The Best Plank Variations You Need For Strong Core

Whether you’re a beginner or pro, male or female, underweight or overweight, doing plank exercises can help you boost core strength and tone muscles. When it comes to plank workouts, you’ll have options to do different types of plank variations, such as the high plank, elbow plank, alternate plank, and several modified planks – at home, in the gym as well as at the ground.

You’ll see everything about planks, such as what muscles planks target; different variations of planks (for beginners, intermediate and advanced); the correct form of planks, the benefits of planks; plank exercise routine, and much more – in this article.

Knowing the different plank variations can help you incorporate them into your daily workout routine.

Related: 10-Minute Abs Workout That Requires No Equipment

Doing different plank variations will be enjoyable and help you build a strong core and tone abdominal muscle.

What is Plank Workout?

Plank is one of the isometric core strengthening workouts that you can do to strengthen and tone your abdominal muscles, build six-pack abs, and enhance overall fitness.

The plank exercises are effective, adaptable, exciting, and challenging.

Plank Workout and Exercises
Plank Workout

The different variations of the planks allow you to challenge your core strength. And doing them can help you boost your core power.

Strengthening the core is essential because it comprises different muscle groups, such as abdominals, back, hips, pelvis, and buttocks.

A strong core helps you do better in advanced exercises like overhead press, weighted squats, clean & press, deadlifts, and other weight lifting exercises.

A weak core can cause several problems, such as it can lead to poor posture, can cause shoulder pain and lower back pain – an article published by Harvard Medical School suggested.

Although, you can do myriads of core exercises other than planks, such as sit-ups, pull-up bar hanging abs workouts, and weighted ab exercises to fortify your core.

You may also like: The 15-Minute HIIT core workout and Exercise

What is The Correct Plank Form?

The correct form is essential for doing plank efficiently. Executing planks correctly with the proper form generates the maximum result and reduces the risk of muscle cramps or injuries.

The correct form of Plank
The correct form of Plank

The form of the plank workout depends on the type of plank you do.

For example, if you do the standard forearm plank, your elbows should be directly underneath your shoulder, back upright, hips neither too high nor too low, toes on the ground, core tight, and glute engaged.

Here are some tips that may help you perform plank workouts with the correct form:

  1. Keep your back as flat as possible during the forearm planking. Because when you arch your back, your core wouldn’t engage properly and you won’t get as benefits as you get by doing plank with neutral spine position.
  2. Do not let your hips go too high or too low. Try to keep your body straight from head to the heels throughout the elbow plank.
  3. Engage your core during the all plank variations.
  4. Whichever plank exercises you do, make sure you focus on your core during the movement. Looking here and there and talking to somebody may won’t produce as much result as you want.

What Muscles Plank Exercises Worked On?

The different plank types work on multiple muscles at once, such as rectus abdominish, external and internal oblique, forearms, erector spinae, and upper body.

For example, standard plank target the rectus abdominish, and side plank works on oblique muscles: hips, erector spine, and arms involved during each plank variation.

Also, Read: The Top 10 Calisthenics Ab Exercises

What are Different Variations of Planks?

When it comes to plank, you’ll get a plethora of options. Plank has as many as twenty to thirty variations for different fitness levels, such as beginner, intermediate and advanced.

Different Variations of Planks
Plank for Abs

Let’s take a list of all plank exercises from beginner to pro level.

Plank variations for beginners

  • High Plank
  • Incline plank
  • Knee Plank
  • Reverse Plank
  • Reverse plank leg raise
  • Crouch hover plank

Different Plank Types for intermediate

  • Rocking plank
  • Forearm plank
  • Side Elbow plank
  • Side Plank Hip Raise
  • Reverse plank Hip Raise
  • Side Plank Leg Raise
  • Swiss ball Plank

Intermediate to Advanced Plank Exercises

  • Knee To Outside Elbow Plank
  • Extended Plank
  • Knee to Inside Elbow Plank
  • Decline Plank
  • Single-leg plank
  • Stability Ball Side Plank

Pro Level Plank variations

  • Bird dog plank
  • Single Arm Plank
  • Moving Plank
  • Push-ups to Plank
  • TRX Plank

Okay, so let’s just quickly see how to do each plank variation with step by step guide so that you can do them effeciently.

If you workout at the gym can save this: 25 Best Ab Workouts At The Gym


Different Plank variations for beginners

1. High Plank

If you’re a beginner, you can do high plank exercise.

