Article by: Eric Heger, PurLife Personal Trainer NASM-CPT
“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” -Friedrich Nietzsche
If you’re reading this then you survived walking the plank. As discussed in my previous article, “The Single Greatest Core Exercise”, you know I’m a big advocate of planks. all we need is right below our feet. After mastering the basic plank its time to turn up the intensity. Here are three more of variations that can be added to challenge yourself even further. The same rules apply, all you need is right below your feet.
Plank Variations Part 2
1. Forearm Plank with Leg Lift
Get into a forearm plank. Hands and forearms planted firmly on the ground. Slowly raise one leg off of the ground. While letting the leg hover in the air, point your toes. Slowly lower your leg back to the ground and raise the other. As you continue to challenge this move, add more repetitions and/or increased time.
*Trainer Tip – The goal is not to shift your weight while you raise one leg. Really point the toes as you lift your leg, it will help prevent weight shifting. Raise the leg no higher than the height of the back.
Plank With Leg Lift 1
Plank With Leg Lift 2
2. Side Plank with Rotation
A side plank can be very challenging by itself, as mentioned in Part 1. Image adding some rotation to the movement? Set up a side plank with the forearm perpendicular to your body (your feet can be either stacked or staggered). Starting with your top arm reaching towards the ceiling, bring the arm down and slowly wrap that arm around your ribs attempting to reach behind you. Return to a straight arm above your head each rep.
*Trainer Tip – For an additional challenge, try holding a yoga block or light free weight in the moving arm. Again, staggered feet provides a wider base, therefore giving you additional support.
Side Plank With Rotation 1
Side Plank With Rotation 2
3. Shoulder Taps
Start in a straight arm plank, ensuring your wrists and shoulders are in line. With your feet approximately shoulder width apart, tap the right shoulder with the left hand slowly and with control. Once you have tapped one shoulder return to the straight arm position and touch the opposite shoulder. This is to be done with as little movement in the hips as possible.
*Trainer Tip -The closer your feet are the harder the exercise will be.
Plank With Shoulder Tap 1
Plank With Shoulder Tap 2
It’s Still OK to Stare – Keep On Looking
After mastering the first three basic variations from Part 1 of my article, these three new planks will really help make them more difficult and continue to turn up the intensity. All six plank variations can be done without fancy gym equipment. Continue to challenge your core, your body will thank you in the end.