For decades, it was believed that the way to get a rock-hard midsection was to perform thousands upon thousands of crunches and sit ups.
After a lack of results (and a lot of sore necks and achy backs), individuals began searching for more effective abdominal and core exercises that also carried with it less risk of injury to the individual performing the exercise.
This gave rise to the emergence of the plank (and all its variations) as a superior alternative to help build a stronger, more functional six-pack.
And, did you know planks engage more than 20 muscles other than your core?!
Today, we cover planks of all kinds from beginner to advanced and everything in between with this at home guide to planks.
This is the plank that most individuals begin with due to it being the most “stable” plank variation.
To perform the forearm plank:
Increasing the difficulty of the forearm plank one notch brings us to the high plank, which resembles the starting position of a standard push up.
This plank increases the challenge on your core and places greater demands on shoulder strength and stability.
To perform the standard plank:
Continuing to up the ante on the common plank brings us to the single leg forearm plank.
To perform the forearm plank, you’ll assume the standard forearm plank position and then lift one foot off of the ground for a predetermined amount of time.
By removing one foot off of the ground, you increase the demand on your core.
Here’s how we like to perform the single-leg forearm plank:
Instead of alternating back and forth during the set, you can also raise one leg and keep it elevated for the entire time, then raise the opposite leg on the following set.
This variation challenges your obliques (the side muscles of the core) to a greater degree than the standard plank.
To perform the side plank:
The side plank can be made more difficult by balancing on your hand and foot, rather than your forearm and foot. You can also try raising the arm or leg that is not in contact with the ground in the air.
The arm raise plank is yet another plank variation where you’re removing one point of contact from the ground, in order to increase the challenge on your core.
Individuals who struggle with shoulder mobility and rear delt strength will find this significantly more challenging than the single-leg raise forearm plank.
To perform the arm raise plank:
As we mentioned with the single-leg forearm plank, you can alternate back and forth between raising the left and right arms, or keep one arm elevated the entire time and then raise the other arm on the following set.
If you thought the arm raise plank challenged your shoulder mobility and strength, then wait until you give the dolphin plank a shot!
This plank variation is slightly easier to perform than a traditional high plank because you are on your forearms, but it hammers the front and rear delts while also working on scapular strength -- something many individuals are lacking.
Now, we’re getting serious!
It’s time to take the strength, balance, and coordination you’ve developed from the beginner and intermediate plank variation and really challenge your body.
This brings us to the arm and leg raise plank.
By removing two points of contact from the floor, you’re forced to to resist rotation while maintaining a straight body (which presents a tremendous challenge for your core!).
To perform the arm and leg raise plank:
The star plank may seem like nothing more than an elongated high plank, but the slight adjustment in hand position really ramps up the challenge on your shoulders, core, and abs.
To perform the star plank:
The reverse, or Chinese, plank is one of the best exercises an athlete can do, regardless of their sport.
The reason for this is that the reverse plank excels at strengthening the posterior chain while also promoting proper thoracic extension.
More importantly, the reverse plank helps strengthen your lower back and core, improve your posture, and support overall spine health.
Collectively, this helps reduce your risk of injury and strengthen your backside, which allows you to perform better in all of your upper body lifts -- bench press, barbell rows, etc.
To perform the reverse plank:
The plank is a phenomenal exercise for developing core strength, shoulder stability, and total body coordination.
There are an endless number of plank variations to suit your particular strength and skill level.Try some of these plank exercises at home the next time you’re looking to shake up your ab routine, and if you’re looking for supplements that promote core strengthening, SteelFit® provides a comprehensive line of products to help you meet your goals.
As a former collegiate athlete, I’ve has always had a passion for all things health and wellness. SteelFit® is a culmination of all my years of education, training, and passion combined. I create, formulate, and educate daily. I am always thinking of how to give our customers the latest and greatest products to help them achieve their goals. Some of my best ideas come when I’m at the gym. When I’m not doing all those, I love spending time with my wife Jessica, my son Logan, our three puppies, and playing daily fantasy sports. I love to travel and am always up for a good cheat meal.
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