The plank: it’s simple and effective, and if you’re not using it in your workouts already, then you should start – it’s one of the best core exercises you’ll do. So if you’re looking for washboard abs, forget about crunches, the plank is where it’s at! And of course, you already know that abs are made in the kitchen, so diet is the other part of getting a toned midriff or sexy abs (if you want them!).

Even though the plank is simple, it doesn’t mean it’s easy, and it’s important to get the form right to avoid injury and get the most benefit.

Perfect Your Plank

If you want to see some examples of bad plank form you just need to head down to your local gym. Most people either drop their hips down too low, or raise them up too high. The result is that more stress is put on the lower back as opposed to the core, which is not what you want.

Your best friend for getting perfect plank form is the humble broomstick (or dowel). If it’s placed along your spine, it should touch 3 points: the back of your head, between the shoulder blades and your tail bone.

1. Basic Plank

1. Basic Plank

Once you can hold the basic plank for 60 seconds then you can move on to more challenging variations. In fact with all the variations, you should aim to hold the position for at least 45 – 60 seconds before you progress to the next plank variation.

2. The Elbow Plank

2. The Elbow Plank

Similar to the hand plank above, the elbow plank adds in a bit more difficulty, but sticks pretty much to the basic form. Aim to hold it for 60 seconds before you move onto the next variation. If the straight leg version is too hard, you can do a kneeling variation until you’ve built up the core strength to do the straight leg version.

3. The Squeeze Plank

3. The Squeeze Plank

This is the first time we’ve seen this plank variation, but we love it! This variation (which we’ve decided to call the squeeze plank) sticks to the elbow plank form, but adds in a full-body isometric contraction, which means it’s a serious workout for your whole body from head to toe. Try it out and you’ll see how challenging it is!

4. Plank Leg Raises

4. Plank Leg Raises

Add in a leg lift to your plank to make it more challenging. You can do a static hold with each leg.

5. Plank Leg Raises (Alternating)

5. Plank Leg Raises (Alternating)

Or you can alternate legs.

6. Plank Arm Leg Raises

6. Plank Arm Leg Raises

Take the plank leg raises to the next level by adding in alternating arm extensions! This is a great variation to work those stabilization muscles.

7. Spiderman Plank

7. Spiderman Plank

We could probably make a joke about getting the abs of a superhero if you do these, but we’re not going to go there. This however, is a great plank variation – try it out for a real challenge!

8. Side Plank

8. Side Plank

You’ve perfected the plank? Time to flip it on it’s side. This is great variation if you want to work your obliques, starting with one knee bent for beginners and moving to hip pulses for the more advanced side plank.

9. Side Plank Twists

9. Side Plank Twists

Want to really work those obliques? Then you need to add a twisting motion. Once these are too easy, you can add a dumbbell into the mix – hold it with the hand which is twisting under your torso.

10. Side Plank Leg Raises

10. Side Plank Leg Raises

Side planks – bah, too easy! Okay, we’ve got you covered – time to add a leg lift to your side plank action. Trust us, these are going to kill your core! Do as many as you can, both sides.

Advanced Plank Variations

Here are a few more advanced plank variations for you.

11. Wall Plank

11. Wall Plank

Time to get your environment in on the action with these wall planks. Grab your nearest wall and get going with these tough guys.

12. Weighted Plank

12. Weighted Plank

When all else fails, the easiest way to make the plank more challenging is to simply add some weight.

13. Spiderman Crawl (Bonus!)

13. Spiderman Crawl (Bonus!)

And if all that’s still to easy for you, try out these spiderman crawls for a killer full body workout.

That’s a wrap! Some awesome plank variations for you to build a rock-solid, sexy core… and that’s just the tip of the iceberg, there are a ton of other plank variations out there.

What are your favorite plank variations? Let us know in the comments below!

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