Wellness Fitness Workouts How To Do a Plank: Try These 19 Plank Exercises Change up your core workout with these creative variations on the plank exercise. By Mallory Creveling, ACE-CPT Mallory Creveling, ACE-CPT Mallory Creveling is a health and fitness writer and ACE-certified personal trainer. Her freelance work appears across several national publications, including SELF, Shape, Health, Prevention, Runners World, and Men's Journal. health's editorial guidelines Updated on February 23, 2023 Medically reviewed by Amy Kwan, PT Medically reviewed by Amy Kwan, PT Amy Kwan, PT, has been a physical therapist for over 10 years. learn more Share Tweet Pin Email There are several exercises out there that can strengthen your core, such as squats or the bridge pose. Another muscle-strengthening activity is a plank. Planks, which have elements of Pilates, yoga, and stretching, require little space. Also, planks are an isometric exercise where your body is held in one position for a set period. So, planks engage several muscles at once, from your shoulders to your feet. You can also burn a lot of calories by doing planks without taking up too much time in your day. Plus, doing planks over time will help stabilize those muscles. To start, here are 19 plank variations to include in your exercise routine. How To Do a Plank While performing variations of the plank, take note of the following steps: Start laying face-down on the floor. Keep your elbows under your shoulders and near your sides. With your hands turned forward, place your palms on the floor. While extending your legs, squeeze your thigh muscles and pull your toes inward toward your shins. Engage your abs to keep your upper body stable as you lift it off the floor. Make sure that your back stays in a straight line by keeping your hips square to the ground and your knees straight. Keep your shoulders tucked under your elbows. Slowly breathe in and out with control while holding the plank for 30–60 seconds. Slowly return back to the ground while keeping your knees straight and engaging your abs. Once your return to the floor, relax your muscles. This 30-Day Plank Challenge Will Transform Your Core in Four Weeks 1. Forearm Plank A forearm plank is what many people consider the standard plank position. Lie face down with your legs extended, elbows bent directly under your shoulders, and your palms flat on the floor. Place your feet hip-width apart and elbows shoulder-width apart. Engage your abs, then tuck your toes to lift your body. With your forearms on the ground, press the floor away from yourself with your forearms. You should form a straight line from shoulders to heels.Hold for 30–60 seconds. 2. Straight-Arm Plank A straight-arm plank looks like the top of a push-up and requires shoulder stabilization. Start on all fours with your wrists directly under your shoulders and your toes on the floor. Step one foot back, then the other, as you engage your abs and straighten your legs. Press the floor away from you with your hands. Your body should form a straight line from shoulders to heels.Hold for 30–60 seconds. 3. Side Plank A side plank is a variation of the typical plank exercise that turns up the burn on your obliques while still working your deep core muscles. Your obliques are the muscles on the sides of your midsection. Start by lying on your right side with your hips, knees, and feet stacked. Place your right hand on the floor, pressing it away from yourself, as you engage your right obliques and lift your hips toward the ceiling. Lift your left arm toward the ceiling, forming a T-shape with your arms and a straight, diagonal line from shoulders to heels. Hold for 30–60 seconds, then switch sides. 4. Dolphin Plank The dolphin plank is easier than a traditional plank. You can use your forearms for balance, which takes the pressure off your wrist joints. Beginning in a forearm plank position, shift your hips toward the ceiling to create an inverted V-shape. Lower your hips to return to the forearm plank position. Repeat for three sets of 15 reps. 5. Side Plank Crunch A side plank crunch isn't your usual crunch or side plank. Instead, this exercise is a blend of two exercises. Begin in a straight arm side plank on your right side, with your hips, knees, and feet stacked. Keep your right shoulder stacked directly over your right wrist. Place your left hand behind your head. Then, bend through your left side to crunch up and over to the left, driving your left knee toward your elbow. Slowly return to the side plank, keeping your left hand behind your head. Go for 30 seconds or 10 reps, then switch sides. 