5 Benefits Plank Exercise For Body And 10 Ways To Do Plank

The plank is one of the best exercises you can do for your core because it builds isometric strength to help sculpt your waistline and improve your posture. Plank exercise is a safe, challenging, and effective method of core conditioning.

Variations of planks are used across many fitness disciplines, including Boot Camp Regimens, Yoga, Pilates, Barre, CrossFit, and many more. And depending on the type of plank you try, you can also engage your back, arms, shoulders, glutes, and hamstrings.

The benefits of plank exercise are numerous. They not only strengthen the abs but also entire core and many other muscle groups in the upper and lower body. Practicing regularly may also improve your posture. If you are looking for some variation or just a new fitness challenge, then try adding plank poses to your exercise routine.


It is a strength training exercise so one of the key benefits is obviously to improve your strength in various areas. Lets take a closer look at the actual exercise. If you look closely at the front plank, you will notice the muscle groups being challenged.

If you’ve never tried one, a plank may look easy, almost too easy to be beneficial, but this is deceiving. While getting into the proper form is straightforward, holding the position takes strength and endurance in your abs, back, and core.

The plank is one of the best exercises for core conditioning but it also works your glutes and hamstrings, supports proper posture, and improves balance.

When you perform plan exercises, you work all of the muscles that make up your core and gain all of the benefits that come with building a strong core. As if that wasn't enough, planks also work the following muscles:

Upper Body
  •         Trapezius.
  •         Rhomboid major and minor.
  •         Rotator cuff.
  •         Anterior, medical and posterior delts.
  •         Pectorals.
  •         Triceps.
  •         Biceps.

Lower Body
  •         Quadriceps
  •         Gastrocnemius (calf muscle).
See Also : Aerobic Exercise and Weight Loss

5 Benefits of Doing Planks

Planking has become increasingly popular for core strengthening, and for good reason: it works – in large part because it engages multiple muscle groups simultaneously. What are some of the benefits you can expect from adding this exercise to your regular routine?

1. A Toned Belly

Planking will help build your deep inner core muscles that lay the groundwork for that six-pack look. As your abdominal muscles become stronger, your mid-section will tighten.

Keep in mind, however, that in order to really get "six-pack" abs, you have to shed fat. For men that would be a body fat of about 6 percent, and women around 9 percent, in order to achieve that classic six-pack. This is not necessarily healthy.
2. Reduce Back Pain

Planks work for back pain because they strengthen your core, which has the pleasant “side effect” of reducing back pain. They also strengthen your back muscles, especially those in your upper back. According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE):2

Because the plank exercise requires minimal movement while contracting all layers of the abdominal fascia, it is an excellent way to strengthen the core, which, in turn, helps reduce low-back pain.”

3. Flexibility

While building strength, planks also increase flexibility in your posterior muscle groups. The muscles around your shoulders, collarbone, and shoulder blades will expand and stretch (an area that often receives little attention), as will your hamstrings and even the arches of your feet and your toes.

If you do a side plank, you can also stretch out your sides (especially if you extend your arm up over your head in line with your body). To increase the stretching benefits, try a rocking plank – once in basic plank form, rock your body back and forth by moving your toes a few inches either way.3

4. Improve Your Mood

Virtually every exercise has the potential to give you a mood boost, and planks are no exception. Planks are unique, however, in that they help stretch and ultimately relax muscles groups that often become stiff and tense from prolonged sitting. The tension release that planks provide is uplifting for your spirit.

5. Improve Your Balance and Posture

To do a plank correctly, you must engage your abs to stay upright. Side planks or planks with extensions are particularly beneficial for building balance, as are planks performed on a stability ball. To test and strengthen your balance, try a side plank with a leg raise – get into side plank position, then lift your top leg and hold for one count. Lower it and repeat, then switch sides.4 In addition, planks work all the muscles you need to maintain proper posture, like your back, chest, shoulders, abs, and neck. If you do planks regularly, you’ll find you’re able to sit or stand up straighter with ease.
See Also : How To Design A Weight Loss Cardio Program

10 Ways to do a Plank

1. Forearm Plank

Get into a push-up position with your weight on your forearms and toes. Align your elbows on the floor under your shoulders. Make a straight line from your head to your heels and hold this position for 20 seconds while breathing gently. Now, rest for 30 seconds by placing your knees on the floor. Repeat this exercise 3 times, working your way up to a total of 6 reps. The forearm plank targets your abs, back, arms, and legs.

2. Straight-arm plank

Straight Arm Plank is the mother of all plank variations. It’s an isometric core strengthening exercise. It involves maintaining one position for extended period of time. The exercise helps to imporve a posture, prevent or reverse postural deficiencies, strengthen core and tighten up a midsection. Isometric exercises are common for injury rehabilitation or reconditioning. Kneel on all fours with hands directly under shoulders. Come onto toes, contract abs, and straighten legs; keep body in line from head to heels.

