Today I wanted to talk about plank alternatives because many of my clients do them to help strengthen their core. They work no matter where you are in your fitness journey, no matter if you’re beginning or more advanced. Plank variations help strengthen your core and tone your abs, shoulders, and back. These exercises are perfect for athletes looking to diversify their workout routine or someone just starting out and wanting to build a strong core.

Benefits of Plank Variations

Plank variations offer a great way to challenge your core muscles and build strength. By challenging yourself with different poses, you can target specific areas of your body and build muscle more efficiently. Additionally, plank variations help improve balance, posture, and coordination while engaging your core.

Before we get into the poses…

Disclaimer: I am not a physician. I am providing content for information purposes only based on my own personal experience, research, and my client’s experiences. Always seek advice from your practitioner regarding medical conditions or treatment options, and never delay due diligence in taking care of your body.

Let’s Look at Some Examples

Shoulder pain got you down? If so, try poses that put your hands under your shoulders instead of in front. By doing this, you take the pressure off your shoulders and minimize the strain on your rotator cuff–which can often cause injuries.

To avoid wrist discomfort during planks, do a pose where your arms are at a 90-degree angle instead of straight.

If you need more balance, you should take advantage of plank alternatives. As you get stronger, you can move on to more advanced poses, such as the single-leg plank. Not only will this help you to build balance, but it can also help you target specific muscles.

Looking for extra intensity? Try a plank with added resistance. For example, do a plank with a flat weight plate on your back. It will help you to build more stability and strength in your core muscles.

No matter what your fitness level is, there are plank variations that can help you challenge your core and build strength effectively.

How Much Should I Plank?

It is recommended that you start at 30 seconds in a plank position. Start adding on 10 seconds at a time when you notice your current time gets easy. However, listening to your body and avoiding any uncomfortable pains or straining is crucial. Planks can be incredibly beneficial for your health and fitness with practice and dedication.

Also, if you are practicing a move like the bird dog, you’ll have the choice of counting reps or the amount of time you hold the position.

Plank Variations to Try

Below are 10 plank variations. Get creative with them. Challenge your core, build strength and have fun with it!

Russian Twists

The Russian twist is better than the traditional plank because it focuses on the entire core. It makes the upper and lower body stronger. For a beginner-level weightlifter, the Russian twist exercise can be a choice to improve lower and upper body mass and strength when compared to plank.

Bird Dog

The bird dog focuses on the core muscles. It helps to strengthen the lower body, including your hips and glutes, while also engaging your upper body and core. Think stability here. The more stable you hold your body throughout the exercise, the stronger your core becomes. By alternating between different sets of muscles with each repetition, you can achieve better balance and stability in your core. 

Ab Roll-Outs

The ab roll-out is a plank alternative that focuses on the entire core. It helps improve balance and posture while strengthening the abs, obliques, and back muscles. This is an excellent exercise for beginner-level weightlifters because it helps to increase the intensity of your core workout safely. 

Scissor-Kicks Under

The scissor-kick underneath a barbell focuses on the lower and upper body. It makes the core and shoulder muscles stronger. Performing this exercise is easier than the plank, but it’s harder than the Russian twist. For a beginner-level weightlifter, this exercise can be a choice to improve lower and upper body mass and strength when compared to plank.

Twisting Hanging Leg Raise

The twisting hanging leg raise focuses on the shoulders, back, and core. It builds back and shoulders stability while increasing the core muscles’ strength and size. It’s also a good choice for those who want to do something other than floor exercises. 

Cable Rope Crunches

The cable rope crunch is a plank alternative that activates your upper and lower abs. It strengthens the ab muscles while also providing resistance to the obliques and lower back muscles. This is the perfect workout for strengthening your core for deadlifts, pull-ups, and bench presses. 

Twisting Piston

The twisting piston is another plank alternative that focuses on the entire core. It is more complex than the traditional plank. It requires consistently holding your knees off the ground while jumping from side to side. The workout is for more advanced individuals.

Dead Bug

The dead bug is a Plank alternative that focuses on the core muscles. It helps improve balance and posture while strengthening the abs, obliques, and back muscles. This is an excellent exercise for beginner-level weightlifters because it helps to increase the intensity of your core workout safely. The dead bug is a great choice for those looking for an alternative to the Plank exercise.

Plank Jacks

Plank jacks combine cardio and core strength. This exercise helps to strengthen the lower body while also engaging the core and upper body muscles for stability. It is a great exercise for beginners because it helps to increase the intensity gradually as you become more comfortable with the movements.

Reverse Crunch

The reverse crunch is an easy plank alternative. The movement is easy to do. It improves the core and can help make your six-pack more visible. But don’t be fooled. Even though it’s easy, it could be more effective for both beginner and pro athletes.

Who Should Avoid Planks

If you are a beginner or have any back injury, planks should be avoided as they can strain your lower back. People who are pregnant, have a herniated disc, or have osteoporosis should also avoid planks. It is always recommended to consult a healthcare professional before starting any exercise.

Looking For A Customized Plank Alternative Workout Plan

I am working on a plank program for beginner, intermediate and advanced fitness levels. I will inform you of its release. If you’d like to be notified of its release, subscribe to my newsletter here. 

And remember, don’t play with your body. You only get one.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some frequent inquiries about plank variations.

Are planks better than sit-ups?

It depends on your goals. Planks are generally better for developing core strength, while sit-ups are better for working the rectus abdominis muscle.

Do planks burn fat or build muscle?

Planks are a fantastic way to build core strength and stability. However, they do not directly burn fat. To burn fat, you will need to combine planks with other forms of exercise, such as cardiovascular and resistance training.

Do heel touches make your waist smaller?

Heel touches are great for toning and strengthening the core muscles. At the same time, they will not make your waist smaller. To minimize your waist size, you will need to combine heel touches with aerobic and resistance exercises.

What is the average waist size for a woman?

The average waist size for a woman varies depending on her height and body shape. For example, the average waist measurement for a 5’4″ woman is 33 inches. However, this measurement can vary depending on a person’s individual body type and fitness level.