6. Plank Knee Tap A plank knee tap works the rectus abdominus (your "six-pack") and transverse abdominus (the muscles that wrap around your torso like a corset). Start in a forearm plank, your feet hip-width apart and elbows shoulder-width apart directly under your shoulders. Form a straight line from your shoulders to your heels. Then, tilt your pelvis forward, keeping your hips steady, and bend both knees toward the floor. Pause for a few seconds, then straighten your legs to return to your forearm plank. Repeat for 30–60 seconds or 10–12 reps. 7. Caterpillar Plank A caterpillar plank will make your exercise more dynamic as you start standing and working your way down to the floor. Start by standing with your feet slightly less than hip-width apart. Then, bend forward at the waist and place your hands on the floor. Walk your hands out to a plank position with your shoulders directly over your wrists, forming a straight line from shoulders to heels. Keeping your hips in line with your shoulders, draw your right knee toward your chest. Pause, step back to the plank position, and repeat on the left side. Walk your hands back toward your feet and roll up to stand. Repeat from the top. Go for 30–60 seconds or about 10 reps. 8. Twisting Knee Plank Consider the twisting knee plank to be a slow mountain climber with a few extra twists. Start in a straight arm plank, shoulders directly over wrists, and forming a straight line from shoulders to heels. Keeping your shoulders steady, twist your lower body to the left, bringing your right hip toward the floor. Return to the center.Then, twist your lower body to the right, bringing your left hip toward the floor. Return to the center. Next, pull your left knee toward your right elbow. Pause, then step back to a plank. Finally, bring your right knee toward your left elbow. Pause, then step back to the plank. Continue alternating hip twists and diagonal knee pulls.Go for 30–60 seconds or 10–12 reps. 9. Resistance Band Plank Add a resistance band to your plank to also work out your shoulders. You'll target the stability of your upper half right along with your core. Place a mini looped band around your forearms, just above your wrists. Get into a straight arm plank, with your shoulders directly over your wrists, forming a straight line from your shoulders to your heels. Step your left hand out to the left as far as you can. Pause, then bring it back to shoulder-width distance.Then, step your right hand out to the right as far as you can. Pause, then bring it back to shoulder-width distance. Continue alternating.Go for 30–60 seconds or 10 reps per side. 10. One-Legged Plank A solid first step in challenging your balance, the one-legged plank takes added core strength. Start in a straight-arm plank, with your shoulders directly over your wrists and your feet hip-width apart or slightly wider. Form a straight line from your shoulders to your heels, then lift your right leg up. Hold for a few seconds. Place your right leg back down, then repeat with your left leg. Continue alternating for 30–60 seconds or 10 reps per side. 8 Moves for a Stronger and More Stable Core 11. Plank With Elbow Lift Get your back involved in the plank action while building your stability. Start in a straight arm plank position, shoulders directly over your wrists and feet hip-width apart or slightly wider. Form a straight line from your shoulders to your heels. Engage your abs, then squeeze your upper back muscles while drawing your left elbow back and up. Keep your arm close to your body and bring your palm to your rib cage. Then, slowly straighten your arm back down to the floor. Repeat with your right arm, then continue alternating.Go for 30–60 seconds or eight to 10 reps per side. If you want to test your core strength even more, lift your opposite leg simultaneously. 12. Plank With Opposite Limb Extension This variation works on your balance and core strength. Begin in a straight-arm plank position. Keep your spine straight and engage your abs as you draw your opposite arm and leg together (e.g., right arm and left leg). Then, extend back out.Do 12–15 reps on each side. 13. Push-Up Side Plank A push-up is ultimately a moving plank. With the push-up side plank, you strengthen your chest while working out your abdominals. Get in a push-up position or straight arm plank, with your shoulders right over your wrists and feet hip-width apart. Form a straight line from your shoulders to your heels. Bend your elbows and lower your chest to the ground, maintaining that straight line. Press back up. Then, pivot your feet and rotate to the right, lifting your right arm toward the ceiling to form a side plank on your left side. Place your hand back down to return to the plank position. Repeat the push-up.Then, do a side plank on your right side. Repeat the push-up, and continue alternating side planks. Go for 30–60 seconds or 10–12 reps total. 