Classic plank and its variations – we strengthen the abs and the whole body

Photo by Marta Wave from Pexels

Exercise plank is a great way to strengthen not only the abs but also the entire muscular corset, increase muscle strength and endurance, make the silhouette fit and improve your well-being. Planck has dozens of variations, differing in the degree of complexity, however, they are all performed on the basis of the basic technique. Exercise is used in fitness, yoga, Pilates, and various wellness practices.

Muscle work

The main groups of muscles that support the body in a straightened position while performing the plank are the abs and the back. In addition, the muscles of the chest, shoulders, front surface of the thighs, and buttocks are included in the work. In other words, the distribution of the load on the muscles when performing the classic version of the exercise (standing on the elbows) is as follows:

  1. Abs, especially the rectus abdominis. The abs have the main load – the abdominal muscles do not allow the body to sag down under the action of gravity.
  2. The muscles of the back, especially the lower part. They support the body in a straightened position, tighten the ribs, pull the arms to the body, allowing you to stabilize the angle between the body and the shoulders.
  3. Large pectoral and deltoid muscles. These muscles allow you to hold on to your shoulders without breastfeeding down.
  4. Large gluteus, quadriceps, calf muscles. These muscles provide an equal position of the legs and pelvis.

Looking at the list above, we can safely say that the plank trains almost all the muscles of the body. Variations of this exercise allow you to increase the load or shift your focus on certain muscle groups.

The classic plank exercise (sometimes called the “board”) is isometric. This means that if you do it correctly, movement in the joints does not occur, that is, the posture remains static. However, there are dynamic options, including turning the body, raising and lowering the arms or legs.

Whether the plank will help you lose weight

The effectiveness of the plank for losing weight, like any other exercise, is measured by how much energy you spend on doing it. In other words, to consider it as a magical tool that will help you lose weight is not worth it. Dynamic variations of this exercise consume more calories than static ones.

In general, you can make the whole training solely from the slats. However, this monotony will quickly tire you. Therefore, it will be right to combine the plank with other physical exercises. The effect of losing weight will appear in the event that you spend more energy than you get with food.

Visually, the plank helps to make the figure more slender by bringing the muscles of the abdomen and sides in tone. In principle, it gives a good help to start losing weight. But with help of other exercises and healthy food.

How to do the exercise correctly

The classical options for the exercise are essentially two:

– focusing on straight arms;

-focus on elbows.

To do the exercise on straight arms is easier than on the elbows. This is because in this case most of the weight of your body falls on your legs, which is quite usual, the load on the upper body is less and it is easier to hold the position of the body. When you fall on your elbows, the distribution of weight between the points of support changes. You have to make a lot of effort to keep your body level.

The technique of performing the plank on straight arms:

  1. Take the position of the support on the palms. Brush set exactly under the shoulders. Your whole body should be absolutely straight line. That is, you keep your back straight, without bending back (the pelvis is a little twisted), the legs are one line with the back – the buttocks do not rise up, the stomach does not sag down (the abs are tense). Separately pay attention to the position of the shoulders and neck. The chest should not sink between the shoulders. The neck is a continuation of the back, the look is directed to the floor, you do not need to raise your head. The legs are straight at the knees, you rest on your toes.
  2. Stay static for as long as you can. Continue to stand until due to fatigue of the muscles will not be broken technique. The fact that the muscles in the last seconds begin to tremble is a normal phenomenon. As soon as you feel that you are no longer able to maintain the posture, get down to the floor, rest a bit and repeat the exercise 1-2 times more.

As for the width of the stop setting, it does not have a key value. The wider the legs apart, the easier it is to do the exercise. Feet together – a complicated version.

The technique of the exercise with an emphasis on the elbows:

  1. The starting position is the same as in the previous version, only you place your hands not on the palm, but on the forearms. Elbows are located strictly under the shoulders, body, neck, and legs are one line. Make sure that there is no deflection in the waist, buttocks do not rise up, and the stomach does not sag.
  2. Stay in this position for as long as possible. Repeat the approach 1-2 times.

Many practitioners have a question: how much time does one need to hold the plank and how often should this exercise be done?

