The plank is a great core stability exercise that hits not only your abs but your lower and upper back muscles as well as glutes. It engages stabilizer muscles and make them work which is great to build overall core strength that will help you in any workout. But the standard plank may be too easy for you and if you’re able to hold it for a few minutes at a time, it’s not giving you enough overload to do anything for you.
With that said, there are quite a few plank variations that make it so much harder to hold and that really hit your core. Today, we’ll look at the top 10 of our favorite plank variations to build those abs and a strong core. So without further ado, let’s begin.
To hold an uneven plank, start in the standard plank position (elbows and toes planted to the floor, back straight, core tense) but instead of using both elbows, lift one off the ground and put the hand in a push up position. This variation will hit the triceps too as you will effectively do an assisted push up hold, as well as destabilize your body to work the core more.
Plank Walk Up
This variation is performed by lifting yourself up off the elbows one arm at a time to a push up position. So to perform it, push yourself up alternating your hands, then lower yourself down by switching arms again. If you want to make it even harder, do a push up once you’re in the push up position.
Side Plank Quad Stretch
Side planks are great as it is but to make it just a little bit harder, stretch your quads of your free leg by bending it back at the knee with your free hand holding the leg back. Not only it will destabilize your body and hit your obliques but it will stretch those quads better since your lower back is not compensating with hyper-extension in this position.
While it may seem like the standard plank for the onlookers, the RKC (Russian kettlebell challenge) plank is actually a much harder variation. There are two differences to this plank – your elbows are a little further from your body and closer to each other, and you’re contracting your quads and glutes as hard as you can. These small changes are enough to destabilize your body and engage more muscles with higher intensity to hold that position.
Knee Tuck Plank
To hold this variation of the plank, start in the standard plank position and move one of your knees up to your chest. Really contract your abs while holding this plank. Like the lifted leg plank it sets off your balance but it also works your abs more as you focus on contraction.
The most straightforward variation to make the standard plank harder is to add weight on your back, be it a backpack or weight plates. You can choose the weight and intensity at will.
Reach out your arms and legs as far as you can to hold this plank. It really relies on the strength of your core the further you extend and it can be the most difficult plank you have ever done.
Bird Dog Plank
Perform the plank by raising your left leg and the right arm (or vise versa). It’s quite a difficult variation as you’re using just two limbs to hold the position and your core is really working to keep the balance.
Put your feet on a towel and drag them as you move with your arms in a plank position. This variation will engage your core stability in movement which is one of the main functions of your core.
Hold a dumbbell in one hand while holding a plank with the other (in extended position). Perform single arm rows as you hold the plank. This variation adds back training while engaging the core for stability and that’s the hard kind of training that we want.
So there you have it, top 10 plank variations that we think are the best to build your abs and core strength and stability. Add some of them to your ab workouts and you will feel the difference.