The plank is one of the most familiar and effective choices for core work. Forearm plank, side plank, plank with hip dips—all are favorites of exercisers. But how many times can you do that same old plank? Fortunately, with a little creativity, a basic plank can be amazingly versatile. Just add simple movements and a little resistance to make an already challenging move even more interesting and effective.
Stephanie Vlach, MS, a fitness professional, freelance writer, and physical education, fitness and sports studies instructor at the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, describes some plank variations below. These options are best for people who can hold a plank with good form for at least a minute.
Rocking Forearm Plank/Plank Pushup
- Start in forearm plank, elbows and shoulders in line, feet aligned with hips, shoulders locked down and back, spine in line from head to tailbone.
- Push forward off balls of feet and rock shoulders forward.
- At top of movement, contract core and rock back to start. Repeat.
- Progression: Continue rocking shoulders forward and bend elbows until chest is close to floor. Do full plank pushup to further activate chest and triceps. Do not let chest “fall through” between shoulders.
Plank Hand Taps
- Start in traditional plank. Position fingertips near top of mat.
- Use top corners of mat as a guide and remain in “straight as a board” position. Contract core and tap right hand near right-side corner of mat.
- Bring R hand back to start.
- Repeat movement, left side; alternate.
- Regression: Perform from knees or forearms.
- Progression: Add resistance by placing looped exercise band above wrists. Each diagonal or lateral movement works deltoids.
Plank Straddle Walks
- Start in either traditional or forearm plank.
- Maintaining proper form, step R foot to side, then L foot. Use edge or outside of mat as distance guideline.
- Bring R foot in, followed by L foot. Repeat with same lead leg or alternate legs.
- Regression: Reduce straddle width.
- Progression: Loop band around ankles to target abductors.
Superman to Forearm Plank
- Start face down on mat. Lift into Superman position, keeping arms in line with ears, legs extended, heels lifted.
- Bring arms into forearm plank, line up feet with hips and turn toes under.
- Draw belly toward spine; push up into forearm plank.
- Lower yourself to floor and repeat Superman. Repeat until desired repetitions are completed.
- Regression: Perform from knees.
- Progression: From Superman, push up into traditional plank and do chaturanga (from yoga) prior to moving back into Superman.