The high plank is one of the easier planks for strengthening your abs.

It only requires you to place your palms on the ground instead of the forearm, making it easy to begin your planking.

This plank variation works on muscle groups simultaneously, such as the core, hips, legs, arms, and shoulders.

High plank for beginners
High plank for beginners

How to do the high plank

  1. Start with sitting on your knees and place your hands on the ground shoulder-width apart, with your arms straight directly underneath your shoulders.
  2. Kick your legs behind you to get into an “up” position os push up.
  3. Make sure your weight stays on your hands and toes.
  4. Engaging your core, focus on abdominal muscles and hold for 30 to 60 seconds, depending on your strength.
You may also like: 1 Hour Gym Workout For Beginners To Build Muscle

2. Incline plank

The incline plank is one of the easiest plank types you can do as a beginner.

Like incline push-up, the incline plank is also is suitable for beginners because it requires less strength than the traditional plank.

How To Incline Plank

plank variations for beginner
  1. Stand straight in front of the stuff like the chair, table or the box then kneel down and place your forearm on the stuff. Make sure your body makes at least a 30-45 degree incline.
  2. Now lift your knees off the ground and kick your legs behind you to form a straight line from head to heel.
  3. Make sure your weight stays on your forearms and toes. Brace your core and hold into this position for at least 30 seconds.

3. Kneeling plank

The easiest plank workout on this planet is the kneeling plank, yet effective for beginners and females.

Everyone can do this, irrespective of age and weight.

It is the least effective but an excellent way to start your core workout training.

How to do the plank on knees

beginner plank workout
beginner plank workout
  1. Sit on your knees and place your forearms on the mat slightly shorter than shoulder-width apart. Make sure your arms placed directly below your shoulders and feet behind you.
  2. Keep your back as straight as possible, brace your abdominal muscles and hold into the position for as long as you can.
  3. Do this as many times as you want.

4. Reverse Plank

Like other plank variations, the reverse plank also strengthens the core and tone muscles.

But, at the same time, it also works on different muscles such as the lower back, quads, glutes, and the abductor.

If you’re a beginner, you can incorporate this modified plank into your general workout regime.

How to do the reverse plank

Plank Types for Beginner
  1. Sit on the floor on your buttock, legs extended straight in front of you. Put your hands on the ground at your sides, fingers point forward.
  2. Now push up until your arms extended and make sure they’re below your shoulder and your body forms a straight line from head to toe.
  3. Brace your abdominal muscles and hold into the position for the desired amount of time.

5. Reverse plank leg raise

You can modify the reverse plank workout by raising your legs in front of you.

The reverse plank leg kicks may be slightly difficult than the standard reverse plank but work better than that.

So including it in your plank exercise routine can help you build a strong core.

how to do the reverse plank leg raise:

modified planks for abs

Steps will be the same as the reverse plank but instead of holding your body into the plank position, raise your leg (one by one) until you feel the squeeze in your ab muscles.

Do this for at least 20 to 30 seconds to get an excellent result.


6. Crouch hover plank

The crouch hover plank is another basic variations of the plank that is suitable for beginners, especially women.

It helps you boost your abdominal strength, improve balance and posture.

How to do the crouching hover plank

  1. Get into a tabletop position on your hands and the knees. Legs behind you, knees on the ground, and maintain a tight core.
  2. Now slightly lift your knees off the ground so that your body weight stays on your hands and the toes.
  3. Hold in this position for at least 30 seconds for a better result.

Different Plank Types for intermediate


7. Rocking plank

If you have been working out for a while, you may try some modified planks variations, like the rocking plank.

Incorporating a rocking plank in your exercise routine helps build a stronger core, flatten your stomach, and increase mobility.

How to do the rocking plank:

  1. Get into a normal position with your forearms slightly shorter than shoulder-width apart and below your chest.
  2. Keep your back straight and maintain a straight line from your head to the heels. Make sure your weight stays on your hands and toes only.
  3. Now tighten your core and slowly move your upper body forward by rising higher onto your toes until your shoulders cross the fingertips.
  4. Then slowly move into the opposite direction to get back into the starting position.
  5. Do this for the desired amount of time.

8. Forearm plank (Tradional Plank Workout)

It doesn’t matter whether you go to the gym or not; whether you’re a bodybuilder or an athlete, the plank is for all.

The forearm plank is one of the standard types of plank that all fitness enthusiasts love to do.

