One of the most popular exercises that almost all trainers swear by is the plank, but what’s so special about this exercise and what does the plank exercise do? Well, this versatile exercise uses body weight to train abdominal muscles along with the shoulders, arms, back, legs and glutes, improves core strength and aids to develop six-pack abs. The basic plank exercise requires you to hold your body up off the ground resting your weight on your arms and toes. You must make sure that your body forms a straight line from the head to the heels. There are many variations of the plank with and without equipment that works different areas of the body.
Benefits of Ding Plank Exercises
There are numerous plank exercise benefits that strengthen your core and support your spine. Let us see what happens to the body when you start doing planks every day.
Improved Core Definition
Planks hit the abdominal muscles hard because they engage all the major core muscle groups like the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominus, the external oblique muscle, and the glutes. Strengthening all of these muscle groups helps to develop a flat and toned belly and lays the basis for developing the six-pack abs.
Planks also increase the flexibility of the posterior muscle groups by stretching and expanding them. It reduces the risk of injury during strenuous workout sessions.
Reduction in Back Pain
Plank exercises strengthen the core muscles without putting much pressure on the spinal column and hips, so there is reduced the chance of back pain along with a lower risk of injury. The plank exercises provide support to the entire back, especially the area around your upper back.
Doing planks on a daily basis correct any deformities in posture and improves your ability to stand straight and maintain a stable posture at all times. These exercises work your back, chest, shoulder and neck along with the abs.
Boost Overall Metabolism
Plank exercise challenges your entire body and burns more calories compared to traditional exercises such as sit-ups or crunches. It also ensures that your body continues to burn energy when it is sedentary. It not only enhances the metabolic rate but also ensures that the metabolic rate remains high throughout the day.
Top 15 plank exercise variations for Toned and Chiselled Abs
The plank is the best exercise at home that takes very less space to perform and requires absolutely no equipment at all. It is a versatile workout that engages more than 20 major muscles of the body and works the core without the risk of back injury or overstressing the hip flexors that comes with other traditional core strengthening exercises.
Let us begin the list of the best plank exercises with the forearm plank that is considered to the standard plank. It works all the major muscles of the body – arms, shoulders, core, hips and legs all at the same time.
Lie face down with the elbows bent directly under shoulders and hands clasped together and the legs extended. Feet should be placed hip-width apart, and elbows should be shoulder-width apart. Raise your body and keep it in a straight line from shoulder to heels by contracting your abs. Hold the posture for 60 seconds and relax.
Straight arm plank
This is one of the simple plank exercise variations that uses your own body weight to tone your muscles, and it targets the shoulders and arms specifically.
Begin in a table top position by kneeling on the floor with hands placed right below the shoulders. Now, lift your knees until your legs are straight, and your weight is resting just on your toes and hands. Keep your hands straight as well and spread your fingers to form a stable base. Hold your body in a straight line with your core tight and wait for 1minute. Don’t let your stomach sag or back round out.
Now, let’s begin with the more difficult core plank exercises for a solid and strong core. The uneven plank is an effective plank variation that helps to build the core and triceps. Get down on the floor on your shoulders and toes, keeping your abs and glutes engaged and your body forming a straight line from head to heels. Now, lift your right forearms off the floor and rest your right palm on the floor in the bottom position of a push-up.
Hold the position for 1 minute and then switch sides. Walking Plank – Take your plank exercises to the next level with the walking plank exercise that adds an up and down motion to the workout and makes it much more challenging and effective. Begin in a standard plank position on your hands and toes. Now, slowly lower your right arm down to your forearm and then lower your left arm down as well so that your forearms support your body weight. Now, place your right palm on the ground and push your body back up and follow it with your left hand. Repeat in the opposite direction beginning with your left arm.
Single Arm Plank
This one of the functional plank exercise for abs that helps to improve your balance and strength as well. It is easy to perform and can be included in your daily workout routine.
Begin in a standard plank position on elbows and toes. Now, lift your right arm and extend it out in front of you, wait for a few seconds and come back to the starting position and switch sides and repeat. Aim for 20 to 30 repetitions with each arm.
Plank with Arm and Leg Lift
This particular variation of plank targets the upper back, chest, core, obliques and glutes. It is a full-body workout that requires no equipment and can be done in the comfort of your home.
