Plank workouts are an excellent way to get a full body workout from anywhere and there are a lot more variations than people realise!
Plank, if you’re low on time then planks are the way to go. These diverse exercises are perfect for core conditioning and toning whilst engaging many different muscles. They have a lot of variations and adaptations which makes them easy to integrate into an ongoing training program or you can use these to build strength on their own. Obviously, if you are looking for that washboard tummy you need to do a lot more than just planking (nutrition, cardio, strength etc) but planks will help you get into the deep core muscles and it all helps.
Importance of correct form
As this move engages a lot of muscle groups it stands to reason that they would be at a higher risk of tear or muscle injury if you regularly do this move incorrectly. The video below gives you the basics of the proper form for an elbow plank but these rules can be transferred to the other types as well. Also be sure not to lower or lift your head too much as it will strain your neck.
Types of plank and variations
This is the traditional plank (as shown above) and involves resting on your forearms. It targets the core abdominal muscles as well as; the back, quads, biceps and shoulder muscles.
Push Up Plank
Unlike the name suggest this plank is static but involves the beginning of a push-up position and therefore keeping straight arms. This moves more of the muscle focus to the arms and back muscles.
Side planks engage the obliques (the love handles) and the hip adductors which mean they are great for runners who are trying to reduce injury risk. They also work the abs, glutes and quads. Remember to spend the same amount of time on each side so you don’t end up with a weaker side. Similar to other planks they can be done by resting on the forearms (below) or by straightening the arms.
Variation: Dip the hips up and down to introduce side crunches into the plank to make it more advanced.
Plank with arm raise
Gets into the deeper core and chest muscles. This move is also great for giving the arms a of bit extra “Oompf”.
Plank with leg raise
You can raise from an elbow plank or a push-up plank, both work the deep lower abdominals further.
Alternating arm/ leg raise
Combining the leg and arm raise alternately works the muscles throughout the core and abdominals. This is a great variation for those looking to improve their balance and fast twitch muscles.
As previously stated you can incorporate planks into a training schedule. I like to turn them into dynamic HIIT workouts. Some of my current plank workouts are;
- 20 seconds elbow plank straight up into 20 seconds push up and then 20 seconds rest. Repeat 5 – 10 sets. *Total time 5 – 10 minutes*
- 30 seconds Alternating side plank (rotate between both side planks – while maintaining form), 30 seconds rest. Repeat 10 sets *Total time 10 minutes*
- 20 second Alternating leg/arm raise side 1, 20 second Alternating leg/arm raise side 2, 20 second push up plank, 60 seconds rest. Repeat 5 – 10 sets *Total time 10 – 20 minutes*
I also like to add the plank into my circuits as a static strength break from cardio moves. For example
- 10 burpees, 10 mountain climbers, 30 second push up plank, rest. Repeat 4 sets.
- 30 seconds elbow plank, 5 donkey kicks, 30 seconds push up plank, 5 mountain climbers, rest. Repeat 4 sets.
Check out the Health & Fitness section for more workouts, tips and ideas! – If you found these useful why not share them with your friends! Get a group workout session going!