From strengthening the core to increasing endurance, it has numerous benefits.

Plank tone muscles, improve posture, flatten the tummy, strengthen arms and shoulders, and most importantly, fortify the core.

How to do the forearm plank:

  1. Get into a push-up position on your forearms, legs extended straight behind you and maintain a straight line from your head to the heels.
  2. Hold your body weight on your forearms and the toes with keeping the back straight and core tight.
  3. Hold in this position for as long as you can but at least 1 minute for effective result.

9. Side plank (One of Basic Plank Types For Obique)

You can do a side plank exercise if you want to target your love handles (obliques).

Side plank is also a core-strengthening workout that helps you work primarily on the oblique.

It also engages hips, arms, and shoulders and enhances strength and balance.

It’s pretty easy to do. You can follow the steps below

  1. Start with holding your body weight on the right side on your forearm. To make it easy, keep your right arm extended below your shoulder.
  2. Legs are extended and piled from hip to feet and keep your other arm on your body.
  3. Keep your torso is straight in line, tight your abdominal muscles and hold into this position for the desired amount of time.

10. Side Plank Hip Raise (Modified Variations of Side plank)

The side plank hip raise is a modified side plank variation and involves hips movement.

It is a lower-back friendly exercise that strengthens the core, especially the obliques, and improves balance and coordination.

intermediate plank workout variations

How To Side Plank Hip Raise

The steps are similar to the side plank, but there is one more step you need to add. Instead of holding your body into the fixed position, lower your hips slowly toward the floor without touching it and then lift it again.

When you’ve done on the one side, move onto the other—suggested time 30 seconds on each side.

Find difficult? Well, you can make it a bit easier by bending your knees. And even most effortless putting your side knees on the ground.


11. Side plank leg raise

Another side plank variation in this list is side plank leg raise.

It is one of the best planks for the oblique compared to the others because it targets the love handles intensely and helps you develop a stronger core.

Here are the steps to do the side plank leg raise:

  1. Begin with, holding your body weight on the right side on your forearm. Your forearm should be underneath your shoulder.
  2. Keep your legs extended straight in line, one leg on the other and make sure your weight stays on the forearm and the side feet.
  3. Keep your torso is straight in line, tighten your abdominal muscles and raise your left leg as high as you can.
  4. You can hold for a couple of seconds at the top then lower it down into the starting position. That’s one rep! Suggested: 10 reps on each side.

12. Reverse plank hip raise

The reverse plank hip raise is one of the key variations of plank that works on the core and strengthens the lower back.

At the same time, it also improves flexibility, muscles coordination, and balance.

How To:

  1. Sit on the floor, legs extended straight in front of you and place your hands on the ground behind you, fingers point opposite to the body.
  2. Now push-up until your arms extended and make sure they’re below your shoulder and your body forms a straight line from head to toe.
  3. Now tighten your abdominal muscles then slowly lower hips toward the floor without touching it, and then lift them again.
  4. Do this for the desired amount of time.

13. Swiss ball Plank

Modified Swiss ball Plank
Swiss ball Plank

The Swiss ball plank is one of the highly effective core workouts that simultaneously strengthen rectus abdominish, external oblique, and erector spinae.

Performing plank on stability devices such as Swiss ball produces higher muscles activation in your core (rectus abdominish and oblique) – showed in a research published by the Journal Strength and Conditioning Research.

So if you have access to Swiss ball, do plank on it. You’ll surely enjoy it.

Here’s how to do Swiss ball plank

  1. Sit on your knees in of front of the Swiss ball.
  2. Place your forearms on the ball.
  3. Lift your knees off the floor so you’re in elevated plank position.
  4. Keep your core and glutes tight, and back as flat as possible. Hold in this position for as long as you can.
  5. Once you no longer hold, safely return to the normal position.

Intermediate to Advanced Plank Exercises


It’s time to explore the best planks variations, and I’m saying best not because they are difficult. I’m saying because they’re super effective. So let’s just quickly find out those:

14. Knee To Outside Elbow Plank

Once you mastered the beginner and intermediate level plank exercises, you can try some advanced plank variations, such as the knee to outside elbow plank.

The knee to outside elbow plank exercise works on several muscles, especially the side abs or oblique. But, to perform the knee-to-outside elbow plank, one should have a good balance and core strength.

