

If you find this exercise too challenging, take a wider stance or start on your knees.

But if you want to increase the challenge, bring your feet together. This will put more tension in your muscles but it might make it more difficult to remain stable during the exercise.

REVERSE PLANK

This compound exercise targets multiple muscle groups, including the core, hamstrings, glutes, shoulders and triceps.

Instead of facing downward like you would in a standard plank, you position yourself on the ground with your stomach facing the ceiling.

Steps:

  • Sit on the floor, with both your legs extended in front.
  • Put your hands on the floor behind you, with your fingertips pointing towards your feet.
  • Tighten your core, glutes and arm muscles to raise your hips. Your body should form a straight line, from your shoulders to heels.
  • Ensure you draw your shoulders down.
  • Tuck your pelvis slightly so that you don’t dip your hips.
  • Hold this position for about 30 seconds or as long as you want provided you maintain the right form.

If you want to make it even more challenging, you can add a leg raise to it. This you will do by lifting one leg upwards as you keep your hips and upper body stable.

You can make it easier by placing both hands on an elevated surface such as a bench or step.

LADDER PLANK MISTAKES TO AVOID

LOOKING UP OR DOWN

Looking up or down during the ladder plank can make your body less stable, which puts it at risk of injury.

You should instead gaze towards the ground, with your neck in a neutral position. This will prevent discomfort on your neck muscles and stabilize the entire anterior chain.

SAGGING YOUR LOWER BACK

Your lower back should not sag or drop down while you are holding the plank position.

Tuck your pelvis slightly to bring your ribcage over it. This will give you more stability since it maximizes core muscle recruitment.

SINKING THE SHOULDERS

If you let your shoulder blades sink, you’ll be putting your shoulders under a lot of stress and destabilizing your trunk.

Instead, push through the ground and spread your shoulder blades to recruit the scapular stabilizers that keep your shoulders stable during the exercise.

TO SUM UP

A stronger core not only increases your athletic performance but also improves your posture and protects your spine from injury.

Now that you know how to do the ladder plank, why don’t you go get yourself some gorgeous abs!