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4 Plank Variations To Progress Your Core Workout [#2]

Seems to me that sooo many people are after the “washboard” stomach with visible abs. But little do they know that a) genetics probably play a huge part and b) it’s as much about, if not more about, diet than it is exercise. Personally, I’ve always been more interested in what my core can do rather than how it looks; if they come hand in hand though, I wouldn’t complain. I’ve already shared with you how to perfect your form for the plank and I’ve even shared some progressions for the plank already but I’m back, as there are more plank variations I wanna share with you to help you take your core strength to the next level! Throw down your yoga mat… let’s get started…

Drill 1. SIDE PLANK WITH LEG LIFT

This one is great for feeling like you’ve tightened your waist but you also get some glute work done at the same time.

  • Beginner – 10-15 seconds on each side
  • Intermediate – 30 seconds on each side
  • Advanced – 45-60 seconds on each side

Begin by laying on your side, placing your elbow on the floor just under your shoulder. Bend your bottom leg to 90 degrees at the knee and keep your top leg straight.

Raise your hips to lift up onto that elbow. You want to imagine a straight line running from your head through your shoulder, hip, knee, ankle and really lift up through your waist.

Pulse your top leg by bringing it off the floor and back down just above the floor. The movements should be small and at a moderate pace. Keep pulsing the top leg for the designated time.

Wanna kick it up a notch?! You can straighten your bottom leg to make the drill more challenging.

Drill 2. PLANK KICK BACK

Hopefully the burn from your triceps will keep you from focusing on the burn in your core 😉

  • Beginner – 15 seconds on each side / 6 reps on each side
  • Intermediate – 30 seconds on each side / 10-12 reps on each side
  • Advanced – 45 seconds on each side / 12-15 reps on each side

Start in plank position with hands directly under shoulders. If using a weight, place it next to the hand you will use first.

Picking the weight up, or with no weight, remove your hand from the ground by bending the elbow. From this position, lengthen your hand back towards your heels. Return to bent elbow and repeat before placing your hand back down to the ground.

Need to tone it down a bit?! Try taking your feet further apart for more stability. If you need more, then drop your knees to the ground making sure you keep the weight over your chest and hips down.

n.b this drill is considerable easier with a dumbbell rather than a kettlebell but I realised I packed up my dumbbells and shipped them off when I was having a tidy up to put my place on the market! doh!


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Drill 3. PLANK ROW TO ROTATION

Another double whammy with this drill, working on core stability as well as hitting up your obliques (sides). Goes without saying that your arms will see the benefits of all these plank variations too!

  • Beginner – 15 seconds on each side / 6 reps on each side
  • Intermediate30 seconds on each side / 10-12 reps on each side
  • Advanced – 45 seconds on each side / 12-15 reps on each side

Start in plank position with hands directly under shoulders. If using a weight, place it next to the hand you will use first.

Row: Picking the weight up, or with no weight, remove your hand from the ground by bending the elbow, squeezing from your shoulder blade to get your elbow high up past your back.

Rotation: From there, straighten the arm as you rotate your body into a side plank ensuring that both shoulders and hips are stacked above each other.

Return to plank through the same positions.

Too much too soon?! Try moving your feet further apart for more stability.

Up the burn?! stack your feet on the rotation to get into a full side plank

n.b this drill is considerable easier with a dumbbell rather than a kettlebell but I realised I packed up my dumbbells and shipped them off when I was having a tidy up to put my place on the market! doh!

Drill 4. PLANK WALK

This one is great when you’re not sure which side of the fence you sit on about which version of plank (high or elbows) is the easiest. Sorted. Do both.

  • Beginner – 30 secs, alternating sides
  • Intermediate60 secs, alternating sides
  • Advanced – 90 secs, alternating sides

Begin in plank position with hands directly under shoulders and feet hip width apart.

One side at a time, replace your hands with our elbows bringing yourself into a forearm plank position with elbows directly under shoulders. Try not to swing your hips too much by keeping your core engaged but ensure you lower your hips down to shoulder height.

Wanna go all out?! I feel like there must be a version where you ‘walk’ down to elbows and then ‘jump’ back up to your hands?! is there?! IS THERE?! hahaha.


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Workout With These Plank Variations

Here’s a simple, but probably tough little workout for you to try. It’s obviously gonna be great for your core with all these exercises but it’ll also work on your cardiovascular fitness:

  • 10 burpees
  • SIDE PLANK WITH LEG LIFT for chosen time (beginner, intermediate, advanced)
  • 10 burpees
  • PLANK KICK BACK for chosen time
  • 10 burpees
  • PLANK ROW TO ROTATION for chosen time
  • 10 burpees
  • PLANK WALK for chosen time
  • repeat the round

Version or Round 2:

  • 10 kettlebell swings
  • SIDE PLANK WITH LEG LIFT for chosen time (beginner, intermediate, advanced)
  • 10 kettlebell swings
  • PLANK KICK BACK for chosen time
  • 10 kettlebell swings
  • PLANK ROW TO ROTATION for chosen time
  • 10 kettlebell swings
  • PLANK WALK for chosen time
  • repeat the round

Let me know if you give all of these plank variations a go and what you think. I heard someone say that we spend so much time in our day to day life leaning forward that when we’re trying to work our core, we should avoid the ‘sit up’ position as much as possible and work through the plank position. Here’s to a strong core and being fit for life!

Elle

p.s Safety always comes first. If you are new to exercise ensure you seek advice from your GP. Make sure you drink plenty of fluids, wear appropriate clothing and carry out drills in a suitable space. Technique is paramount, and nothing should hurt. Should you experience pain, discomfort, nausea, dizziness, chest pain, shortness of breath etc, STOP and consult your GP. 

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