5 Fun Plank Variations​ To Challenge Your Core

Planks are one of my favorite exercises! 

I know you’re totally rolling your eyes right now, but it’s true. Planks are a great way to get a fullbody workout. They are perfect to help you build isometric muscles and can even improve your posture. Plus planks are so versatile that you won’t get bored. You can do planks on the floor, with weights, on a reformer, with a ball or even add in a little cardio. 😉 Just what you want right? I’m still kinda giggling from when I taught a circuit bootcamp class a few months ago and I taught an entire 7 minute circuit with all planks. I’m pretty sure everyone hated me during the circuit. 

Now even tho I’m obsessed with planks, I know not everyone is as in love or even knows how to properly plank. So I’m giving you a list of all my favorite plank variation to truly get a full-body workout within minutes. Before we get into some plank variations, I want to go over a few key tips for your form that you NEED to know. 

  1. Keep your shoulders right over your wrists or elbows if you’re in a forearm plank. This will activate those shoulders and help you get out of your wrists. 
  2. To protect your back by slightly tucking your tailbone, this will also help you from arching your back and dropping your belly down or deactivating your core.
  3. Keep your ears pulling up to the ceiling to help keep the back of your neck long

Now keeping those tips in mind, try these planks out! Attempt to do these for at least 30 seconds each, it should only take you 5 minutes. For the side plank 30 seconds each side.

Commandos:

Starting on your hands in a full plank, drop down to your right elbow then your left. Now you’re in a forearm plank, from their place your right hand back onto the floor then your left back into your full plank. Continues going down and up, but make sure you switch which arm is starting. The hard part is keeping your hips level and not moving then. The faster you go the more cardio this becomes. 

Carlie showing commandos.

Mountain Climbers

Most people know how to do these but they are such a great way to get a little cardio in while in a plank. While in a full plank you will draw one knee to your chest then step it back and switch legs. The faster you go the harder it is to do while keeping the correct form of your shoulders over wrist and your butt in line with your body. You can also add a little rotation to get into the obliques a little by drawing your knee to the opposite elbow. 

Side Plank:

Carlie holding a side plank. Wearing @Athleta pants and @ToeSox.

Start on your right side, you can either be on your right hand or on your forearm. The left hand can be on your hip or behind your head. Bring your top foot in front and lift your hips off the floor to get into your side plank. In this position you will hook your back toe under your front foot heel. You’re going to hold just a static plank for 30-60 seconds. 

If holding this plank is too challenging take your top leg and bend the knee to step your foot onto the floor in front of you. Now you can press down with your heel to help you keep your hips up. (I prefer this modification over going down onto your knees as I find it keeps your obliques more active.) If you need more of a challenge you can try stacking your legs giving you less stability and making your core work a little harder. Another option is to lift your top leg and hold it in the air. 😉 

Single leg balance:

While in your plank either on your hands or forearms you’re going to focus on keeping your upper body and hips completely still. Slowly start to lift your right leg off the floor about hip height and hold for 5 second then set your foot down and switch to your left leg. You can increase the challenge by reaching the opposite arm long in front of you as you lift your leg up.

Hip Dips Side-to-Side:

Holding a forearm or full plank, dip your right hip towards the floor then exhale and lift your hips back to center before dipping your left hip down. While doing this try to keep your shoulders stable and only move through the lower half really using your obliques to make the twist. 

Carlie doing hip dips side-to-side while in a forearm plank.

Planks are truly one of the best exercises for core conditioning, while also working your lower back, glutes, hamstrings and improving posture. All great reasons to hop into a plank right now. Try out these 5 planks and let me know how you feel. Can you do all of these plank variations for 30 seconds back to back without a break?

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