The plank is a perfect full-body exercise that works your butt, core, shoulders, and legs all at the same time. While many people focus on how long they can hold a plank, that builds endurance. To strengthen your core, shoulders, and legs all at once focus on a strength plank. With these tips, you’ll plank correctly so you can take your plank to the next level.
Plank exercise benefits
The strength plank is one of the best core exercises for women, and the foundation for workouts with all my clients. There are lots of bodyweight exercises, but the plank is one of my favorites. These are all the reasons why.
Get a full-body workout with one exercise.
Lots of variations to mix up the plank.
Build a strong core.
Gain flexibility and mobility.
Increase your stability.
Prepare you for TRX exercises.
Do it anywhere including at home.
First, planks are a full-body workout. When done right, you literally work everything from your shoulders to your legs. Who doesn’t want to work all their muscles at once?
Planks work your glutes, legs, shoulders, and your back.
Second, there are tons of plank options so the exercise never gets boring. These are some of my favorite planks to strengthen your core, with videos so you get the maximum benefit out of every exercise.
Third, planks build a strong core. While you’re focusing on turning on all your muscles, your core really gets a workout with the plank, better than situps or crunches. A strong core is essential to everyday movements, so you don’t get hurt. You use it more often than you think.
When you’re exercising, you always want to fire that core. Yet, it’s really hard to do.
Fourth, you build flexibility in your shoulders and mobility throughout your body. The variations have your body in different ways, making you more mobile.
Also, planks build stability. If you’re just starting off and trying to add movement to your plank, you may find your shoulders drop or your hips move. That’s because you don’t have the stability yet in your body. That will come with time.
I also like planks because they are a big part of TRX workouts. In my at-home TRX workout program, which you can try for FREE, I’m always telling my members to chase their plank! It’s an essential part of almost every TRX exercise.
So, start on the ground and focus on the bodyweight plank before mastering the TRX plank.
Finally, you can plank anywhere including at home. You don’t need any equipment – just your bodyweight. You can create so much tension with your own body that it acts as its own resistance. No bands or equipment needed.
How about a bonus reason the plank is a great exercise for a strong core? There are lots of plank options including so this exercise never gets boring!
Plank challenge drawbacks
Planks are such a great bodyweight exercise, you’ve probably seen plank challenges to build your core. All you have to do is a plank for 30 days. Most of these challenges focus on endurance, or how long you can hold a plank. You build up your time over a month. Other challenges focus on different plank movements. They typically promise an ab transformation in 30 days.
Who doesn’t want amazing before and after results, in just 30 days with one simple exercise? It sounds amazing right?
While challenges like this are motivating, I think fitness is more than just a challenge. There’s not a start and finish line for fitness. It’s a lifestyle that you always have to work on. You’ll see the best fitness results when you shift your mindset and focus on attainable and sustainable goals rather than amazing transformations or weight loss. Here’s how to get started changing your mindset so you’re motivated to workout and positive about your fitness level.
My focus is always on the feeling when you rock a workout. Chase the experience and the feeling and the results will follow!
Planks for beginners
So, let’s focus on that strength plank and making it an amazing bodyweight exercise.
We’re going to start with the basics, so you can plank even if you’re a beginner or you can get more out of it if you’re of an advanced fitness level. I do this with all my new clients that come to me for personal training.
We’re going to do two planks. First, an endurance plank and second a strength plank.
First, get on the floor and hold a plank for 60 seconds.
Do a form check throughout the 60 seconds. Make sure your butt is not up in the air and not sagging down to the floor. Make sure your shoulders, hips, and ankles are all in line with each other.
If you can’t do a plank on your arms, you can always go to your knees.
How do you feel after holding the plank? Was it tough or could you have held it for several more minutes? Let me know in the comments.
That’s an endurance plank where you hang out and see how long you can hold it. For this exercise, we just did 60 seconds and but likely you can hold it longer.
Correct plank form
Now, how to plank correctly. For my clients, I focus on a strength plank that works your whole body. If you focus on perfect plank form every time, you’ll get more out of your workouts.
With a full-body plank, you create as much tension in your body as you can.
- Squeeze your butt.
- Flex your quads.
- Pull the shoulders down and squeeze through the armpits to engage your lats.
- Turn on your back.
- Pull your feet together.
- Create lots of tension until you shake.
These should be so difficult, you want to do 6, :10 holds. Keep the duration short so you really focus on creating tension.
Keep your feet together so your thighs are squeezing together.
Squeeze your butt like someone is going to put something in your butt. You want to hold it in there.
This plank should be harder than the first plank. Think about this the next time you see a plank challenge. Chase strength rather than a number on a clock! That will give you the transformation you really want.
These are other variations of a strength plank that you can do to build a strong core. The plank is just one of my favorite bodyweight exercises. Check out my other bodyweight favorites.
One of my other favorites is the side plank. It’ll work your oblique muscles, which run up the side of your abs. It’s a great core exercise for strength.
Ready to focus on your core for an entire workout? Try this core workout! You can do it at home or in the gym.
Was the strength plank harder than the first one where you chase a time?