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Forget the crunches; Plank it out

A few weeks ago, during a training session with a client, I was having him do plank up downs. After he finished a set he turned to me and said “Wow, there are so many different exercises you can do from a plank position!” His comment inspired me to write this post.

It’s important to always change up your workout routines and challenge yourself with new exercises. A plank is one of the best exercises you can do for your core. Planks can help with building core strength, reducing back pain, improving posture, and increasing flexibility. Different types of planks can also engage other muscle groups such as, arms, shoulders, back, hamstrings, and glutes. Below are 30 of my favorite plank variations, enjoy!

1. Standard High Plank

Make sure your joints are stacked so that your elbows and wrists are directly under your shoulders. Your body should make a straight line from your heels to the top of your head. Engage your core by pulling your bully button into the spine, squeeze your glutes, and continue to breathe normally.

2. Standard Low Plank

Place your forearms on the floor and make sure your elbows are directly beneath your shoulders. Only your forearms and toes should be touching the floor. Your body should be in a straight line from your shoulders to your feet, and remember to engage your core throughout the whole movement.

3. Knee Plank

This is a modification. If holding a regular plank is too difficult, try this exercise.

4. Side Plank

This can be done on your forearm or hand. Rotate your body to one side, and stack your legs on top of each other, hold this position. Repeat the exercise on the other side.

5.Body Saws

Place both feet on a glide, or you can use a towel or a paper plate if you do not have access to a glide. Starting in a standard low plank, shift your body as far forward as you can and then pull back, while maintaining a neutral position from your head to your feet. Do not pike up or bend your knees.

6. Plank Pike Ups

Starting in a plank position on your hands or forearms, tighten your abs and raise your hips as high as you can towards the ceiling. Lower back down to starting position and repeat.

7. Spiderman Plank

This can be performed starting in a high plank or a low plank. Draw one knee towards the same side outside elbow, return to the plank position, then repeat and alternate sides.

8. Plank with Crossover Knee Drives

Starting in a high plank or a low plank, draw your right knee to your left elbow, return to a plank position, and then draw your left knee to your right elbow. Continue to alternate both sides.

9. Plank Transfer

This can be done with a kettlebell or dumbbell. Begin in a high plank position, with a KB or DB placed just behind one of your hands. Reach across your body with the opposite hand, grab the weight, and transfer if to the other side of your body. Repeat while alternating sides. Try to keep your hips stabilized, and maintain a flat back.

10. Plank Hip Dips

From a standard low plank position, drop your right hip towards the floor, then lift back up to a plank and drop your left hip to the floor. Continue to alternate sides.

11. Plank with Shoulder Touches

Starting from a standard high plank position, reach your right hand to you left shoulder. Lower your hand back down, and repeat with your left hand touching your right shoulder. Stabilize your hips and don’t let them sway too much as you alternate your hands.

12. BOSU Plank

This can be done on the blue bubble side, or with the flat side facing up for more of a core challenge.

13. SB Plank

Place your forearms on the ball and your feet on the ground. Lift your chest off of the ball, so your upper body is supported by your forearms.

14. SA Plank (R + L)

Start in a standard low plank position. Slowly lift your right arm, extending it right out in front of you and hold. Keep your back flat, core tight, and resist the urge to tilt your hips. Repeat both sides.

15. SL Plank (R + L)

From a low plank position, lift one leg up straight behind you and hold, while keeping the rest of your body in neutral. Repeat both sides.

16. Reverse Plank

Sit on the floor with your legs extended. Put the palms of your hands on the floor, with your fingers pointing toward your feet. Lift your hips toward the ceiling, and maintain a straight line from your torso to your toes.

17. Reverse Plank with Leg Lifts

From a reverse plank position, alternate lifting legs straight out in front of you.

18. Walking Planks (forward, backward, sideways)

In a high plank position, walk both your arms and legs forward, backward, or laterally.

19. Plank Up Downs

Begin in a plank position on your forearms and toes, with your neck and spine in a neutral position. Push up with your right arm until it is fully extended, followed by your left arm, until you are in a pushup position. Then go back down one arm at a time to the initial plank position. Try to stabilize your hips throughout the movement by keeping your abs tight.

20. Side Plank Hip Dips

In a side plank position, lower your hips until they just touch the ground and then return to starting position.

21. Side Plank with Reach Under

Lie on your side with your bottom elbow on the floor and extend your top arm toward the ceiling. Reach the top arm under and past your hips, and then return it to starting position. Keep your torso straight throughout the movement.

22. Side Plank Crunches

Begin in a side plank. Lift the top leg, bend your knee and bring it forward to your top elbow. Extend your leg back out and repeat. Try to keep your body in a straight line and don’t lean forward or backward. Perform on both sides.

23. Renegade Rows

Place two dumbbells on the floor about shoulder-width apart. Start in the top phase of a pushup position with your hands on the weights. Row one weight up towards the side of your body, while balancing on the other hand and foot. Keep your elbow in as you row, and don’t let your hips sway too much. Switch sides and repeat.

24.Plank Jacks

Begin on your hands or forearms. Keep your core tight and your spine in neutral. Then jump your legs out wide and bring them back together just like a normal jumping jack. Arms remain stationary throughout the exercise.

25. Plank Rollout

Starting in a forearm plank with your arms on the stability ball and toes on the ground. Extend your arms forward to move the ball away from you, then pull back to starting position and repeat.

26.Bird Dog Plank

Begin in a high plank. Lift your right leg straight behind you and your left arm straight out in front of you. Then lift your left leg straight behind you and your right arm straight out in front of you. Continue to alternate. Engage your core to maintain balance.

27. Mountain Climbers

Starting on your hands and toes in a pushup position, make sure your wrists are stacked underneath your shoulders and elbows. Keep your spine in neutral by dropping your hips and keeping your abs tight. Drive your right knee forward, followed by the left knee. Continue to alternate.

28. Plank with Alternating Leg Lifts

Starting in a low or high plank position, lift right leg followed by the left, and continue to alternate.

29. Plank with Alternating Arm Reach

Starting in a high plank position, lift right arm followed by the left, and continue to alternate.

30. Plank Step Ups

Starting in a high plank position, move one hand at a time up onto a platform and then back down again. Repeat.

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