7 Plank Variations To Strengthen Your Core
Your core is your powerhouse and the key to overall fitness. A strong and stable core can improve your balance, better posture, and even reduce back pain. Training your core will also help prevent injury and enhance performance in your daily activities, whether you are exercising, standing in the kitchen cooking, or sitting down at work.
When people think of core, the first thing that comes to mind is abs. Even though abdominals are the base of your core, your core also consists other muscle groups like low back and hip. Since various combinations of these muscles are involved in many different exercises, you don’t have to target just one specific area, like sit-ups. To strengthen your core, the most efficient exercises are the ones that work on the entire muscle group at once, such as the plank pose.
Below are 7 plank variations to build core strength that you can easily do at home. Practice holding each move for 30 seconds at a time, adding 15 seconds each time you level up. When it comes to plank, good form is crucial to protecting your body from injury.
1) Standard/High Plank
The plank is one of the best exercises because it works multiple muscle groups like glutes and hamstrings, supporting proper posture and improves balance. Holding the plank position requires strength and endurance in your abs, back, and core, engaging your entire body.
2) Knee Plank
If holding a basic plank is too difficult and you’re putting too much pressure on your arms, lower down to your knees and lower your forearms down. This variation makes your core work while minimizing the risk of getting wrist injury. Upper body stays the same as if you were in a high plank - keep your back straight and core tight. Practice holding it until you can work up to a standard high plank.
3) Forearm Plank
Start from high plank position, lower yourself until you are resting on your forearms. Parallel your forearms to each other with hands flat or clasped together. Always be sure you keep your back straight and core tight.
4) Plank Hip Dips
From forearm plank, slowly dip both hips to the right side and hold for two seconds. Tilt your hips as low as you can go without touching the floor. Lift back up to forearm plank and repeat on the other side. This motion will tighten your oblique muscles resulting in stronger core muscles.
5) Plank Shoulder Taps
This plank variation adds a bit more challenge to your balance and core control. Avoid rocking your hips and body from side to side while you tap your hand to your opposite shoulder. The only motion that should be happening is your arm and hand.
6) Rocking Plank
From high plank, shift your body forward on your toes until your shoulders move past your hands. Hold and rock backward until your heels extend beyond your toes. Move slowly and steadily to challenge your balance, coordination and shoulder strength.
7) Side Plank
Start in a standard plank position, bring your legs together with both heels touching each other. Lean to left/right side while lifting your opposite arm up toward the ceiling until you are balanced on one hand. Use your hips to lift upwards while you lean back slightly to align your body. Hold and switch sides and repeat.