This Killer Plank Workout Brings Real Results With Next Level Exercises
The first time you ever tried to train your abs was probably as a child and you probably did a regular sit up as well.
Everyone knows sit ups. It’s a classic. But does that make it effective? Not really. Sit ups are too basic for a muscle group as complex as your core.
Planks are where it’s at. Just look at all the areas of the body that are involved in a standard plank position:
- Transverse Abdominus (This is a deep part of your ab muscles which assist the spine)
The benefits of doing planks are similar to any other bodyweight exercise in that you can do them almost anywhere and any time. You don’t need special equipment and they’re challenging enough for beginners.
Speaking of beginners, once you’ve been doing planks for any period of time, you’ll quickly notice that they don’t seem to pack a punch anymore. This is when you need to get a little creative and make the plank challenging again.
Luckily for you, below is a list of 11 different plank exercises to take you from beginner to advanced. Progression is the name of the game when it comes to fitness. Your body is very efficient and adapts to everything you can throw at it.
Your goal is to eventually progress through all of these exercises as you improve with each plank workout.
This is the easiest variation of all. Get into a push up position with your weight resting on your hands and feet. While making sure to keep your body in a straight line, hold this position for 30 seconds or longer.
Lateral Arm Raise Plank
As the name implies, you’ll start in the push up position and lift your left arm out to the side of your body so that it’s parallel to the floor and forming a 90 degree angle with your body.
Keep this position for 2 seconds and alternate with the other arm. Keep alternating like this for 30 seconds.
This is similar to the exercise described above but instead of laterally raising your arm, you’ll lift your left arm and point it in front of yourself so that it’s parallel to the ground and you look like Superman when he’s flying. Hold for 2 seconds again and alternate between arms for 30 seconds.
This exercise is the traditional plank where your weight is resting on your forearms and toes and your forearms are in line with your body. Hold this position for 30 seconds while keeping your spine nice and straight.
This may look a little weird but it works really well and should definitely be a part of any plank workout. It’s called the crab plank because you’re going to walking sideways like a crab.
Get into the push up plank position and take 2 steps to the right by ‘walking’ with right hand and left foot.
Take a step and continue the ‘walking’ with your left hand and right foot. That makes one step. Do another one and repeat on the other side for 30 seconds total.
Classic To Push Up Plank
Get into the classic plank position with your forearms on the ground. From here, slowly lift yourself into a push up position and maintain a straight back. Lower yourself back into the classic plank with forearms touching the ground. Repeat for 30 seconds.
What’s with all the super hero names? No idea. In this exercise you start in the push up position and alternate between bringing your right knee to your right elbow and vice versa. Hold each position for 2 seconds and continue alternating for 30 seconds.
Push Up Leg Lift Plank
Start off in the push up plank position. Here you will be alternating between lifting your straight left leg behind yourself so that it lifts off the ground about a foot to a foot and a half.
Focus on using your butt muscles to help lift your leg. Repeat for the other leg and keep alternating for the 30 second duration.
Two Point Plank
This is the combination of the Superman plank and the leg lift plank described above. Start in the push up plank position and simultaneously lift your left leg back about 12-18 inches off the ground while raising your right arm and keeping it parallel to the ground and pointed ahead like Superman does.
Hold for 2 seconds and repeat on the opposite side. Continue this for 30 seconds.
Classic Leg Lift Plank
Exactly the same as the push up leg lift plank but instead of starting in the push up position you start in the classic plank position with your weight resting on your forearms and toes.
Classic Two Point Plank
Also the same as the previous two point plank but you’ll start on your forearms instead of the push up position. Hold each leg lift for 2 seconds and alternate between legs for a 30 second duration.
Frequently Asked Plank Questions
Below is a list of the most common questions asked relating to plank exercises. Read through all of them and you shouldn’t have any questions after that.
How Long Should Each Plank Be Held?
There’s no definite answer when it comes to hold duration because everyone has a different level of fitness and core strength. As a beginner I recommend 30 seconds for each hold and slowly working your way up to 60 seconds as your conditioning improves.
How Many Sets Should I Do?
Ideally you want to do all of these exercises as one super plank workout so doing 1 set per exercise is enough when you’re first starting out. If you find this is too easy or you’re adapting really well, feel free to bump it up to 2 or 3 sets per exercise.
I Can’t Do All Of These Plank Exercises. What Now?
Don’t stress about it. Really. This isn’t written in stone. When it comes to fitness, the number one rule is to do what works for you. If you don’t like an exercise or can’t do it just yet for whatever reason, just leave it and do the other plank exercises.
As you advance, you may find that you’re able to do the exercises you once couldn’t do. Slow and steady wins the race.
Do I Have To Do These Planks In Order?
In one word, no. However, it’s recommended that you do follow the order of these exercises because they’ve actually been listed in order of difficulty with the easiest exercises at the top and the harder ones at the bottom.
The benefit of going from easy to difficult is that it primes your body the same way regular warm ups do. So you don’t have to follow the order but there really isn’t a need to do otherwise.
How Often Can I Do This Plank Workout?
How often abs in general can be trained is always a hot topic. My personal opinion is that abs can be trained 3 or 4 times a week on non-consecutive days.
If you’re doing them on days where you do other heavy lifting then definitely do them at the end of that workout so you don’t negatively impact your other lifts.