Different Types of Planks to Keep You On Your Toes

When I teach, one of the biggest mistakes that my clients make is dropping to their knees during pushups. I always tell them that I would rather them hold a plank then dropping on their knees to do pushups. I always state that planks will work your core muscles, leg muscles, arm muscles and back muscles because you have to use the muscles to steady yourself.

Since it’s not always easy to get a gym, I’ve come up with a few different types of planks you can do, just about anywhere, to keep yourself in shape and keep yourself active until you can get back to your everyday lifestyle.

High Plank:
This is the basic plank that most people do. To being, you want to keep your hands directly under your shoulders and keep your body in a straight line. Make sure that your head is looking up so that you don’t strain your neck. Your feet should be together and your body should be in a perfect line. You should be able to keep put a ruler on your back and it would stay perfect. Make sure that your hips are not dropping and that your butt is not in the air. These are common mistakes that people make which can cause pain in your pelvis or in your lower back if not done correctly.

High Plank – Feet Separated:
This is the same basic plank as described above but for some people, they have a hard time holding this. In this case, to help stabilize you, separate your feet so they make a “Y” shape while keep your upper body the same. This will help you build up to a full on high plank.

Elbow Plank:
To help challenge your core a bit more, instead of putting your hands under your shoulders, drop your elbows to the ground and make a straight line with your forearms. I always make the comment to “channel your inner coffee table” as an example of what you should look like. In an elbow plank, you should be able to put a cup of water on your back and it wouldn’t fall because you are in a straight line. Make sure that the majority of the weight is on your feet, that your feet aren’t pulling forward and the rest being on your forearms. Make sure that your hips aren’t dipping and that your butt isn’t in the air again for this plank.

Note: You can also do the feet separated version for an elbow plank too if you are just starting out or just getting back into it.

Side Planks:
These are my favorite as this really tests your ability to keep yourself stable. In this, start with your left arm down and stack your hips and legs on top of each other so your head is the highest part of your body and your feet the lowest. Make sure that your hips stay in line and that they aren’t sinking towards the ground. Be sure to do this on the right side as well to keep your body even.

If you want to challenge yourself, whichever leg is stacked on top, lift it in the air and also lift your hand in the air to really change your oblique’s and leg muscles to keep you stable.

Modified Side Planks:
If you need to modify this there are two options you can do. With your top foot, you can move it out in front of you, so your feet are separated and help stabilize you while doing the side plank.

Option two is that you keep the top foot where it is and bend your bottom foot at the knee. This will also help stabilize you and keep you up.

Walking Planks:
This is putting two different plank types together. For this one, you will begin in high plank. From there, walk your left forearm to the ground, followed by your right. Now your in elbow plank. Then take your left forearm and walk back up to high plank and then the same with the right hand. Keep going here and then take a break. The second time you do this, start with the opposite hand to keep your body consistent.

Now this is more of an advanced move but it will really challenge you. Starting in a regular high plank, separate your feet like you would if you were modifying “Y-shape.” From here, separate your arms as well as far as they can go. This will cause your arms, legs and core to shake. Your body literally makes an “X-shape” and will help you build that strong core that you are trying to get.

There are tons of other planks that you can do too but these are some of the ones that I do and teach to help train all parts of your body. Let me know of any other planks that you love or if you are trying these for the first time, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Stay strong!

CT Kerney – Fitness Instructor, Social Media Manager, and Personal Trainer in Delray Beach, Florida
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