Here’s how you can do:

advanced plank variations
  1. Get into a push-up position on your forearms, legs extended straight behind you and maintain a straight line from your head to the heels.
  2. Hold your weight on your forearms and the toes with keeping the back straight and core tight. That’s your starting position.
  3. Now bring your right knee out toward the right elbow. Then return to the starting position and repeat on the other side to complete one rep.
  4. Do as many times as you like.

To make it easier, you can even do this on a higher plank instead of a forearm plank.


15. Extended Plank

Like other planks, it also increases core strength, helps you flatten your belly or maintain abs, and improves posture.

Additionally, it also heightens muscles flexibility and muscle coordination.

If you have been working out for a while, you can include it in your plank exercise routine.

How to do the extended plank:
  1. Assume a p”up” position of a pushup workout with your arms extended and 8-10 inches away from your shoulders and maintain straight legs behind.
  2. Keep your body straight in line from head to heels. Brace your core and glutes and hold in this position for the desired amount of time.

16. Knee to inside elbow plank

Doing different types of plank movement can help you develop a solid core. And the knee to inside elbow plank is one of the best and advanced plank variations you can do to build abs.

Advanced types of plank

To do this movement:

  1. Get into a push-up position with your arms extended and slightly wider than shoulder-width, legs extended behind you and maintain a straight line from your head to the heels.
  2. Hold your weight onto your hands and the toes with keeping the back straight and core tight. That’s your starting position.
  3. Now bend your right knee and bring it from inside toward the left elbow. Hold for a moment if you want then return your leg into the starting position and repeat on the other side to complete one rep.
  4. Do for this desired number of repetitions.

17. Decline Plank

The decline plank not only improves core strength but also works on the shoulder.

The elevated position of the plank puts more stress on the shoulder and increases shoulder strength.

Avoid if you have any shoulder pain issues.

How to do the decline plank:
  1. Get into a forearm plank position with your legs extended behind you on 30-45 degree incline stuff like a bench, chair, table, medicine ball etc. Keep your body straight in an elevated position from top to the bottom.
  2. Maintain a tight core and hold in this position for 30-45 seconds at least for a good result.

18. Single-leg Modified plank

If you want to enhance your balance and mobility and strengthen core muscles, you can single-leg modified plank.

The one-leg plank is one of the best types of planks you can do for your abs at home and the gym.

single-leg plank
Here are the steps to do the single-leg plank:
  1. Assume a push-up position with your forearms on the ground and below the shoulder.
  2. Keep your back straight and core tight and raise your one leg until it is parallel to the floor.
  3. Hold for 5-10 seconds at the top then lower it down and repeat the same with your other leg.
  4. The duration of this plank is up to you and your strength.

19. Stability Ball Side Plank

The stability ball side plank boosts external and internal oblique strength and helps you build a powerful core.

Advanced plank exercise

How to do side plank on a stability ball

The steps will be similar to standard side plank but instead of keeping your forearm on the floor, keep it on the stability ball. And hold as long as you can on each side.

If you want to fortify your love handles, you can incorporate oblique dumbbell exercises in your general workout regime.


Pro or Advanced Plank Workout Variations

20. Bird dog plank

Not the easiest one! Because this requires a good balance. When I did for the first time, I made a mistake.

Bird Dog Plank
Bird Dog Plank

So make sure you don’t make a mistake. That’s why I’m going to share with you its proper technique.

How to do the bird dog plank:
  1. Get into a high plank position with your legs extended behind, maintain some space between your legs about shoulder-width and keep your back straight and core tight. That’s your starting position.
  2. Now begin to raise your right arm and left leg at the same time until they are parallel to the floor.
  3. Hold for a moment at the top then slowly lower it down. Then repeat this movement with your opposite side.
  4. This is one of the difficult plank types, so do this for the desired amount of time.

21. Single Arm Modified Plank

If you think you’re better at intermediate planking, try this single-arm modified plank. The one-arm plank is one of the advanced variations requiring good balance, core strength, and endurance.

To do the Single Arm Plank

  • Get into a normal forearm plank position with your legs straight behind you. Keep your body straight from top to the bottom. That’s starting position.
  • Tight your abs and glutes muscles and slowly lift your one arm up until it is parallel to the floor.
  • Bring it down and lift the other one, hold and return back on the floor to complete one rep. Do as many reps as you can.
  • Keep your body firm to avoid any disbalance during the movement.

22. Moving Plank

Where do I need to move? Well, you can move your right, left, forward, and backward.

This plank variation is walking on your forearms and toes.

If you can do a standard forearm plank, you can also do this.