Begin in a straight-arm plank position on your hands and toes and then raise your left hand up and stretch it to the side and raise your right leg up towards the ceiling and balance your body on your right arm and left leg. Stay in this posture for 30 seconds and then switch sides and repeat.
This is yet another widely popular plank variation that works the entire core and arms, improves balances and flexibility, and checks strengthen imbalances. It specifically targets the oblique muscles present at the sides of the tummy.
Begin in a plank position pressing your right arm into the mat and turning your body to the side such that your weight is on the outer edge of your right foot and your left foot is stacked on your right foot. Press your torso up and away from the floor, extending your left arm towards the ceiling. Keep your lower abs muscles engaged, wait for 1 minute and return to the plank position. Repeat on the left side.
Side Plank Crunches
Go one step further with your side planks by incorporating crunches into the exercise. It adds a bit of a twist to the same old side planks and works your abs from different angles.
Lie on your left side with your left hand resting on the floor beneath the left shoulder and right palm behind your head. Let your right foot rest on the floor in front of the left foot. Now, lift your body off the floor by pushing your left hand into the floor so that your body forms a diagonal line from the head to heels. Crunch forwards and down by bringing your right elbow close to the left elbow and return to the starting position. Repeat 10 times on one side and then switch sides.
This is another simple plank variation that works the major muscles of the body along with the legs and improves flexibility and strength.
Begin in a straight-arm plank posture on your palms and toes. Now, bend your left knee and bring it up and in towards your chest, rotate your waist as you raise your bent left leg out till its parallel to the floor. Wait for a few seconds and return to the plank position. Repeat on the other side.
The dolphin plank exercise is inspired by yoga, and this compound exercise is extremely useful for working the back, abs and shoulders all at the same time. It is a wonderful plank exercise for back pain that provides lasting relief.
Begin in a forearm plank position on your elbows and toes. Now, lift your hips up towards the ceiling to form an inverted “V” shape and come back to the starting position. Aim for 30 repetitions at one stretch.
Plank Jack is a great core training and cardio exercises that combine the benefits of the static plank with that of the jumping jack. This exercise engages the core and improves your strength.
Begin in the straight arm plank position looking forward. Now, jump and part your legs shoulder width apart and instantly jump again and close your legs just as you would do in case of jumping jacks. Continue these jumps for 1 to 2 minute. Remember to keep your pelvis steady and back straight throughout the exercise.
The Rolling plank is a simple yet powerful plank exercise that works the core and legs along with the upper and lower back muscles and helps you to develop well-formed shoulders.
Start in the forearm plank position on your elbows and toes, now shift your weight on the left forearm and turn your body right by driving your right elbow up and back and opening up into a side plank with your feet staggered. Quickly come back to the starting position and repeat the movement on the opposite side. Complete 12 repetitions on alternating sides.
Knee To Elbow Plank
This is yet another power packed plank variation that targets the oblique muscles and helps you to cut out flab and extra tyres from the sides of the tummy so that you can flaunt a slim and toned abdomen.
Begin in a push-up position with legs fully extended. Now, engage your abs and bring your right knee up and inwards close to the right elbow and then extend it back again. Continue to alternate the legs one after another for a total of 1 minute before taking rest.
Who says that plank exercises can be done while facing upwards? This reverse plank exercise inspired by the yoga table top lift pose helps to tone the abs along with the glutes, quads and triceps.
Begin in a table top position on your arms and feet while facing the ceiling. Now, inhale and as you exhale lower your hips and straighten your legs so that that your hips just hover above the floor. Hold this challenging position for 30 seconds and return to the table top position.
Reverse Plank with Leg Lift
This is a more challenging variation of the reverse plank that works the abs, legs and shoulders.
Begin in a sitting position with your legs stretched straight in front of you and fingertips facing the toes. Now, lift your butt off the floor by pressing into your feet and try to maintain your body in one diagonal line from shoulder to hips. Lift your right leg up, wait for a few moments put it down and lift your left leg up. Continue to alternate between the legs while moving with control to make the movements steady and perfect. Complete 20 lifts on each leg.
Include a few of these amazing core plank exercises in your daily workout regime and develop attractive and well-defined abs in very less time.