14. Side Plank With Inner Thigh Raise Work your inner thigh and obliques with the side plank with an inner thigh raise. Start in a side plank on the right side, with shoulders and hips stacked, and feet staggered with your right foot in front of your left. You should form a straight diagonal line from shoulders to heels. Lift your left arm straight up toward the ceiling. Lifting through the heel, raise your right leg as high as you can, then return to the floor. Go for 30 seconds or eight to 10 reps, then switch sides. 15. Side Plank With Twist This variation of the side plank exercise requires extra rotation from your upper body. Start in a side plank on your right forearm, your shoulder directly over your elbow, with shoulders, hips, and feet stacked. Press through your right forearm to lift your hips. Then, extend your left arm toward the ceiling. Scoop your left arm underneath your body, rotating your shoulders toward the floor. Extend your left arm back up, re-stacking shoulders, then repeat.Go for 30 seconds or eight to 10 reps, then switch sides. 16. Plank With Side Snatch Adding a dumbbell to your plank will engage your abs while strengthening your back. Start in a straight-arm plank, with each hand holding a dumbbell. Your shoulders still go directly over your wrists, your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart. Pivot on your feet as you pull your right arm up and overhead, bending your elbow and rotating to the right. The dumbbell should line up with your shoulder at the top, forming a T-shape with your arms. Pause, then slowly rotate back toward the floor, coming back onto your toes and placing the dumbbell back on the ground with your shoulders over your wrists. Repeat on the left side, then continue alternating. Go for 30–60 seconds or eight to 10 reps per side. 17. Plank Jacks Adding a jump to the standard plank adds an extra challenge to your core stability. Begin with a straight-arm or forearm plank. Gently jump your feet in and out as you would with standing jumping jacks, always landing softly. Make sure to keep your pelvis steady and your back straight.Repeat for one minute, eventually building up to five minutes as you get stronger. 18. On-the-Ball Plank Adding a ball to your plank means your core works hard to keep you steady on an unsteady surface. Place your shins and tops of your feet on a stability ball with your hands on the ground in plank position, shoulders directly over your wrists. Engage your core, squeeze your glutes, and tuck your pelvis forward to maintain a straight line from shoulders to heels. Hold for 30–60 seconds. 19. Stir-the-Pot Plank The key to keeping your abs working during this move is maintaining a strong posture. To do so, press into the ball with your forearms, squeeze your glutes, and engage your legs. Kneel in front of a stability ball with your forearms and elbows on the ball, hands clasped. Roll the ball forward to extend your legs and form a forearm plank position on the ball, toes tucked. Your shoulders should stack directly over your elbows, with your chest lifted off the ball and your neck in line with your spine. Brace your abs and slightly tuck your pelvis forward. Keeping your hips steady, make small circles to the right with your forearms as if stirring a pot. Go for 20–30 seconds in each direction. You Don’t Need Weights to Get a Full Upper Body Workout—Try This Quick Circuit Routine A Quick Review Planks are a great exercise for strengthening your core while also working other body parts, like your arms and glutes. You can modify the plank in several ways, all of which you can do in the comfort of your home. However, if you have any lower back pain while doing planks, stop and consult a healthcare provider. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources Health.com uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Department of Health and Human Services. Physical activity guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition. Park SK, Lee KS, Heo SJ, et al. Effects of high intensity plank exercise on physical fitness and immunocyte function in a middle-aged Man: A case report. Medicina (Kaunas). 2021;57(8):845. doi:10.3390/medicina57080845 American Council on Exercise. How to do a plank.