Forearm plank, side plank, plank with hip dips—all are group exercise favorites. The plank is one of the most familiar and effective choices for core work, and it’s an easy addition. However, how many times can you program 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.

The following variations are best for participants who can hold a plank with good form for at least a minute.

Rocking Forearm Plank/Plank Pushup

Rocking Forearm Plank and 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

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

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.

For one more exercise, see “A Core Collection of Plank Variations” from the March 2019 print edition of Fitness Journal. If you cannot access the full article and would like to, please contact the IDEA Inspired Service Team at 800-999-4332, ext. 7.

Stephanie Vlach, MS

Stephanie Vlach, MS, is a certified fitness professional with 17 years of experience. She has held numerous roles and positions within the industry. Currently, she is a group exercise instructor and freelance writer in the Chicago area. She can be reached at [email protected]

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