Tag Archives: plank

Looking to Chisel Your Core? Try these 5 Plank Variations

Grace Kim from Lean Girls Club says the plank is one of the best exercises for your midsection because it targets all the muscles in your core.  She also points out that the plank isn’t just great for your abdominals – it also helps tone your legs, butt and arms!  Grace tries to do planks every night, and says that this exercise has really helped to improve her running in addition to giving her a toned body.  Try her favorite plank variations for total body toning.



The Elbow Plank

To perform this exercise, get face down on the floor.  Lift, extending your body into a straight line, keeping your toes and forearms on the floor.  Most of your weight should be in your elbows to really challenge your core.  Grace likes the elbow plank over a traditional plank because it helps keep stress off your wrists.

The Up-Down Plank

For this plank, start in a traditional plank position.  One arm at a time, lower yourself down into a forearm plank and then back to traditional plank again, and repeat. Grace loves this because she’s able to move instead of having to stay in a single position!  The up-down plank is an excellent arm toner as well as great for your abs.


Side Plank

To get into a side plank, lie on your side with your legs straight.  Prop yourself up using your bottom hand, wrist directly under the shoulder.  Lift your hips up so your body forms a straight line, and hold.  Repeat on both sides. Grace imagines her muffin top going away with each rep, as this plank really targets the obliques!


Plank Row

To begin, get into a standard plank position with a dumbbell in each hand. Lifting your elbow, move one arm in a rowing position and then back to start.  Repeat on the other arm.  Grace loves this move because it works the arms, shoulders and back just as much as the core.

BOSU Plank + Side Crunch

Grace loves using the BOSU ball because it adds the extra challenge of needing to keep yourself balanced.  She also says this compound move helps to cut down on gym time.  To do this move, lie on your side with your hips over the BOSU ball.  Exhaling, crunch your side, moving your upper body toward your hip.  Repeat on both sides.


How to Perform the Best Plank

Plank is an isometric strength exercise that requires maintaining engagement of the core muscles for an extended period of time. The most common plank is the front plank which is held in a push-up position with the body’s weight distributed onto the arms, legs and toes. Amanda Rose, from Amanda Rose Wellness reminds us that form is key.

plank 1

Why do I plank?

  1. It requires complete concentration and focus.
  2. It strengthens the lower back, rectus abdominis (your eight-pack) and the transverse abdominis (the corset of muscles that hug your middle).
  3. It builds strength in the stabilizer muscles of the back (traps, rhomboids, rotator cuffs), all three parts of the shoulders, chest muscles, biceps, triceps, butt, quadriceps and calves.
  4. It doesn’t require any fancy or expensive equipment.
  5. It promotes good posture and prevents back injuries by teaching your core to stay contracted in a regular standing position.

There are so many variations of plank that you can always try modifications to challenge yourself. Such examples include side plank, single leg plank, single arm plank, TRX plank and revolving plank.

plank 2

Did you know? The longest time in abdominal plank position is 1 hour 20 minutes and 05.01 seconds and was achieved by George Hood in Naperville, IL, USA on December 3, 2011.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to perform the plank at home:

  1. Come into a narrow push-up position with your shoulders directly over your elbows and your elbows directly over your wrists. Arms are perpendicular to the floor and torso is parallel to the floor.
  2. Spread your fingers and press the bases of your index finger deeply into the floor.
  3. Squeeze the muscles of the biceps and triceps. Press your outer arms inward.
  4. Firm your shoulder blades against your back and spread your collarbones away from the sternum.
  5. Press your quadriceps or front thighs towards the ceiling. Activate the shin and calf muscles. Push into the ground to help lift the body up.
  6. Keep your spine in a neutral position and your back flat. Picture your body as a long straight board or plank. Get it?
  7. Tuck the tailbone down and lift the pubic bone up. Keep the navel in. Contract the abs towards your spine.
  8. Lift your head away from your neck and gaze down towards the floor.
  9. Breathe. Smile 🙂
  10. Hold as long as you can. Aim for 20-30 seconds in the beginning and work your way up to one minute or longer as you get stronger. Repeat two to three times.

Eager to try the plank? Check out ZaxFit Extreme Core Challenge!