If you’re a fan of strength and conditioning exercises, you would have heard of the almighty plank. There is a popular saying that getting into a 1-minute plank is definitely a tough time to be in. While this may be true to the majority of the population and people living a sedentary life, incorporating these 8 planking exercises will help you build a strong core that will separate you from the crowd.
What Is The Plank?
Planking is one of the most famous static training exercises, mainly targeting the core muscles and the shoulders and arms as secondary. If you are new to planking, you may find it working your leg muscles as well. The reason for the name plank is that when performing this exercise, you straighten the whole body, similar to a wood plank. It is usually performed by laying on the floor in a push-up position for a period, with arms straight or your forearms being in contact with the floor.
Planking is a great exercise to work your stability, balance, and core muscles, which is helpful when bracing to perform heavy compound movements like the squat and deadlift and maintain the stability of your trunk when doing athletic movements such as throwing, rotating, and swinging.
Planking Exercises To Build A Strong Core
The plank can be performed with different variations. Every variation works the core but with distinct emphasis. Below are different variations of the plank exercise that will help you build a strong core, even if you are a beginner or an advanced fitness enthusiast.
1) Regular Plank
First, it is important to get used to the regular planking position before trying the other difficult planking variations. The regular plank works the core, arms, and leg muscles, including the glutes if you are a beginner.
To do a regular plank, start by going down the floor as if you are about to perform a push-up. Lower your elbows to make sure that your forearms are in contact with the ground. You can hold your hands together throughout the movement to add a bit of stability to the arms. Straighten your back and legs, squeeze your glutes, and keep your feet together to make sure your body is tight. Do it for about 30 secs if you are a beginner and then gradually increase over time.
2) Side Plank
The side plank is an excellent exercise to target your obliques. This plank variation is a good way to strengthen your left or right oblique if you have muscle imbalances.
To perform the side plank, lie down on your left or right side. Make sure your legs are straight and put the other on top. Straighten your elbows underneath your armpit for a strong base. Lift your body up on one side, squeeze your glutes and engage your core. Remember that your body must be in a straight line when performing this exercise. Do this for a period of time and repeat on the other side.
3) One-legged Plank
The one-legged plank is a planking variation that will test your balance. This exercise will push your core muscles to exert more effort to stabilize the body due to the unstable position resulting in more contraction.
To perform the one-legged plank, start in a regular planking position with your elbow in contact with the ground directly below your shoulders. Straighten your body, engage your core, and squeeze your glutes. Lift one of your legs up. Hold this position for about 30-60 on each leg.
4) Plank Jack
The plank jack is a planking exercise with a mix of jumping jacks. This is a good way to burn extra calories while challenging the core from the plank.
To do the plank jack, begin with the straightened arm planking position, similar to the top position of a push-up. Keep your feet together and the body straight. Explosively move your legs and feet wider than shoulder-width, then bring it back together just like doing a jumping jack, but this time in a planking position. Do it about 20-50 times in a single set to feel the burn that this exercise offers.
5) Weighted Plank
The weighted plank is a good way to overload the core. This exercise will help you build a stronger core that will protect the spine to avoid injuries during heavy compound lifts.
This exercise is similar to the regular weighted plank. The only difference is that there is a weight placed on your back while doing the exercise. The problem people encounter while doing this exercise is how you will place a plate at your back if you are working out by yourself. To safely place the plate at your back, start in a kneeling position, and then put the plate in the middle of your back. Slowly go down to the regular plank position, starting with placing the elbows and straightening the legs.
6) Side Plank Snatch
The side plank snatch is an advanced variation of the plank. It is done by going into the side plank position and then doing a snatch with a dumbbell.
To perform the side plank snatch, start in the side plank position. Place the dumbbell underneath your armpit. After stabilizing the position with your elbows straight and body in a straight line, explosively snatch the dumbbell up and slowly lower by bending your elbow. Repeat about 10 times on each side.
7) Side Plank Crunches
The side plank crunch is two exercises performed as one. It is a combination of the side plank and crunches. This challenging exercise is an excellent way to work the core muscles.
To perform the side plank crunches, begin by doing a regular side plank. Place the opposite hand overhead and slowly lower your elbow down as you bend your top leg, with both meeting in the oblique area.
8) Straight Arm Plank With Shoulder Tap
This exercise is a good way to spice up the regular straight arm plank. Forcing the arms and core to work more to stabilize the position as you tap the shoulder alternatively. To perform this exercise, start by doing a straight arm plank. Alternatively, tap your left shoulder as your right arm is straightly posed on the ground.
The plank is a good way to strengthen your core, not only that, as the whole body is at work when doing this exercise. There are many ways to perform the plank exercise. You should not only be doing the regular plank repeatedly, as it can leave you uninterested in working your core. It is essential to try the other plank variation to work on your strength and muscle imbalances.
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