I’m sure you already know that planks are one of the best exercises you can do to work your core. Not only are planks really versatile and travel-friendly, they also work more than 20 muscles, including your abdominal muscles, obliques, shoulders, quads, glutes, and more.
I don’t know about you though, but I can’t imagine anything more boring than just hanging out in a basic plank for minutes upon end. Sure, static holds are great to include in your training (which is why I often include them as a bonus for after your workout), but dang can they get boring pretty quickly.
So here are 8 plank variations you can do to mix up your core training:
Plank get ups
Plank get ups are one of my very favorite variations on the list because they take the classic static plank and make them into a killer dynamic move that really works your core and shoulders.
To do them, get into a plank position with your shoulders directly over your hands. Squeeze your abs and push through your shoulders, then lower down to your elbow on one side, then follow with the other side. Straighten one arm then the other until you’re back in the starting plank position, switch starting arms and repeat.
You can see a short video demonstration of plank get ups here .
Plank with feet on a Swiss/stability ball
Swiss balls are a really great way to add some instability to any exercise, automatically making the exercise more challenging.
To do this plank, grab a Swiss ball, then simply put your feet up on the ball and hold. You’ll notice you’re probably much more wobbly than during your normal basic planks.
Bird dog plank (single arm/single leg plank)
Bird dog planks are really great for working your body unilaterally in order to iron out any possible imbalances. Plus, they’re just a good challenge.
To do them, get into a basic plank, then lift one arm and the opposite leg and hold. Try and keep your core tight and refrain from letting your hips from getting too much to one side. And make sure to switch sides!
If this is too tough for you right now, go ahead and just lift your arm and leg separately. If you want even more of a challenge, try putting your bottom leg and/or hand on unstable surfaces like a BOSU ball.
Elevated knee touches
Elevated knee touches are another one of my favorite plank variations because they combine a plank with side crunches for a super badass exercise you can do pretty much anywhere.
Start in a plank position with your feet on a box or elevated surface with your hands on the floor in front of you. Tighten your core and push through your shoulders, then bring one knee towards your elbow on the same side. Return your leg towards the starting position and repeat on the other side.
Watch the video to see this one in action.
Plank crunches on a Swiss ball
Plank crunches on a Swiss ball are a fun variation of the classic crunch/sit up.
Start in a plank with your feet on the ball, then pull your knees in toward your chest, crunching your abs and pulling the ball toward you. Push the ball back out with your legs.
Plank pike ups on a Swiss ball
Plank pike ups on a Swiss ball are an awesome exercise that will not only target your core, they’ll help you get better at your handstand positioning as well.
To do them, get in a plank with your shins on the Swiss ball, making sure to keep everything tight. Roll forward so you’re on top of your shoulders in a pike position. Try to get a stretch through your shoulders as you keep your core tight and point your toes, then roll back down with control.
Forearm plank hip dips
Forearm plank dips will work your entire core while adding a little dynamic movement into the mix. Do enough of these and your abs will burn!
Start by getting into a forearm plank, then dip your hips to one side to touch the ground, making sure to keep your core tight the whole time. Dip to the other side, then repeat. You can also put a small medicine ball (or maybe a baseball?) underneath your abdominals to make sure you’re not cheating and going down too low.
Side plank crunches
Side plank crunches are a fun way to target your obliques (aka your side abs). And let’s be honest here – they’ll probably challenge your balance and coordination as well.
Do these by getting into a side plank position with one foot on top of the other, squeezing your abs and butt as you do so. Bend your top arm, then bring your top knee towards your top arm in a side crunch. Return to the starting position and repeat. Make sure to switch sides!
Watch the video of these here .