6 Plank Variations To Target Your Arms And Core

Planking is an excellent, full-body exercise that engages a variety of major muscle groups, including your arms, back, legs and core.

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These plank variations add some extra resistance, and are ideal for arm toning and tummy sculpting.

Master The Basic Plank

Before we start talking about plank variations, it’s important to get the basic plank pose down. Once you master the general plank position, you’ll be able to perform these variations most effectively.

  • A basic plank is performed on the floor, with your upper body supported by your forearms and your spine in a neutral position.
  • Spinal position is vitally important.
  • Line your shoulders up with your elbows and plant your toes firmly while holding your position.
  • Now you can try variations.

1. Plank To Push-Up

It doesn’t take large movements to perform plank variations. Simply raise each forearm up off the ground, one at a time, into a push-up position and then back down into a plank position for one rep.

  • With movement, your body has to work harder to maintain its position.
  • You want to keep the swaying and wiggling to a minimum, and that takes core strength.
  • To add difficulty, perform a push-up at the height of your push-up position before lowering yourself back down into a plank.

2. Forward Arm Position

Another way to modify the standard plank pose is to slide your forearms forward, so your elbows are beneath your eyes instead of your shoulders.

  • You can feel your torso lengthen immediately when you do this.
  • This variation forces your core to further engage in order to maintain the pose.
  • It will likely feel awkward the first couple of times you try it, so go as slowly as you need to while maintaining a neutral spine and solid form.
  • In this variation, take care not to tense up or shrug your shoulders.

3. Get A Leg Up

In a standard plank, you should already be balancing on your toes.

  • In this variation, try lifting one leg up off the floor while maintaining strong form.
  • Keep the leg straight and steady as you lift it.
  • Relax your lower back and engage your abs and core. Repeat with the other leg.
  • Staying balanced and still will force your core and arms to work harder which is what you want.
  • Also keep in mind that your core will work harder the lower your leg is, not higher.

4. RKC Planking

RKC, or Russian Kettlebell Challenge planking looks the same as a basic plank, but in reality is much more challenging.

  • The secret to RKC planking is to engage and tighten your muscle groups, then hold.
  • When you tighten your legs, glutes and abs, they’re engaged and therefore can’t be used to hold your balance.
  • In other words, you’re keeping them busy by engaging them, which forces the rest of your body (your arms) to do most of the work
  •  Don’t be surprised if you can’t hold this variation for long.
  • RKC planking is difficult, but is also highly rewarding!

5. Stability Ball

If you want to crank up the intensity of your planks to a new and insane level, try placing either your arms or your feet on a stability ball.

  • The lack of stability in this pose is what makes your muscles work even harder and really raises the bar when it comes to planking.
  • Proper form is absolutely crucial to the effectiveness and safety of your workout.
  • Keep your alignment as well as a neutral spinal position in check when adding stability-challenging elements to your planking workout.

6. March Your Feet

This plank variation makes for a great cardio workout, too.

  • Begin in a standard plank position.
  • March your left and right foot up directly in the air and back down onto your toes, one foot at a time.
  • This variation will have your shoulders working hard.
  • For higher intensity, try jumping both feet out from side to side instead.

The basic plank is challenging in itself, but once you master it you may want to spice it up a bit. Perfecting these variations will take time and practice, but the results you see in your arms and core will make you glad you did.