Anyone who thinks planks are boring is wrong. If you stick to the standard forearm planks every workout, of course they’re going to start to feel stale. But there’s a whole world of plank variations out there, and a good portion of them are so hard they’ll leave puddles of sweat and tears on your mat.
The next time you’re up for a challenge, make your way down this list of planks, starting with the easiest variations then moving on to the ones that will fire up every muscle in your body. You might not feel the burn at first, but trust me—once you make it to the seal-walk plank and breathing plank, you won’t dare call planks boring ever again.
These five plank variations are a testament to that fact, challenging additional muscles as well as your endurance, balance and coordination. So give this routine a try anywhere, anytime, and see how many times you yawn. (We bet it’s zero.)
Muscles Used: core, chest, shoulders, triceps, glutes, hip flexors, quads
- Get into a plank position with your arms extended, your hands directly underneath your shoulders and your head, hips and heels in line.
- Lower into a push-up, then bring one knee forward and to the outside of your elbow and place that foot down by your hand.
- Extend your arms and your forward leg and crawl forward with your hands until you’re again in a plank.
- Continue, alternating sides.
- Keep your body as straight as possible as you crawl.
Muscles Used: core, chest, shoulders, triceps, glutes, hamstrings
- Find a smooth floor surface like tile or hardwood and place a towel under both toes.
- Walk your hands out into a plank position with your hands underneath your shoulders and your head, hips and heels in line.
- Keep your abs tight and your hips square as you walk forward with your hands, pulling your legs behind you.
- At the end of your crawl, reverse direction and push yourself backward.
- Don’t let your hips sag down; fight to keep them lifted by tightening your abs and squeezing your glutes.
Muscles Used: obliques, shoulders, glutes, back, outer thighs
- Lie on your left side with your hips stacked and place your left hand flat on the floor underneath your shoulder.
- Lift your hips and straighten your arm so your body makes a straight line from head to heels.
- Reach your right hand up for the sky, then bring it down and under your body, reaching for the wall behind you.
- Complete all reps on one side before switching.
- If this is too challenging, bend your bottom knee and put it on the ground to support your hips.
Muscles Used: core, chest, triceps, shoulders, glutes, hamstrings, calves
- Get on your hands and knees 4 to 5 feet in front of a wall with your heels facing the wall.
- One at a time, extend your legs and carefully walk them up the wall until they are slightly higher than they would be in a standard plank.
- Hold here and breathe.
- The closer your body is to parallel the more challenging the move.
- So start high and walk your feet down slowly to increase the difficulty.
Muscles Used: core, glutes, abductors, adductors, shoulders, chest
- Get into a plank position with your hands underneath your shoulders and your head, hips and heels in line.
- Jump your feet apart while keeping your hips low, landing on your toes.
- Jump them back to the start to complete one rep.
- Continue, using an even pace.
- Fight the urge to pop your hips up, and keep your head in a neutral position to protect your spine.