20 Awesome Plank Variations To Shred Your Core

The awesome thing about planks is that they are a core strengthening exercise that can be done just about anywhere! They aren’t just for runners and athletes either. To perform everyday activities such as bending over, standing up straight, and carrying grocery bags, everyone needs to have a strong core.

Most of us are most likely used to seeing basic plank poses such as the full plank and elbow plank; however, there are endless plank variations that we can work into our daily workout routine to spice it up a bit and help us shred our cores!

In this plank variation guide, we will look at: 

  • Benefits Of Planks and Plank Variations 
  • How To Incorporate Plank Variations Into Your Workouts 
  • 20 Plank Variations To Shred Your Core 

Ready?

Let’s plank!

Side star plank position.

Benefits Of Planks and Plank Variations

There are endless benefits to adding planks into your strength training routine. Here’s a list to mention just a few:

Planks….

  • Are versatile and can be modified from simple for beginners to extremely challenging for more advanced athletes
  • Are a full-body exercise working the core, upper body, and legs
  • Improve posture keeping the body well-aligned
  • Improve flexibility 
  • Help shred that core! 

With all of those benefits, who wouldn’t want to plank?

Three people planking.

How To Incorporate Planks Into Your Workouts 

As mentioned, planks can be done anywhere. Full planks and elbow planks which are isometric exercises, (holding one position), are measured in time. Depending on the plank, some variations can also be measured in reps. 

If you are a beginner, try holding your first plank for 10-20 seconds. Use numerous repetitions of short intervals until you work up to a full 60 seconds. 

Try out our plank challenge and work your way up to holding a plank for a whole 2 minutes! 

Once you’ve mastered your full plank, you can move on to an elbow plank, a bit more complex, and then work in different plank variations.

Another benefit of doing planks is that you will never get bored. There are oodles of different ways to vary the plank position. Today, we will check out my favorite 20 plank variations. 

Let’s get planking! 

To be able to perform our plank variations, you will need to first master the basic plank positions. Let’s review them.

Full Plank 

A full plank position.
  1. Lie face down on the floor, hands on either side next to your shoulders, palms facing down.
  2. Engaging your core, push yourself up into the full plank position, body in a straight line from head to feet. 
  3. Your hands, elbows, and shoulders should be in a straight line, should-width apart, and weight distributed between your arms and toes.
  4. The closer together your feet are, the more difficult the plank becomes. If you need more stability, separate your feet a bit so they are further apart. 
  5. Hold this position for the desired amount of time.

Note: With any plank or plank variation, do not allow your hip to either sag or come up too high creating a peak. Your body should always be in a straight line from your head to your toes. 

Elbow Plank

An elbow plank position.

After you’ve mastered the full plank, move on to the elbow plank. The instructions are just about the same, but instead of having your palms planted firmly on the ground and your arms extended, bend your elbows at 90 degrees and drop your forearms to the floor. 

Side Plank

A side plank position.
  1. Lie on your right side with your legs stacked one on top of another.
  2. Engage your core, and push yourself off the ground with your right arm and the side of your right foot. Lift your hips off the ground aligning your body.
  3. Hold this position for the desired amount of time.
  4. Repeat on the other side.

Note: This plank can be done as a full plank or an elbow plank where you prop yourself up on your elbow instead of your hand.

20 Plank Variations To Shred Your Core

#1: Body Saw Plank

Plank variations: Body saw plank.
  1. Begin in an elbow plank position.
  2. Engage your core, and with control, move your body back and forth with your elbows and toes in a sawing motion.
  3. Continue the sawing movement for the desired amount of time.

#2: Spiderman Plank

Plank variations: Spiderman plank.
  1. Begin in an elbow plank position. 
  2. While keeping your body straight, bend your left knee and bring it to your left elbow. 
  3. Return to your starting position. 
  4. Repeat on the right side.
  5. Alternate sides for the desired amount of time or reps. 

#3: Plank Walk 

Plank variations: Plank walk.
  1. Begin in a full plank position.
  2. Take a step to your left with your left foot and left hand moving simultaneously. 
  3. Take a few steps to one side and repeat by returning to the other side. 
  4. Continue plank walking for the desired amount of time or reps. 

#4: Arm Reach Plank

Plank variations: Arm reach plank.
  1. Begin in an elbow plank position. 
  2. Reach your left arm forward, parallel to the ground, while keeping the rest of your body as stable as possible.
  3. Return your left arm to the original elbow plank position.
  4. Repeat on the other side. 
  5. Alternate arm reaches for the desired amount of time or reps. 

#5: Leg Lift Plank

Plank variations: Leg lift plank.
  1. Begin in a full plank position.
  2. Lift your left leg up, off the ground, while keeping the rest of your body as stable as possible.
  3. Return your left leg to the ground.
  4. Repeat on the other side, lifting your right leg. 
  5. Alternate leg lifts for the desired amount of time or reps. 

#6: Knee To Elbow Plank

Plank variations: Knee to elbow plank.
  1. Begin in a full plank position. 
  2. Simultaneously, lift and bring your left knee and right elbow together as if you were doing a crunch. 
  3. Return to the full plank position. 
  4. Repeat on the other side. 
  5. Alternate sides for the desired amount of time or reps. 

#7: Side Plank Hip Dip 

Plank variations: Side plank hip dip.
  1. Begin in a side plank position. 
  2. Lower your hip and tap it to the floor without placing any weight on it. 
  3. Raise your hip back up to the side plank position. 
  4. Continue this motion for the desired amount of time or reps. 
  5. Repeat on the other side. 

