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Fitness

42 Plank Variations for Abs and Killer Core Strength

Doing the plank regularly offers extraordinary benefits. It builds your abdominal muscles, strengthens your core, improves your posture, makes you better at push-ups, and much more.

Luckily, you don’t have plank for hours to enjoy these benefits. Planking for 1 to 3 minutes every day can give you noticeable results.

While the standard plank is incredibly effective, doing different plank variations will allow you to get rapid results. For instance, the side plank will build your oblique muscles faster than the standard plank. While the plank with leg lifts will build your glutes.

These plank variations will also add variety to your workouts. You and I know that doing the same exercises repeatedly can kill your motivation to exercise.

If you’re a beginner, start with the easy plank variations and then advance to the more challenging ones as gain core strength.

Plank Variations for Abs and Killer Core Strength

In this article, you will discover 42 plank variations to build your abdominal muscles and strengthen your core muscles fast #plank #variations #core #abs #focusfitness

Toe Tap Plank

You should be able to perform this exercise if you can hold the elbow plank for at least 10 seconds. Simply lift your foot to the side and then tap the floor with the toes before returning the foot to starting position.

This leg movement will activate your lower back and glute muscles. Lifting your leg higher makes the exercise more effective.

How to do toe tap plank

Toe Tap Plank with Knee Tuck

Doing this move will activate your abs, oblique muscles, glutes, and lower back. Keep your shoulders, hips, and knees aligned in a straight line throughout to fully engage your core muscles.

Squeeze your abdominal muscles when tucking your knee in.

How to do Plank Toe Taps to Knee Drive

Side Plank Hip Raises

Side plank hip raises are excellent for building your oblique muscles. Make sure your elbow is directly below your shoulder. Keep the feet stacked on each other and slowly raise your hips as high as possible before slowly lowering them to starting position.

How to do Side plank hip lifts

Superman Plank

This plank variation is quite challenging because you have to support your body with one foot and one arm. It activates numerous muscles including shoulders, upper back, lower back, abs, glutes, and obliques.

Avoid sinking your hips as you lift your arm and foot off the floor. And keep your neck in its neutral position.

How to Do Superman Planks

Elbow Plank

You’ve probably done this exercise before but you may have made a few mistakes. The first common mistake is bending the knees and sinking the hips. Your body should be aligned in a straight line.

The second mistake is lowering your head. Keep your neck in its neutral position throughout. Lastly, extend your shoulders by pulling your shoulder blades away from the spine.

How to do elbow plank

Elbow Side Plank

Elbow side plank builds your oblique muscles. Keep your legs stacked on top of each other and the elbow directly below the shoulder.

Tighten your oblique muscles then raise your hips and hold that position.

How to do side plank

Full Plank

Unlike the elbow plank, this variation builds your triceps. However, it doesn’t activate your abs as much as the elbow plank.

Keep your ab muscles tight throughout when doing this exercise.

How to Do the Full Plank

Full Side Plank

This one also challenges your arm muscles. Don’t stack the legs if you lack balance, just place one foot in front of the other.

Your palm should be directly below the shoulder to avoid straining the shoulder joint.

How to Do Full Side Plank

Plank Jump Ins

This is my favorite plank variation because it builds abs while boosting cardiovascular endurance. Tuck your knees in as close to your chest as possible.

Lastly, tighten your butt muscles as you kick your feet back to prevent the hips from sinking.

How to do Plank jump ins

Forearm Spiderman Plank

Very few plank variations simultaneously activate your ab and oblique muscles the way the forearm spiderman plank does.

Keep your back slightly curved and pull your knee as close to your upper arm as possible.

How to do Forearm Spiderman Plank

Plank Thigh Taps

Other than strengthening your core, plank thigh taps strengthen your arms and shoulders.

Keep your feet slightly apart and core muscles tight to prevent your hips from swinging from side to side.

How to do Plank Thigh Taps

Plank Arm Raises

Do you want to strengthen your shoulders and core at the same time? Then take advantage of this exercise!

Raise your arm until it’s parallel to the floor before lowering it. Pay close attention to proper body alignment when raising your arms.

How to do Plank Arm Raises

Plank Jack Knee Tucks

This unique exercise will give you a good cardio workout while strengthening your arms, shoulders, core, and legs.

Perform it fast and avoid sinking your hips at any point as that may cause lower back pain.

How to do Plank Jack Knee Tuck 

Plank Cross Toe Touch

You’ll love this exercise if you sit all day because it will help loosen your hamstrings. Avoid bending your knees as that will reduce the hamstring engagement.

Plank cross toe touch also strengthens your arms and shoulders. Remember to control your motion when performing this exercise.

How to do Plank Cross Toe Touch

Elbow Plank with Arm Reach

Doing this exercise greatly challenges your core because most of the time you’re supporting the upper body with one arm.

Extend the arm forward until it’s straight before returning it to the floor.

How to do Plank with Arm Reach 

Knee Plank

If you’re beginner, this variation will be ideal for you. It’s easier than most plank variations because you only have to support the upper body.

Focus on keeping your abs tight to get the most out of this exercise.

How to Do Knee Plank

Knee Side Plank

The knee side plank targets your oblique muscles. Keep your knees on top of each other and raise your hips high.

Avoid the common mistake of lowering your head – keep your neck in its neutral position.

How to Do Knee Side Plank

Plank to Downward Dog

You’re probably familiar with the downward dog if you’ve ever practiced yoga. Combining the plank with this yoga pose will activate your triceps, shoulders, abs, hamstrings, and oblique muscles.

How to Do Plank to Downward Dog

Plank Bird Dog

This is a harder variation of the superman plank. And it’s one of the most challenging plank variations on this list.