If the option of holding the strap “as long as possible” seems too vague to you, start with 30 seconds. After you have mastered holding a pose for 30 seconds in three sets – increase the time by 10 seconds and hold on 40 already. So, gradually strive to achieve three minutes in one set. If you have reached a good level of fitness, start learning advanced exercise options.

The plank can be done as often as your time and desire allow. It is perfect for completing an ab workout or full-body workouts. You can do this exercise separately at any time when there is an opportunity.

Next, we consider the most popular variations of classic types of planks, which will increase the load, make it more diverse and increase the effectiveness of training.

10 variations of planks

What is called, complicate your life, in two ways:

  1. By reducing the number of points of support (by raising an arm or leg).

2. Adding speakers (wringing hands or crossing legs or doing twisting).

Diversify the resulting load by changing the position of the body, that is, by performing:

– the side planks;

-reverse planks.

Let’s look at how to properly perform all of these options in order to get the maximum effect from your workout.

Raise Your Hands

This exercise option will increase the load on the muscles of the core and upper body, in particular, on the shoulders. In addition, stabilizers responsible for maintaining balance are included in the work of the small muscles.

  1. Take the pose of the classic plank on outstretched arms (simpler) or elbows (more complicated). Transfer the weight of the body to one hand, and the other off from the floor and pull forward. Lock in this position and try to hold it as much as you can.

2. Lower the arm, then repeat the movement with the other hand.

Raise the legs

Here, the additional load falls on the gluteus and the back of the thigh. Also, work muscles stabilizers the body.

  1. Stand up on the elbows or straight arms. Maintaining a stable position of the waist, lift the straight leg off the floor and lift up. Lock in this position. The raising of a leg is carried out without jerk, under control movement.

2. Return to the starting position and repeat the exercise with the other leg.

Two-point support

This exercise is a synergy of the previous two. You hold a foothold at only two points – this is the level of the professional.

Reliance on two points requires good coordination of movements.

  1. Take the classic plank pose. Extend a straight arm forward and lift up the opposite leg. In this position it is rather difficult to keep balance, therefore it will require from you not only physical training but also mental concentration.

2. Go down to the floor, change your leg and arm and repeat the movement.

Push-up plank

Exercising a plank in this way adds dynamic work to the exercise. Increases the load on the pectoral muscles and triceps.

  1. Take the pose of the plank on the straight arms, lock.

2. Without changing the direct position of the body, lower one hand on your elbow. Then do the same with the second hand. So, you are already standing in the plank with an emphasis on your elbows.

3. Now you need to climb back into straight arms. That is, consistently with each hand to do push-ups. Straighten the arm that was bent first, then place it on the palm and straighten the other arm.

4. Repeat the exercise as much as you can.

Legs together – legs to the side.

This type of plank adds strain on the gluteal muscles.

  1. Stand up on the elbows or straight arms, depending on your level of training. Connect the legs together.

2. Step with one foot to the side. Step aside with your other foot. Put your first leg back in place. Substitute her second leg. During the “pacing” control the position of the waist.

3. Repeat the exercise.

With twisting

Another dynamic variation, forcing oblique abdominal muscles to work.

1. Take the position of emphasis on straight arms.

2. Tear off one hand from the floor and lift it up, twisting the body. At the same time, both legs remain on the floor, but the shoulders change their position from horizontal to vertical. The arm is extended vertically, the look is directed to the side.

3. Lower your arm and return your shoulders to a horizontal position, but instead of putting your palm on the floor – hold your hand under the body and stretch in the opposite direction.

Raise your hand again and lower, stretching in the opposite direction.

Knees to shoulders

This variant of the exercise is performed as follows:

  1. Rest on your elbows or palms.

2. Through the side pull the knee to the same shoulder.

3. Put your foot back in place. Repeat the motion with the other knee.

Side plank

Photo by Marta Wave from Pexels

Side plank allows you to create a static load on the oblique abdominal muscles.

  1. Stand in the classic plank. Flip the case sideways with one arm straight up. Legs can be put cross one after another, or the foot below can be placed on the outer part of the foot, and the second one can be placed on top of it (this option is more difficult since the points of support become smaller). Your legs, pelvis, back, neck, and head should be one straight line.

