10 plank variations you never thought of
You already know the plank is an awesome exercise to build core strength, injury-proof your back and sculpt definition in your abs.
Even better, you work your shoulders, back, glutes, legs, arms, all at once. (yep, every muscle group)
Let’s be honest.
For most of us, the plank (and it’s standard variations) are about as exciting as watching paint dry.
That’s why today, I’ll show you 10 plank variations you never thought of. Some of these moves are ones KV personally created. So it’s no wonder you never thought of them lol.
And by adding these variations into your routine… you’ll actually see progress. Plus get better ab sculpting results in half the time.
Note: Before you try any of these moves, you should be able to hold a regular bodyweight plank (with good form) for at least 60 seconds.
I’ve put these exercises in order from easiest to hardest (you’re welcome). So start at #1, ok?
10 plank variations you never thought of
Click on the Exercise Name for the pic and description
#1: Hard Style Plank
If there’s one variation of the plank you need to try – it’s this one. That’s why it’s first up. Lol.
Yes, it’s a basic move. However most people have never tried it and this will seriously kick your butt.
Once you get into plank position, you’re aiming for total body tension.
Here are the key coaching points:
- pull your elbows into your back pockets
- squeeze your glutes and brace your abs
- engage your quads, by imagining your pulling your knee cap to your hip socket
… now do all this at the same time.
And hold it for 30 seconds.
See. It’s fun.
You’ll be shaking like a leaf.
Possibly cursing my name, too.
That’s all normal.
#2: Cross Over Plank
Looks simple. But don’t be fooled.
Engage your glutes before you add in the side kick – that way, you’ll increase the time under tension and boost your calorie burn.
Please be conservative with your reps the first time you try this exercise. Take your time ok…Do 6-10 on each leg, for 2-3 sets. Rest for as long as necessary so your form stays solid.
#3: Superman Planks
Brace your core and squeeze your glutes at the same time. (see the recurring theme here?). OK good, you got it! Next..
Now, take both arms off the ground at the same time…
Don’t try that unless you want to break your face. And that’s not something I recommend.
Extend one arm out in a straight line, keeping your body aligned and braced the entire time. Alternate arms. Try 6-10 reps on each arm, for 2-3 sets. Again good form trumps speed, so focus on quality movement and do less reps if necessary.
#4: Rotating Planks
I love this exercise! It’s super effective for integrating your core, glutes and obliques so you can move efficiently and burn more calories in your workouts.
Here’s how it works:
Start in plank position. Rotate your hips, shoulders, and feet while raising your right arm so that you shift your weight onto your left hand. As you rotate, straighten your right arm up towards the ceiling. Rotate your body and arm back into the starting plank position. Repeat the rotating motion on the other side.
Go back and forth for 8-10 reps on each side.
Tip: as you rotate up into the T-position, squeeze your glutes and obliques tight to resist momentum. Now that’s how you build a strong core!
#5: Cross Spider Plank
Think spiderman plank meets cross body mountain climber… And boom… this 1-2 combo is a major ab burner! Seriously.
Tip: Make sure you keep your working foot off the ground ok…
Why? You increase the muscle time under tension, so you’ll burn more calories and tighten up your rectus abdominis and obliques at the same time.
Try 8-10 reps on each side and your abs will screaming ouch!
While it looks similar to the Walkout, the inchworm exercise is different. The focus of this move is activating and strengthening your deep core muscles, by moving your feet instead of your hands to get yourself into plank posiiotn. So…
Take slow, small steps. It’s very important. No need to rush.
If your hamstrings are super tight (like mine, lol), you’ll be limited in your range of motion. So before you attempt this move, foam roll the back of your legs then stretch your hamstrings.
You’ll also notice your range of motion will improve over time, if you practice and be consistent with it.
The next progression from here is the Hanging Leg Raise (KV’s favorite).
#7: Bird Dog Plank
Yes, this is advanced.
(Thanks Captain Obvious…)
Start in plank position. Then extend your right arm and left leg. At the same time. Key point here is that your hips remain stable and even transition from side to side.
If you can’t pull this off without your hips tilting… no dramas! Take it back a notch and work on bird/dog from a kneeling position. Or you could try raising one leg or one arm at a time. Like the Superman planks (exercise #3)
Another cool variation? The plank with the alternating toe touch.
#8: Stir The Pot
Now we’re getting down to the super challenging moves…
You ready for it?
Start in plank position on a stability ball… brace your abs and squeeze your glutes. Then you’ll simply move your forearms in a circular fashion maintaining a rock solid position the entire time. That means little or no movement in your hips, back or pelvis.
Widen your stance if you need to. On the other hand, you can narrow your stance if it’s too easy. Aim for 6-8 reps in each direction. Slow and controlled movement please.
#9: Plank on Stability Ball with Cross Body Mountain Climber
In this variation, you’ll be doing the “supercharged” version of the mountain climber to boost your burn!
Here’s how to do it:
Put your elbow on the stability ball and extend your legs behind you in a plank position. Take your right foot off the floor, and slowly drive your right knee up toward your left elbow, then lower it. That’s one rep. Repeat with the left leg, and continue alternating until you’ve done 10-15 reps with each leg.
New to this exercise? Start with your feet wide (just outside hip width). This will give you more stability so you can execute the move correctly.
#10: Plank on Stability Ball with Spiderman Climb
If you found most of these moves a cinch, then here’s a serious challenge for you.
You ready? Try this.
Start in push up position with your toes on the Stability Ball and arms completely straight. (that’s not the challenging part, by the way).
Here’s where it gets more awesomer…
Raise your right knee toward your right elbow then return to starting position. Squeeze your obliques hard. Repeat with the left leg, and continue alternating until you’ve done 8-10 reps with each leg.
Yep, it’s a hardcore exercise (pun intended!). But again, you’ll be working your upper body at the same time to sculpt your shoulders and arms. #bonus
There you have it.
The best plank variations to get you flat, sexy abs and a rock solid core in half the time.
If you want shrink your waistline and strengthen your abs with simple 9 minute bodyweight workouts you can do anywhere, then check this out:
Have an awesome day!