The bodyweight plank is a great exercise to increase the strength and stability in your upper body and core muscles. With so many progressions and variations, the plank is an exercise that anyone of any fitness level can include in their training. Once the standard plank is mastered, it’s fun to incorporate different plank variations into your training in order to challenge the body and keep your training interesting. Here are four fun plank variations to try for a killer core!
The Weighted Plank
Once the bodyweight plank has been mastered, trying adding a little bit of weight to it! In order to weight your plank safely and properly, you’ll need a weight that is evenly distributed and comfortable to be placed in the middle of your back. A barbell bumper plate or a small sandbag works well.
Grab a partner to assist you, and get yourself set up into a proper bodyweight plank. Have your partner place the weight right in the middle of your back. Actively think about pulling your belly button up toward your spine to create a hollow sensation in the abdomen. This activation will keep your hips from dropping down and will protect your lower back. Hold the plank for 45 seconds to a minute at a time, and then have your partner remove the weight from your back before dropping from the plank position.
The Side Plank
The side plank variation targets your obliques and challenges your balance by requiring you to balance on one elbow or arm. Start in a plank position, and then slowly turn your body toward one side, while taking the opposite arm off the ground. Stack your feet on top of each other and shift over to the side of your bottom foot.
Actively pull your hips up toward the sky in order to engage your obliques. This position can be done by balancing on the elbow or the hand of the bottom arm. Hold this position for 30 to 45 seconds, and then switch to the opposite side.
The Renegade Row
This plank variation incorporates a one arm row in order to challenge the balance and stability while also working the arm and lat strength. Grab a pair of dumbbells or kettlebells that you can comfortably hold a plank on, and get into a plank position with one hand on each handle of the weights.
Without opening your hips or shifting your core at all, perform a one arm row by bringing the weight right alongside the ribcage. Gently place the weight back down, and then perform the one arm row with the opposite arm. Repeat this five to seven times per side.
The Unstable Plank
Grab something slightly unstable to balance on, such as a medicine ball or a kettlebell, and work an unstable plank to help increase the strength recruited from your smaller stabilizing muscles. Place your hands on the medicine ball or the side of the kettlebell with your wrists close together and your fingers sprawling outward.
Step into a plank position, making sure that your shoulders and wrists are still in alignment. By using an unstable to place your hands, the smaller muscles that help keep the body stable are challenged more and have to work harder to keep you still. Hold this plank for 30 seconds to a minute.
Try out these fun plank variations for stronger core muscles!
Lauren Weiss is a personal trainer and group fitness instructor based out of Long Beach, CA. She specializes in kettlebell training and unconventional workouts and has been working with both types of fitness for over a year. Lauren has her BOLT Kettlebell Sport Certification through the USA Kettlebell League and has expertise working with kettlebells, barbells, dumbbells and several unconventional fitness tools. Lauren received her BA in Journalism and uses her writing expertise to craft thought-provoking articles about trending fitness, health & wellness topics. Follow Lauren on her website, Facebook, and Instagram.
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