Doing the plank regularly offers extraordinary benefits. It builds your abdominal muscles, strengthens your core, improves your posture, makes you better at push-ups, and much more.
Luckily, you don’t have to plank for hours to enjoy these benefits. Planking for 1 to 3 minutes every day can give you noticeable results.
While the standard plank is incredibly effective, doing different plank variations will allow you to get rapid results. For instance, the side plank will build your oblique muscles faster than the standard plank. While the plank with leg lifts will build your glutes.
These plank variations will also add variety to your workouts. You and I know that doing the same exercises repeatedly can kill your motivation to exercise.
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If you’re a beginner, start with the easy plank variations and then advance to the more challenging ones as gain core strength.
Plank Variations for Abs and Killer Core Strength
Toe Tap Plank
You should be able to perform this exercise if you can hold the elbow plank for at least 10 seconds. Simply lift your foot to the side and then tap the floor with the toes before returning the foot to the starting position.
This leg movement will activate your lower back and glute muscles. Lifting your leg higher makes the exercise more effective.
Toe Tap Plank with Knee Tuck
Doing this move will activate your abs, oblique muscles, glutes, and lower back. Keep your shoulders, hips, and knees aligned in a straight line throughout to fully engage your core muscles.
Squeeze your abdominal muscles when tucking your knee in.
Side Plank Hip Raises
Side plank hip raises are excellent for building your oblique muscles. Make sure your elbow is directly below your shoulder. Keep the feet stacked on each other and slowly raise your hips as high as possible before slowly lowering them to starting position.
This plank variation is quite challenging because you have to support your body with one foot and one arm. It activates numerous muscles including shoulders, upper back, lower back, abs, glutes, and obliques.
Avoid sinking your hips as you lift your arm and foot off the floor. And keep your neck in its neutral position.
You’ve probably done this exercise before but you may have made a few mistakes. The first common mistake is bending the knees and sinking the hips. Your body should be aligned in a straight line.
The second mistake is lowering your head. Keep your neck in its neutral position throughout. Lastly, extend your shoulders by pulling your shoulder blades away from the spine.
Elbow Side Plank
Elbow side plank builds your oblique muscles. Keep your legs stacked on top of each other and the elbow directly below the shoulder.
Tighten your oblique muscles then raise your hips and hold that position.
Unlike the elbow plank, this variation builds your triceps. However, it doesn’t activate your abs as much as the elbow plank.
Keep your ab muscles tight throughout when doing this exercise.
Full Side Plank
This one also challenges your arm muscles. Don’t stack the legs if you lack balance, just place one foot in front of the other.
Your palm should be directly below the shoulder to avoid straining the shoulder joint.
Plank Jump Ins
This is my favorite plank variation because it builds abs while boosting cardiovascular endurance. Tuck your knees in as close to your chest as possible.
Lastly, tighten your butt muscles as you kick your feet back to prevent the hips from sinking.
Forearm Spiderman Plank
Very few plank variations simultaneously activate your ab and oblique muscles the way the forearm spiderman plank does.
Keep your back slightly curved and pull your knee as close to your upper arm as possible.
Plank Thigh Taps
Other than strengthening your core, plank thigh taps strengthen your arms and shoulders.
Keep your feet slightly apart and core muscles tight to prevent your hips from swinging from side to side.
Plank Arm Raises
Do you want to strengthen your shoulders and core at the same time? Then take advantage of this exercise!
Raise your arm until it’s parallel to the floor before lowering it. Pay close attention to proper body alignment when raising your arms.
Plank Jack Knee Tucks
This unique exercise will give you a good cardio workout while strengthening your arms, shoulders, core, and legs.
Perform it fast and avoid sinking your hips at any point as that may cause lower back pain.
Plank Cross Toe Touch
You’ll love this exercise if you sit all day because it will help loosen your hamstrings. Avoid bending your knees as that will reduce the hamstring engagement.
Plank cross toe touch also strengthens your arms and shoulders. Remember to control your motion when performing this exercise.
Elbow Plank with Arm Reach
Doing this exercise greatly challenges your core because most of the time you’re supporting the upper body with one arm.
Extend the arm forward until it’s straight before returning it to the floor.
If you’re beginner, this variation will be ideal for you. It’s easier than most plank variations because you only have to support the upper body.
Focus on keeping your abs tight to get the most out of this exercise.
Knee Side Plank
The knee side plank targets your oblique muscles. Keep your knees on top of each other and raise your hips high.
Avoid the common mistake of lowering your head – keep your neck in its neutral position.
Plank to Downward Dog
You’re probably familiar with the downward dog if you’ve ever practiced yoga. Combining the plank with this yoga pose will activate your triceps, shoulders, abs, hamstrings, and oblique muscles.