2. Lock the position and try to keep it as long as possible. Then change the side.

This exercise can be complicated. To do this, the foot, which was on top, should be raised up. The side plank requires perfect balance control and trains your balance well.

Reverse plank

Photo by Anete Lusina from Pexels

This is the last type of plank in our selection. All the basic principles of the exercise, such as an absolutely straight body, remain in force. Only the position of the body changes.

1. You need to get up to the plank with your belly up. To do this, sit on your buttocks and rest your arms on the back. Straighten your legs in front of you.

2. Transferring body weight to your arms, lift the buttocks and stretch the string. The look is directed upwards. The neck and spine are straight. This is the opposite plank.

3. Lock in this position. Get down on the floor.

As a complication, you can alternately raise the legs.

So, we figured out how to properly do the classic plank, and also listed 10 of its variations, allowing you to increase the effectiveness of training, diversify the load, and work out almost all the major muscle groups.

Beginners are recommended to start with the basic version of the exercise, gradually mastering more complex options. Thus, you strengthen the muscles, bring the body to tone, become stronger and more enduring, as well as be able to improve your results in other exercises.

As for losing weight, the plank can be a good help in this process, but its implementation alone will not be enough. In order to get a powerful fat-burning effect, you need to intensively exercise and eat right.

The benefits and harm of plank

What is a useful exercise plank? Conventionally, the benefits of it can be divided into several components, such as benefits for the back, legs, and abs. Let’s talk in detail about each case in terms of the benefits and harms of the exercise.

Back benefits

Back pain affects most people who lead a sedentary lifestyle. The back is a vulnerable spot for both professional athletes and ordinary visitors to the hall. The main reason for this is the weak core muscles. The benefit of the exercise plank for the back is to strengthen the muscle groups that are responsible for stabilizing our body. During the plank, large back muscles are worked out: straight, latissimus, lower back, and neck muscles. Such a symmetrical load on the abs and back makes the posture correct, and the stomach tightened. Performing the exercise plank regularly, you can get rid of back pain, notice progress in strength exercises, minimize the possibility of spinal injuries. Plank for the back will serve as prevention of osteochondrosis.

However, be careful: the exercise can be harmful in case of any problems with the spine. A violation of the technique can even lead to back injuries.

Foot benefits

In the plank work almost all the muscles of the legs. In various types of exercises in high tension are the middle and large gluteal muscles, the thigh and calf muscles work. Doing the bar regularly, you will notice that the muscles of the legs become stronger, gain tone, the buttocks become more toned, and the legs become slender. The plank for the buttocks has another positive effect – reduction of cellulite, due to improved blood microcirculation in this zone. Starting exercise, you should take into account the great tension that falls on the legs.

Although the classical plank is performed in a static position and has a sparing effect on the joints, in some cases, for example, with problems with the ankle, exercise can be harmful.


We have already figured out what the plan gives and what is the use of the exercise. However, please note that the implementation of the strap can be harmful. It is contraindicated for people with spinal injuries, herniated intervertebral infections, pregnant women. In the postoperative and postpartum periods, exercise should also be done with caution. Such people should be consulted by a doctor, otherwise, they can cause serious harm to their health.

Program for 30 days

Exercise plank will be your indispensable assistant on the path to health and a great figure. Having learned how to do the bar correctly, start classes. The positive effect of training does not take long.

Use our exercise program for a 30-day exercise plank. In it, you can combine different types. What is useful for each of the exercises you already know. In a month you will experience the effectiveness of the exercise and see amazing results. Follow the bar for 30 days using this scheme, which will allow achieving progress through a gradual increase in the execution time.

Day 1     20 sec

Day 2     20 sec

Day 3     30 sec

Day 4     30 sec

Day 5     40 sec

Day 6     Rest

Day 7     45 sec

Day 8     45 sec

Day 9     1 min

Day 10   1 min

Day 11   1 min

Day 12   1 min 30 sec

Day 13    Rest

Day 14    1 min 30 sec

Day 15    1 min 30 sec



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