Here are the steps for how to do a moving plank
  1. Get yourself into a forearm plank position, keep your core tight and back straight and make sure your weight stays on your forearms and the toes.
  2. Now slowly move toward the right (8-10 inches from the middle) then return to the beginning then move to the left and again return to the beginning, in the same way, repeat in the other two directions.
  3. Do this for the desired amount of time.

23. Push-ups to Plank

The push-ups to plank work on various muscles such as the back, chest, arms, core, and hips. Not only this, but it also stabilizes spinal muscles and improves coordination.

How to Push-up Plank:
  1. Start with a high plank position, with your arms extended and placed below your shoulders.
  2. keep your core tight and back straight and make sure your weight stays on your hands and the toes. That’s the beginning position.
  3. Now lower down on your one forearm followed by the other, so you’re now in a forearm plank position.
  4. To do the final step, push the floor with your one arm followed by the another to return in the high plank position. Thar’s one complete rep! Do the desired number of repetitions.
  5. Keep your core tight during the whole movement.

24. TRX Plank

The TRX plank is one of the pro versions of plank that works the same as a standard plank but challenges your core strength.

Doing plank with TRX cables not only boosts your core strength but also improves balance, tone muscles and helps you flatten your stomach.

How to do TRX plank

  1. Place your feet in the foot straps of TRX cable and lie prone on your forearms, elbows below your shoulder.
  2. Keeping your abdominal muscles tight, hold in the plank position for the desired amount of time.
  3. Do not lift your hips too high or lower too down, keep it in the normal position during the entire movement.

Plank Exercise Routine

Here I’ll share some plank exercise routines for different fitness levels, such as beginner, intermediate, and pro. So depending on your fitness level, you can do one of them.

Plank Exercise Routine for Beginners

Monday

  • High Plank – 30 seconds x 2
  • Incline plank – 30 seconds x 2
  • Knee Plank – 30 seconds x 2

Wednesday

  • Reverse Plank – 20 seconds x 2
  • Reverse plank leg raise -20 seconds x 2
  • Crouch hover plank – 30 seconds x 2

Friday

  • Forearm plank – 30 seconds x 2
  • Side Elbow plank – 20 seconds x 2
  • Side Plank Hip Raise – 20 seconds x 2

Plank Exercise Routine for Intermediate

Day 1

  • Forearm plank – 60 seconds x 2
  • Side Elbow plank – 30 seconds x 2
  • Rocking plank – 60 seconds x 2

Day 2

  • Side Plank Hip Raise – 30 seconds x 2
  • Extended Pank – 60 seconds x 2
  • Side Plank Leg Raise – 30 seconds x 2
  • Swiss ball Plank – 60 seconds x 2

Day 3

  • Forearm plank – 60 seconds x 2
  • Side plank – 30 seconds x 2
  • Knee To Outside Elbow Plank – 45 seconds x 2
  • Knee to Inside Elbow Plank – 45 seconds x 2

Day 4

  • Extended Plank – 60 seconds x 2
  • Single-leg plank – 45 seconds
  • Single-arm plank – 45 seconds
  • Swiss ball Plank – 60 seconds x 2
  • Stability Ball Side Plank -30 seconds x 2

Pro Level Plank Workout Routine

Day 1

  • Forearm Plank – 2 minutes x 2
  • Knee To Outside Elbow Plank – 60 seconds x 2
  • Extended Plank – 90 seconds x 2
  • Knee to Inside Elbow Plank – 90 seconds x 2

Day 2

  • Decline Plank – 90 seconds x 2
  • Single Arm Plank – 60 seconds x 2
  • Single-Leg Plank – 60 seconds x 2
  • Stability Ball Side Plank – 2 minutes x 2

Day 3

  • Bird Dog Plank – 60 seconds each side
  • Push-ups to Plank – 60 seconds x 2
  • TRX Plank – 60 seconds x 2
  • Reverse Plank Hip Raise – 45 seconds x 2

Day 4

  • Forearm Plank – 2 minutes x 2
  • Knee To Outside Elbow Plank – 60 seconds x 2
  • Extended Plank – 90 seconds x 2
  • Knee to Inside Elbow Plank – 90 seconds x 2

Day 5

  • Bird Dog Plank – 60 seconds each side
  • Push-ups to Plank – 60 seconds x 2
  • TRX Plank – 60 seconds x 2
  • Reverse Plank Hip Raise – 45 seconds x 2

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