#8: Elbow Plank Hip Dip 

Elbow plank hip dip.
  1. Begin in an elbow plank position. 
  2. Swivel your body to your left while keeping both elbows on the floor, and touch your left hip on the floor beside you.
  3. Keep your toes on the floor, only rotating your feet from side to side along with your body.  
  4. Return to the forearm plank position and repeat on the other side. 
  5. Alternate sides for the desired amount of time or reps. 

#9: Shoulder Retraction Plank

Plank variations: Shoulder retraction plank.
  1. Begin in an elbow plank position.
  2.  Keeping your body aligned, drop your back and squeeze your shoulder blades together. 
  3. Push your back up into the starting position.
  4. Continue this motion for the desired amount of time or reps. 

#10: Side Star Plank 

Plank variations: star side plank.
  1. Begin in a full side plank position with your feet stacked one on top of another. 
  2. Tighten your core and lift your upper arm and leg to create a star shape. 
  3. Hold this position for the desired amount of time. 

Note: If your hips begin to fall, adust them so your body is always aligned in a straight line. 

#11: Reverse Plank

Plank variations: reverse plank.

Now this one really mixes it up! 

  1. Begin by lying on your back. 
  2. Prop yourself up on your elbows and heels, lifting your hips up off the ground.
  3. Like any other plank, keep your body well-aligned, and your neck relaxed. 
  4. Hold this position for the desired amount of time. 

#12: Side Plank With A Crunch 

Plank variations: Side plank with a crunch.
  1. Begin in a full side plank position with your feet stacked one on top of another and your upper arm stretched above you. 
  2. Bring your upper elbow and knee together in a crunch.
  3. Return your arm and foot to their starting positions.
  4. Continue this motion for the desired amount of time.
  5. Repeat on the other side. 

#13: Plan Rotation With A Kick 

Plank variations: Plank rotation with a kick.
  1. Begin in a full plank position.
  2. Rotate your body toward your left, lifting your left arm off the ground so you can comfortably complete the movement. Do not take your feet off the ground, but just swivel them to allow the rotating motion. 
  3. Take your right leg, and kick it toward your left side between your stable left leg and the floor.
  4. Return to the full plank position. 
  5. Repeat on the other side. 
  6. Alternate sides for the desired amount of time or reps. 

#14: Plank To Squat 

Plank variations:Plank to squat.

This is one of the plank variations that will get your heart pumping!

  1. Begin in a full plank position.
  2. Jump your feet towards your hands at about hip-width apart, into a squat position. 
  3. Raise your upper body to complete the full squat position. 
  4. Place your hands back down onto the floor directly under your shoulders and jump your feet back to the starting position. 
  5. Repeat for the desired amount of time or reps. 

#15: Alternating Side Plank 

Alternating side plank.
  1. Begin in a right full side plank position.
  2. With control, bring your left arm back behind you, and fall into a reverse plank position. 
  3. Then, push yourself up with your left arm and bring yourself into a full side plank on your left side. 
  4. Repeat for the desired amount of times or reps. 

Note: Never sacrifice form for trying to perform an exercise faster. The proper technique always comes first. 

#16: Medicine Ball Plank With Shoulder Taps 

Medicine ball plank with shoulder taps.

This plank variation brings an extra bit of difficulty as stability is affected by the medicine ball. 

  1. Begin in a full plank with your hands on a medicine ball. 
  2. Stay as stable as possible and lift your right hand off the medicine ball and tap your left shoulder. 
  3. Alternate sides for the desired amount of time or reps. 

#17: Renegade Rows

Renegade row exercise.

For this plank variation, you will need a set of dumbbells. 

  1. Begin in a full plank position, propped up on a set of dumbbells. 
  2. Keeping your body as stable as possible, engage your core and lift the left dumbbell off the ground and bring it into a row bringing your left elbow back above your shoulder blade. 
  3. Return the dumbbell to the ground to your full plank position and repeat on your right side.
  4. Alternate sides for the desired amount of time or reps.

#18: Walk Over Object Plank 

Walk over object plank.

For this plank variation, you can use any old item to plank over. In this example, I used a foam roller

  1. Place an object such as a foam roller on the floor. 
  2. Begin in a full plank position to the right side of the object. 
  3. Take your left hand and foot and move them toward your left, walking over the object placed under you. 
  4. Then, take your remaining right hand and foot and walk them over as well. 
  5. Now you should be on the other side of the object. 
  6. Return to your starting position by walking over the object again, this time beginning with the opposite side. 
  7. Alternate sides for the desired amount of time or reps.

#19: Single-Leg Downward Dog Plank

Single leg downward dog plank.

We even use yoga positions in our plank variations.

  1. Begin in a full plank position. 
  2. Lift your left leg off the ground and push back into a Downward Dog position with your back straight and your head between your shoulders. 
  3. Bring yourself back down into your full plank position keeping your left leg slightly off the ground. 
  4. Repeat for the desired amount of time or reps. 
  5. Repeat on the other side. 

#20: Toe Tap Plank

Toe tap plank.
  1. Begin in an elbow plank position.
  2. Bring your left foot out to the side and tap your toe on the floor.
  3. Bring your foot back to the starting position and repeat on the other side.
  4. Alternate sides for the desired amount of time or reps.

There you have it, 20 of my absolute favorite plank variations to add to your strength training workouts. 

If you haven’t yet and are looking to add a strength training program to your routine, check out our strength training for runners and weight lifting for runners guides to get you started! 

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Katelyn is an experienced ultra-marathoner and outdoor enthusiast with a passion for the trails. In the running community she is known for her ear to ear smile even under the toughest race conditions. She loves sharing her knowledge and experience with everyone and has a great desire to motivate others to hit the trails alongside her. Run for fun!

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