Had your fill of proud exercisers showing off their plank challenges? We say, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. But don’t waste your time extending the entry-level plank for hours on end – the most likely result is overworked back muscles, not the carved core you’re hoping for.
5 plank variation exercises
For a full body workout and a cast-iron core, you’re better off switching up your plank. Adding new plank styles will help chisel your chest muscles, engage your glutes and trim your thighs.
Fitness expert Laura Williams is here to show you how…
1. Knee-to-elbow side plank – works your lats and obliques (waist muscles)
Lie on your side and lift your body into the air, so your weight is resting on your bottom arm and the sides of your feet. You should be forming a straight line from shoulder to ankle.
Extend your top arm overhead before bending the arm and bringing the elbow down towards your top leg. At the same time, lift your top leg into the air too, so that your knee comes up and meets your elbow.
Repeat this eight times before switching sides.
Acceptable cheat: Lie down on the mat between each rep, to help you recover.
2. Plank leg sweep – works your glutes, core and upper back
Lie face down with body weight distributed between your forearms and the balls of feet. Making sure your back doesn’t arch, sweep one leg out to the side and brush the floor with your big toe.
Return to your starting position and then repeat on the other side. That’s one rep, and you should try and do 30.
Acceptable cheat: Keep your sweep small and your leg closer to the body to make it easier.
3. Side-to-side plank – works your obliques, core and quads
Lie face down with your body weight resting on your forearms and the balls of your feet, as if you were starting a plank leg sweep. Slowly slide your torso to the side, towards the floor, without twisting your back.
Hover an inch or two above the floor for a count of three, before returning to your starting position and repeating on the other side. That’s one rep – do five.
Acceptable cheat: Briefly rest on the floor in between each rep if you get tired.
4. Push up-to-plank – works your chest, shoulders and core
From a push-up position with your weight distributed on your palms and the balls of your feet, lower yourself into a forearm plank position, so that your weight rests on your forearms and feet.
Then push back up to starting position. Continue moving from one to the other for one minute.
Acceptable cheat: Hold push up position for longer if you start to fatigue.
5. Plank with high kick – works your core, glutes and upper body
Start from a push-up position, with your weight distributed on your palms and the balls of your feet, then extend bum into air so that your body is forming a slight V-shape.
Draw a knee into your chest, before extending the same leg directly back behind you, into the air, keeping your foot off the floor throughout.
Aim for 15 of these kicks each side.
Acceptable cheat: ‘Rock’ slightly on the ball of your foot as you draw your knee into your chest, to give you some momentum for the kick.
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