Plank Bird Dog
This is a harder variation of the superman plank. And it’s one of the most challenging plank variations on this list.
Don’t skip this exercise because it’s challenging – it’ll give you a full-body workout!
Side Plank Leg Swing
If you thought the side plank was hard, wait until you try this variation. Simply get in the side plank position, lift the top leg and then start swinging it back and forth.
Elbow Plank Leg Lifts
Elbow plank leg lifts are excellent for activating your lower back and glutes. Raise your foot as high as possible while keeping it straight.
Note that wearing ankle weights may double or quadruple muscle activation.
This exercise is similar to the one above, however, it’s an isometric exercise, meaning you have to keep one leg elevated for a certain duration before switching legs.
The single-leg plank mainly targets your lower back and abs.
This is one of the few plank variations that doesn’t activate your abs. However, it strengthens your core by activating your lower back and glutes.
It also strengthens your arms by contracting your triceps and stretching your biceps.
Inverse Plank Leg Raises
The inverse plank raises challenge your butt and lower back muscles. Keep the active foot straight and raise it as high as possible.
The supporting leg should also be straight and hips raised as high as possible.
Plank Shoulder Taps
Plank shoulder taps will make you better at push-ups because they strengthen your core, arms, and shoulders.
Keep your body aligned in a straight line and perform the shoulder taps as fast as possible.
Plank Shoulder Taps to Butt Kicks
This little-known exercise will not only strengthen your core and arms, but it’ll also improve your coordination.
Forearm Plank Pike Ups
Forearm plank pike ups will strengthen your shoulders. Avoid lowering your hips when you get back to the plank position.
Keep your legs straight when in the pike position to stretch your hamstrings.
Plank jacks will give you a good cardio workout and strengthen your core.
Don’t bounce your hips up and down – keep them as stable as possible. Perform this exercise fast to get the most out of it.
Forearm Plank Jacks
The only difference with the variation above is you will be resting your forearms on the floor.
Side Plank Rotation
This exercise mainly targets your oblique muscles. It’s more effective than the regular side plank because of the rotation movement.
Remember to tighten your abdominal muscles every time you bring your hand under the torso.
Plank to Lunge
Plank to lunge is an amazing movement because it strengthens your arms, legs, abs, lower back, and glutes.
It’s important to arch your back every time you rise to fully activate your lower back muscles.
Forearm Side Plank with Twist
Doing this unique exercise regularly will activate your oblique and shoulder muscles. Twist your torso until the upper elbow touches the floor.
Control your motion by performing the exercise slowly. Moving too fast makes the exercise less effective, or even worse, increases the risk of injury.
Plank Knee Tucks
Tucking your knees while in the plank position activates your abs more. Remember to tighten your abs every time you tuck your knee.
You can make this exercise more challenging by turning it into mountain climbers, where you tuck your knees as fast as possible in an alternating motion.
Plank Knee Tucks with Twist
This variation will allow you to activate your ab and oblique muscles. Every time you tuck your knee, twist it to the opposite side before returning it to starting position.
This is undeniably the best plank variation for building upper body strength. It activates your triceps, shoulders, abs, and oblique muscles.
Walk out with your hands as far as possible and then walk back to the plank position and repeat.
Knee Plank Arm Raises
Knee plank arm raises are ideal for beginners with a weak core. They activate your shoulders, arms, and ab muscles.
Raise your arm until it’s beside your head before lowering it. Hold a pair of light dumbbells to make this exercise more challenging.
Knee Plank Shoulder Taps
When doing this exercise, make sure your shoulders, hips, and knees are aligned in a straight line.
Tighten your ab muscles and then tap your shoulders as fast as possible.
Plank Hip Dips
Plank hip dips build your ab and oblique muscles. Simply lower your hips sideways until they tap the floor then bring them back to starting position and then lower them to the opposite side and keep alternating.
The rocking plank will engage your ab and shoulder muscles. Only your shoulders and ankles should be moving, the rest of your body should remain still.
Plank to Crouch
This unique exercise will strengthen your abs and shoulders. When in the crouch position, make sure your knees are bent at 90 degrees and they’re close to the floor.
Perform this exercise at a moderate pace and focus on maintaining proper form.
Alternating Side Plank
This side plank variation activates your obliques and ab muscles. Keep the oblique muscles on each side tight to prevent the hips from sinking.
Knee Plank Taps
Knee plank taps are very doable. Simply hold the elbow plank and then tap the floor with one knee. Once you tap, straighten the leg and tap with the opposite knee and keep alternating.
Frankly, there are many other plank variations. But the ones above are enough to build abs and strengthen your core.
If you’re not sure which plank variations to start with, take on this 28-day plank challenge. Even better, combine it with this home workout sequence to burn fat and build muscle while exercising for only 10 to 15 minutes a day.