Planking is one of the best exercises to bolster abdominal muscles and build a sculpted core.
You can do various plank exercises with and without weight to forge your abs and obliques.
The strong core provides stability to the torso, improves posture, minimizes the risk of injuries, and enhances athletic and lifting performance.
Doing bodyweight planks is good, but if you want to challenge your abdominal strength, you should try weighted planks.
In this article, I’ve shared six weighted plank variations that help thicken rectus abdominis muscles and build a defined core.
Anyone can do weighted planks for abs, from bodybuilders and powerlifters to athletes and typical fitness enthusiasts. However, you should avoid them if you have lower back issues.
What Muscles Do Weighted Planks Work?
Planks are compound exercises that work on several muscles simultaneously, including the rectus abdominis, internal and external obliques, hip flexors, erector spinae, arms, and shoulders, and help build a firm core and torso.
Some planks also allow you to put more stress on a specific muscle. For example, a side plank targets the love handles (obliques) and improves the appearance of the midsection.
6 Best Weighted Plank Variations for a Sculpted Core
- Standard Weighted Plank
- Dumbbell Side Plank
- Renegade Row
- Dumbbell Side Plank Hip Raise
- Bird Dog Weighted Plank
- Extended Plank with Weight Plate
Let’s find out how to perform each exercise with step-by-step instructions.
1. Weighted Standard Plank
The weighted front plank is an excellent exercise to forge abdominal muscles. It engages every midsection muscle, particularly the external obliques, and improves core muscle definition.1 Calatayud, J., Escriche-Escuder, A., Cruz-Montecinos, C., Andersen, L. L., Pérez-Alenda, S., Aiguadé, R., & Casaña, J. (2019). Tolerability and Muscle Activity of Core Muscle Exercises in Chronic Low-back Pain. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 16(19). https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16193509
How to do the standard plank with weight:
- Sit on your knees and place your hands on the floor before you; keep your arms straight.
- Get onto a plank position with your forearms on the floor below your shoulder, and keep your back as flat as possible.
- Ask your friend to place a weight plate on your back, keep your core tight, and hold in that position for as long as possible.
- Once you no longer hold, ask your friend to remove the weight plate.
- Repeat as many times as you like.
2. Dumbbell Side Plank
The weighted side plank isolates the love handles, improves hip mobility, and builds a solid midsection.
Steps to perform a side plank with a dumbbell:
- Grab a dumbbell in your left hand and get onto a side plank position on your right arm.
- Keep your left leg on the right one and look forward.
- Brace your core, and hold your left arm straight toward the ceiling with your palm facing forward.
- Now, hold in this position for as long as you can and then repeat on your left side.
- Do it twice for better results.
3. Weighted Plank to Renegade Row
The renegade row targets the entire abs and obliques as well as activates your latissimus dorsi (lats) and superior back muscle and helps build a muscular trunk. It also improves balance and muscle coordination.
Steps to perform a renegade row:
- Holding one dumbbell in each hand, get into a high plank position with your arms straight below your shoulders and core tight.
- Keep your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart so that you can perform efficiently.
- Brace your glutes and thigh, and maintain a neutral spine position. This is your starting position.
- Drive your right elbow at your side until the dumbbell comes to your rib level.
- Pause and then lower it down, then repeat on the opposite side.
- Use lightweight dumbbells if you’re doing it for the first time.
4. Side Plank Hip Dips
You can modify the weighted side plank by raising your hips up and down.
The DB side plank hip raise allows you to target the muscles of your side stomach and help you build a toned core.
How to perform side plank hip dips:
- Pick a dumbbell in your left hand and lie on your right side with your forearm on the floor and the elbow directly underneath your shoulder.
- Keep your legs straight and stacked from hip to feet (left leg on the right one).
- Lift your knees and hips off the floor.
- Holding the weight of your left hand, place it over your hip. This is your starting position.
- Brace your core, hips, and thighs, lower your hips toward the floor as low as possible, and then raise your hips as high as possible. That’s one repetition.
- Do it as many times as possible.
5. Bird Dog Weighted Plank
The bird dog plank is one of the best plank exercises you can do with weight.
It strengthens the abs, obliques, and hips and increases lower back strength.
It also helps correct posture and improve overall mobility.
How to do bird dog plank with dumbbells:
- Place a dumbbell on the mat in front of you.
- Sit on all fours with your arms straight underneath your shoulders and knees in line with your hips.
- Brace your core and keep your spine as neutral as possible.
- Grab the dumbbell with an overhand grip with your right hand.
- Raise your right arm in front of you and your left leg behind you simultaneously until they are parallel to the ground.
- Keeping your core engaged, hold in this position for ten seconds.
- Once you no longer hold for any further moment, switch to another side.
- Repeat as many times as you like.
6. Weighted Extended Plank
Weighted extended plank is one of the advanced ab exercises that require decent core strength and balance.
It provides a good stretch to your abdominal muscles and keeps them under constant tension.
You can integrate this into your abs workout program to add variety.
Steps to perform extended plank:
- Get into a plank position but keep your forearms slightly away from your body.
- Ask your gym mate to place a weight plate on your back. Use a lighter weight than the normal weighted plank.
- Brace your core and hold in the position for as long as possible.
- Di it as many times as you like.
Benefits of Doing Planks with Weights
Whether you do bodyweight or weighted planks, you’ll get myriads of benefits. Below are some of them:
- Planks strengthen several muscles simultaneously, such as the abs, obliques, hips, erector spinae, arms, and shoulders.
- Planks boost your core strength and help you build six-pack abs.
- Planking can improve your posture.
- Planks burn a good number of calories.
- Planking may help you flatten your stomach and tone muscles.
- Planks can also enhance your endurance.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can Weighted Planks Build Six-Pack Abs?
Plank is a great exercise, but if you want to build six-pack abs, you’ll need to reduce your body fat percentage first to reveal six packs abs.
Can Planks Help Lose Weight?
Planks strengthen core muscles, but they do not help lose weight. If you want to increase fat loss and flatten your tummy, you need to lower your calorie consumption and take care of your diet.
How Long Should You Hold During Weighted Planks?
You can hold as long as possible during the plank. It is best to start with 30 seconds if you’re doing a weighted plank for the first time and increase the duration as you progress.
- 1Calatayud, J., Escriche-Escuder, A., Cruz-Montecinos, C., Andersen, L. L., Pérez-Alenda, S., Aiguadé, R., & Casaña, J. (2019). Tolerability and Muscle Activity of Core Muscle Exercises in Chronic Low-back Pain. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 16(19). https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16193509