3. One Arm, One Leg Plank 

One of the easiest ways to get into the plank position is to start off in the pushup position (using a mat on the ground is ideal). Lower your forearms flat to the ground so that your elbows and fists are both on the ground and so that your weight is supported by your toes and forearms. Keep your abs tight and engaged and make sure that your body is in a straight line, like a plank of wood.

Your neck and spine should be neutral. Continue to flex your abs and squeeze your glutes. Keeping your left forearm still on the mat, raise your right arm straight in front of you. Also, lift your opposite leg (your left leg) straight back and off the floor, while keeping your right foot still on the mat. Hold for 15-20 seconds.  Try 30 seconds if you’re feeling brave! Switch sides and do the same now, extending the left arm and the right leg. This is one set.  Complete 3 sets with 30 seconds to 1 minute rest in between each set.

4. Side Plank

From plank position, press your right hand into a mat and turn your body so your weight is on the outer edge of your right foot; stack your left foot on top. Imagine you have a big beach ball under your right side; press your torso up and away from the ball, extending your left arm with fingers pointed toward the sky. Tighten your lower-ab muscles and brace your entire core. Hold for 60 seconds, then return to plank position and repeat on the left side; that’s 1 rep. Do 3 reps.

5. Plank jack

The plank jack is a great cardio move; it raises the heart rate while working both your lower and upper body. Begin in plank position, with your shoulders over your wrists, your body in one straight line, and your feet together.  Like the motion of a jumping jack, jump your legs wide and then back together. Jump as quickly as you want, but keep your pelvis steady and don't let your booty rise toward the ceiling. Do a total of 30 jumping jacks, which counts as one set. Then complete two more sets.
6. Side plank crunch

Combine your standard crunches with side plank into one move that will challenge your balance, tone up your waist, and strengthen your core. Start incorporating this move into your regular workout routine. Begin in a side elbow plank with your left elbow down and your right hand behind your head. Keeping your torso stable and your waist lifted, bring your right leg up toward your shoulder to lightly tap your right elbow.  Lengthen your right leg back to the starting position to complete one rep.

7. Dolphin Plank

Dolphin Plank builds strength through resistance of your body's weight, which helps to increase bone density. This pose strengthens the arms, legs, and core muscles, including the abdomen, chest, and low back. It also strengthens the muscles around the spine, which helps to improve posture. In addition, Dolphin Plank stretches the shoulders, hamstrings, calves, and feet.

Begin on your hands and knees. Align your wrists directly under your shoulders, and your knees under your hips. Lower your elbows to the floor directly beneath your shoulders. Keep your forearms parallel to each other and to the side edges of your mat. 

Tuck your toes and step back with your feet, bringing your body and head into one straight line. Align your heels over your toes. Keep your thighs lifted and take care not to let your hips sink too low. If your butt sticks up in the air, realign your body so your shoulders are directly above your elbows.

Contract your abdominals and draw your pelvic floor muscles toward your spine. Keep your head in line with your spine. Broaden across your shoulder blades and collarbone. Gaze between your hands, or toward the top edge of your mat. Press the front of your thighs (quadriceps) up toward the ceiling while lengthening your tailbone toward your heels.

Hold the pose while breathing smoothly for five breaths. Advanced practitioners and those using the pose to build stamina can hold for up to five minutes. To release the pose, slowly lower onto your knees, then press back into Child’s Pose (Balasana) and rest. Repeat up to 10 times.

8. Plank/pelvis tuck

This exercise works both the rectus abdominus (six-pack) and transverse abdominus (waist-cinching corset muscles).

Lie facedown with legs extended, elbows bent, feet hip-width apart, elbows shoulder-width apart. Contract abs, then tuck toes to lift body, elbows directly under shoulders. Hold for 4 breaths. Bend knees (do not touch ground), tilt pelvis up; hold for 4 breaths. Keeping abs tight, straighten legs, hold for 4 breaths. Repeat 3 times

9. Twisting knee plank

Get into a straight-arm plank. Twist your lower body to the left, then to the right; return to center. Bring your left knee forward to touch your left elbow; hold for 1 second, then return to center and repeat on the right side. That’s 1 rep; do 20 reps.

10. Side plank with twist

Lie on your right side with forearm directly under shoulder, hand perpendicular to your body, and legs stacked. Engage your abs and the right side of your waist, lifting your hips so your body forms a straight line from head to feet. Extend your left arm toward the sky, staying engaged through your core .

Now scoop your left arm in front of your body and reach under the space between your chest and the ground, twisting only from the waist up. Come back up; repeat 4 times, then lower body to the ground. Repeat on the opposite side