12 Types of Plank Exercises

Medically Reviewed on 1/20/2021

A plank exercise is a form of core strengthening exercise.
A plank exercise is a form of core strengthening exercise.

A plank exercise is a form of core strengthening exercise. This exercise strengthens the body muscles, maintain our posture, and support our spine. Some types of planks also help increase your endurance.

There are stationary planks as well as power-packed moving planks, such as mountain climbers. You will come across several variations of the plank. Though the basic plank may allure you, we suggest you perform different types of plank exercises. This will depend on what other kinds of physical activities or exercises you do. The variety in planks will not only add spice to your workouts but will also motivate you to make plank a daily part of your exercise routine.

We suggest doing each type for about 15-30 seconds and increasing the time gradually to 2 minutes.

Here are the 12 types of the many planks that you can mix and match and perform on alternate days:

1. Basic plank (high plank):

When you are attempting planks for the first time, ideally you should start with a simple plank. The simple plank is known by various names:

  • Basic plank
  • Regular plank
  • Traditional plank
  • Standard plank
  • Classic plank

Go on all fours in a table-top position with your face down. Make sure your hands are directly below your shoulders.

Start lifting your knees slowly until you’re supporting your weight on just your toes and hands. This can also be called a plank in the push-up position.

Your body should be in a straight line from the top of your head down to your heels. Your core should be tight (pulled towards the spine) and your back should be straight. Do not let your core sag or your back to become round.

2. Elbow plank:

The elbow plank is harder on the abs than the basic plank. It pushes more strain on your abs.

Rest your body on your bent forearms and straightened knees.

Pushing off the floor, raising your legs onto your toes, and resting mainly on your elbows.

Tuck your tummy in and prevent it from sagging down. Keep your back straight preventing it from curling. Imagine yourself looking like a plank.

Hold this position for as long as you can. Aim for 30 seconds in the beginning and work your way up to 1 minute over the next few days.

Elbow plank and basic plank is one of the starting points for all the other plank exercises.

3. Knee plank:

If you cannot stay for long in a basic plank, just put your knees down and hold your core tight as long as you can. Repeat this several times.

4. Side plank:

The side plank is a great exercise for strengthening the oblique abdominal muscles.

Start in a standard plank position. Bring legs together until your heels touch. Turn towards your left and lean on that side. At the same time, try lifting your right arm towards the ceiling until you are balanced on one hand. Repeat on the other side.

5. Plank-walk down (climbing plank):

This kind of plank not only strengthens your core and your back but also your biceps.

Get on the position of elbow plank.

Lift your right arm first followed by the left arm and go into the basic plank position. Then from here, go back to the starting (elbow plank) position. Do this as fast as you can.

Make sure you maintain your core tight and straight back throughout this workout.

6. Side-to-side plank (plank with hip twists):

This kind of plank helps improve the strength of your back muscles, buttocks, and hips.

Start in the basic plank position.

Twist the pelvis on the right side so that the right-sided hip touches the floor. Repeat the same for the left side. Try to do these movements as fast as you can.

7. Plank jacks (plank open and close):

This plank tones the buttocks, hips, calves, and back muscles.

Get on the basic plank or elbow plank position.

Bring your legs together and do jumps from side to side as you do for jumping jacks.

Make sure you still have your tummy tucked in and your spine straight. Do not raise your hips too high while doing this.

8. Plank with arm up:

Get into the position of a basic plank or elbow plank.

Slowly lift one arm. Hold this position.

Repeat for the other arm.

9. with leg lift:

Go into the basic plank or elbow plank position.

Lift your right leg without bending your knees up and hold it for a few seconds. Put it down.

Repeat this for the other leg.

10. Side plank knee-to-elbow (plank with alternating side leg):

Go down into any of the plank position, elbow plank or the basic plank. 

Bending the knee, bring your left knee to your right elbow. Maintain a tight core and flat back throughout.

Pause for a while and slowly return to the starting point.

Repeat with the right knee and keep alternating.

11. Walking plank:

Walking plank targets the core as well as the upper body. This plank move is walking sideways in the plank position.

Begin with the basic plank position. Keeping a tight core and a straight spine, take the right hand to the left side followed by the right leg. Then, take the left hand till it joins the right hand followed by the right leg joining the left leg.

12. Mountain climbers:

Mountain climber is not only a core-strengthening exercise but also a form of cardio. An intense form of the plank exercise, mountain climbers are great calorie-busters.

Get into a plank position. Make sure your arms are shoulder-width apart, your tummy is tucked in, and the spine is straight.

Bring your right knee towards your chest as near as you can. Push it back to its original position while bringing the left knee towards your chest. The exercise looks as if you are climbing a mountain and hence, the name.

Keep performing these moves as fast as you can.

Is it safe to perform all types of plank exercises?

Well, it depends on your tolerance level as well as on your nutrition. Some of the plank exercises are more advanced. So, judge yourself initially by observing if the exercises suit you. Performing exercises with a faulty technique may result in muscle or joint injuries. In case of any concern or queries, it is better to ask a fitness expert. Always remember to consume sufficient protein and plenty of water in between. You can consider consulting your physician before starting any new workout program.

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Medically Reviewed on 1/20/2021
References
Gerard J. Reality Check: Are Planks Really the Best Core Exercise? American Council on Exercise. https://www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/professional/prosource/february-2014/3680/reality-check-are-planks-really-the-best-core-exercise/

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