Don’t skip this exercise because it’s challenging – it’ll give you a full-body workout!

How to do Plank Bird Dog

Side Plank Leg Swing

If you thought the side plank was hard, wait until you try this variation. Simply get in the side plank position, lift the top leg and then start swinging it back and forth.

How to do Side Plank Leg Swing

Elbow Plank Leg Lifts

Elbow plank leg lifts are excellent for activating your lower back and glutes. Raise your foot as high as possible while keeping it straight.

Note that wearing ankle weights may double or quadruple muscle activation.

How to do Elbow plank with leg lifts

Single-Leg Plank

This exercise is similar to the one above, however, it’s an isometric exercise, meaning you have to keep one leg elevated for a certain duration before switching legs.

The single-leg plank mainly targets your lower back and abs.

How to do Single Leg Plank

Inverse Plank

This is one of the few plank variations that doesn’t activate your abs. However, it strengthens your core by activating your lower back and glutes.

It also strengthens your arms by contracting your triceps and stretching your biceps.

How to Do the Inverse Plank

Inverse Plank Leg Raises

The inverse plank raises challenge your butt and lower back muscles. Keep the active foot straight and raise it as high as possible.

The supporting leg should also be straight and hips raised as high as possible.

How to do Inverse Plank Leg Raises

Plank Shoulder Taps

Plank shoulder taps will make you better at push-ups because they strengthen your core, arms, and shoulders.

Keep your body aligned in a straight line and perform the shoulder taps as fast as possible.

How to do Plank Shoulder Taps

Plank Shoulder Taps to Butt Kicks

This little-known exercise will not only strengthen your core and arms, but it’ll also improve your coordination.

How to do Plank Shoulder Taps to Butt Kicks

Forearm Plank Pike Ups

Forearm plank pike ups will strengthen your shoulders. Avoid lowering your hips when you get back to the plank position.

Keep your legs straight when in the pike position to stretch your hamstrings.

How to Do Forearm Plank Pike Ups

Plank Jacks

Plank jacks will give you a good cardio workout and strengthen your core.

Don’t bounce your hips up and down – keep them as stable as possible. Perform this exercise fast to get the most out of it.

How to do Full Plank Jacks

Forearm Plank Jacks

The only difference with the variation above is you will be resting your forearms on the floor.

How to do forearm plank jacks

Side Plank Rotation

This exercise mainly targets your oblique muscles. It’s more effective than the regular side plank because of the rotation movement.

Remember to tighten your abdominal muscles every time you bring your hand under the torso.

How to do side plank rotations

Plank to Lunge

Plank to lunge is an amazing movement because it strengthens your arms, legs, abs, lower back, and glutes.

It’s important to arch your back every time you rise to fully activate your lower back muscles.

Forearm Side Plank with Twist

Doing this unique exercise regularly will activate your oblique and shoulder muscles. Twist your torso until the upper elbow touches the floor.

Control your motion by performing the exercise slowly. Moving too fast makes the exercise less effective, or even worse, increases the risk of injury.

How to Do Forearm Side Plank with Twist

Plank Knee Tucks

Tucking your knees while in the plank position activates your abs more. Remember to tighten your abs every time you tuck your knee.

You can make this exercise more challenging by turning it into mountain climbers, where you tuck your knees as fast as possible in an alternating motion.

How to do Plank Knee Tucks

Plank Knee Tucks with Twist

This variation will allow you to activate your ab and oblique muscles. Every time you tuck your knee, twist it to the opposite side before returning it to starting position.

How to Do Plank Knee Tuck with Twist

Plank Walkouts

This is undeniably the best plank variation for building upper body strength. It activates your triceps, shoulders, abs, and oblique muscles.

Walk out with your hands as far as possible and then walk back to the plank position and repeat.

How to do plank walkouts

Knee Plank Arm Raises

Knee plank arm raises are ideal for beginners with a weak core. They activate your shoulders, arms, and ab muscles.

Raise your arm until it’s beside your head before lowering it. Hold a pair of light dumbbells to make this exercise more challenging.

Knee Plank Arm Raises

Knee Plank Shoulder Taps

When doing this exercise, make sure your shoulders, hips, and knees are aligned in a straight line.

Tighten your ab muscles and then tap your shoulders as fast as possible.

How to Do Knee Plank Shoulder Tap

Plank Hip Dips

Plank hip dips build your ab and oblique muscles. Simply lower your hips sideways until they tap the floor then bring them back to starting position and then lower them to the opposite side and keep alternating.

How to do Plank Hip Dips

Rocking Plank

The rocking plank will engage your ab and shoulder muscles. Only your shoulders and ankles should be moving, the rest of your body should remain still.

How to do Rocking Plank

Plank to Crouch

This unique exercise will strengthen your abs and shoulders. When in the crouch position, make sure your knees are bent at 90 degrees and they’re close to the floor.

Perform this exercise at a moderate pace and focus on maintaining proper form.

How to do Crouching Hover Plank

Alternating Side Plank

This side plank variation activates your obliques and ab muscles. Keep the oblique muscles on each side tight to prevent the hips from sinking.

How to Do Alternating Side Plank

Knee Plank Taps

Knee plank taps are very doable. Simply hold the elbow plank and then tap the floor with one knee. Once you tap, straighten the leg and tap with the opposite knee and keep alternating.

How to Do Plank Knee Taps

Frankly, there are many other plank variations. But the ones above are enough to build abs and strengthen your core.

If you’re not sure which plank variations to start with, take on this 28-day plank challenge. Even better, combine it with this home workout sequence to burn fat and build muscle while exercising for only 10 to 15 minutes a day.

Learn more about the home workout sequence.

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