I have a love-hate relationship with planks. I get that they’re so good for you (not only do they work your entire core, they also work your back, hips, arms, and shoulders), but it’s hard AF to hold one position for 60—or even just 30—seconds. But I've never been one to turn down a challenge, so when the opportunity to take on 60 seconds of planking every day for two weeks fell on my plate, I decided to give it a go.
Challenging myself to hold a plank for 60 seconds every day seemed like a solid way to cram in some core training in as little time as possible. (I was also heading out on vacation for two weeks, and planks are an easy exercise to incorporate into a travel itinerary no matter where you are, so it was a win-win.)
For the next twelve days, I tried holding a different variation per day for 60 seconds. I was inspired to add this variety to the two-week challenge by one of my favorite workout classes, Kira Stokes’ Athleticore, which features nine minutes (nine!!!) of plank variations at the start.
For my own take, I chose to try 13 different planks (I repeated the original plank on the last day). And I did all of these with the hope that, on day 14, I could hold that forearm plank for even longer than I did at the start. Here’s what I learned over the course of two weeks.
Next you will be able to find some interesting plank variations
My hope was that switching up my plank style each day would make the actual exercise feel easier. Maybe moving my knees or hips would distract me from realizing I was still holding a plank? Maybe a little cardio would make the time pass faster? Not so. In fact, a lot of the variations made the planks feel harder, since more muscles were called into play.
1. FOREARM PLANK
How to: Start to get into a pushup position, but bend your elbows and rest your weight on your forearms instead of on your hands. Your body should form a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles. Brace your core by contracting your abs as if you were about to be punched in the gut.
2. STRAIGHT-ARM PLANK
How to: Get on all fours, and place your hands on the floor slightly wider than and in-line with your shoulders. Your body should form a straight line from your ankles to your shoulders. Squeeze your abs as tight as possible and keep them contracted for the entire exercise.
3. SIDE PLANK WITH ROTATION
How to: In a right-side plank position, brace your abs and reach your left hand toward the ceiling. Slowly tuck your left arm under your body and twist forward until your torso is almost parallel to the floor. Return to the side plank. That's one rep.
4. SIDE PLANK WITH HIP DIP
How to: Keep one hand on the ground, the other up in the air. Your feet should both be on the ground, staggered, and your body balanced. Make sure your abs are tight. Dip your hip down slowly just a few inches and come back up. Repeat.
5. PLANK JACKS
How to: Start in a straight-arm or forearm plank position, hands under your shoulders and feet next to each other. Jump your feet out to a wide V, then jump them back in again. Do as many as you can.
6. PLANK SHOULDER TAPS
How to: Get into a pushup position with your hands shoulder-width apart on the floor. Keeping your hips square to the floor, lift your right hand and tap your left shoulder. Return to start and repeat with the other arm. Be sure to keep your torso still, and don't shift from side to side as you tap your shoulders. Continue alternating.
7. EXTENDED PLANK
How to: Get into a pushup position with your hands shoulder-width apart on the floor. Start walking your hands forward a few inches in front of your shoulders and hold. The further out your hands are, the more core stabilization you’ll need.
8. FOREARM-PLANK HIP DIP
How to: Start in a forearm plank position. Make sure your abs are tight and you’re squeezing your butt. Slowly dip right hip to right side until hips are about one inch off the ground. Return to center, then repeat on the other side. Continue alternating.
9. PLANK WITH KNEE TOUCH
How to: Start in a forearm plank position. While holding the plank, lower your right knee to the ground for a quick tap, return to center, then lower your left knee to the ground for a quick tap. Continue alternating.
10. KNEE TO ELBOW PLANK
How to: Start in plank with your feet hip-width apart and hands directly beneath your shoulders. Lift your left foot off the ground, then bend your left knee and bring it toward your left elbow. Hold for three seconds before returning to starting position. Repeat, bringing your right knee toward your right elbow. Continue alternating.
11. SIDE PLANK
How to: Lie on your right side with your legs straight. Prop yourself up with your right forearm so your body forms a diagonal line. Rest your left hand on your hip. Brace your abs and hold. Be sure your hips and knees stay off the floor.
12. KNEE TO OPPOSITE ELBOW PLANK
How to: Start in plank with your feet hip-width apart and hands directly beneath your shoulders. Lift your left foot off the ground, then bend your left knee and bring it toward your right elbow. Hold for three seconds before returning to starting position. Repeat, bringing your right knee toward your left elbow. Continue alternating.
13. PLANK UP DOWNS
How to: Come down into a plank on your forearms, toes tucked, elbows under shoulders, and hips at the same height as shoulders. Pick up one arm and press that hand into the ground toward a high, straight-arm plank; do the same action with the other hand to complete the transition from low plank to high. With the lead arm, lower back to your forearm, then follow with the other hand. Repeat on this side for half the time, then change it up and lead with the second hand for the second half of the time.
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