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10 Plank Variations for Well-Defined Abs

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The plank is one of the simplest bodyweight exercises you can do – why? Because not only does it not require any equipment, but the long list of benefits it provides makes it a super effective form of exercise. Planking can help develop your core, arms, and glutes, but it’s worth learning the proper technique first.

Getting into the plank position is easy, but the tricky part is maintaining your position over a period of time. For beginners, this can be tough as your muscles may not be used to it, but adding a plank to the end of your usual routine will help you get a more varied workout, as well as improving your core conditioning.

If planking is part of your regular routine however, maybe you should consider mixing things up with plank variations. Similarly, if you find the standard plank isn’t doing it for you, or you just want to try something different, there are several ways to plank that are excellent for creating well-defined abs.

How many types of planks are there?

For greater plank variation, try using these 10 different examples in your workout:

  1. Forearm Plank

  2. High Plank

  3. Side Plank

  4. Side Star Plank

  5. Walking Plank

  6. Weighted Plank

  7. Raised Leg Plank

  8. Reverse Plank

  9. Extended Plank

  10. Rolling Plank

By mixing up your plank routine, you can attack different muscle groups in your body. Planks not only work your abs, but they also help your legs, arms, shoulders, and the rest of your core. Not sure how? Read on for easy-to-follow guides on how to nail each of these plank variations.

Tips for the perfect plank

Beginners

Forearm Plank

A forearm plank is a good option for beginners. If this is too intense however, you can drop your knees to the ground.

  1. Lay flat on the floor with your elbows tucked up under your shoulders
  2. With your core engaged and your forearms pressed into the ground, raise your body up – keep your glutes tucked in and your body in a straight line
  3. Hold the position for as long as you can

High Plank

A great variation for engaging your forearms, biceps, and shoulders.

  1. Start in tabletop position (on your hands and knees, with hands stacked directly underneath shoulders)
  2. Step one leg back at a time to come into high plank – engage your core and glutes, and push back into your heels for greater stability

Intermediate to expert

Side Plank

Ready to step it up? Engage your obliques with a side plank.

  1. Laying on your side, plant your elbow directly underneath your shoulder with your forearm on the ground in front of you
  2. Stack your legs on top of each other
  3. Lift your body up, so it’s in a straight line from your ankles to the top of your head – only your forearm and the side of your lower foot should be touching the ground

Side Star Plank

The side star plank is a tougher variation of the side plank – perfect your side plank before you move onto this.

  1. From a high plank position, twist your body to the side
  2. Raise your upper arm into the air, so it’s pointing to the ceiling – your arms should be in a straight vertical line
  3. Lift your leg – all four limbs should be extended in a star shape

Walking Plank

A dynamic variation – the walking plank requires greater stability and coordination.

  1. Start in forearm plank position
  2. One arm at a time, move up into a high plank then back down onto your forearms – try to plant your hand and elbow in the same spot

Weighted Plank

From a forearm or raised plank, this variation is simple – ask a gym partner to position a plate on your back. If you don’t have a gym partner, wear a weighted vest or wrap some chains around yourself.

Raised Leg Plank

Engage your glutes with a raised leg plank.

  1. From a forearm plank position, raise one leg off the ground and hold it in the air for a few seconds
  2. Lower your leg and repeat on the other side

Reverse Plank

Flip your plank over to work your back and glutes.

  1. Sit on the floor with legs stretched out in front of you
  2. Plant your palms on the ground just behind and slightly wider than your hips
  3. Lift your torso towards the ceiling so your body forms a straight line – don’t let your hips drop

Extended Plank

The extended plank is an intense variation of a high plank.

  1. Get into a forearm plank position
  2. Move your hands forward so they’re a few inches further from your head
  3. Raise your forearms off the ground and press down into your hands and feet – you can keep forearms on the ground if raising them is too difficult

Rolling Plank

A rolling plank works your obliques and shoulders more intensely than a static side plank.

  1. Get into a forearm plank position
  2. Brace your core and roll into a side plank, with your upper arm raised towards the ceiling
  3. Return to a forearm plank position
  4. Repeat on the other side

No matter how intensely you plank, you’ll see excellent results if you perform the workout regularly. Push yourself – try to get a few more seconds each time and build up your core strength and stability with this simple yet effective workout.

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