Plank Four Ways

Plank Four Ways

If you’re like me, on any day you might find yourself in a hotel with a pretty lousy gym, or a green room with gym, or maybe even a parking lot. Planks provide incredibly powerful and effective full body workouts without the need of fancy machines or equipment. You can hold a basic plank for awhile or you can switch it up with some varying planks to target really specific parts of your body.

For each of the plank moves I’ll offer the basic move and then adjustments to bring the intensity down and up.

Start with plank holds of 20 seconds (or less) and work up to holding each of these planks for 1 minute, 2 minutes… 5 minutes!? (Be sure to comment and tell me how long you’re holding your planks!)


Start on hands and knees. Your knees should be directly under your hips and your wrists directly under your shoulders. Your wrist-creases are parallel to the front of your mat and your pointer-fingers point straight forward, so the rest of your fingers might point out a bit. Do a few cows (inhale, belly down, tail and head up and back) and cats (exhale, tummy tucks in and shoulder blades round) to warm up and then move into your plank. With all planks, imagine there’s a line running from the base of your neck, all the way to your achilles tendon. Keep your abdominal muscles engaged and pulled back towards your spine and at the same time, tuck your tail under to keep that straight line. Draw your shoulder blades together and down your back and keep your chest broad across. Push through all of the knuckles and all edges of the hands. 


Your shoulders are directly above your wrists and your heels are directly above your tucked-under toes. Pull the energy forward out of your head in front, and out through the back of your heels behind. Look about 12 inches in front of you to keep the neck long.

Take it down:

Bring your knees to the ground, keeping your shoulders over your wrists.

Take it up:

Lift one leg at a time, striving to keep the other foot in alignment. Lift the leg only to hip height to avoid unevenness in the hips. Flex both feet.

Forearm Plank:

Forearm plank works on the same principles of basic plank, but instead of being on your hands, you’re on your forearms. Your elbows are directly under your shoulders now, and your forearms are straight forward with your wrist creases still in line with the front of the mat and your pointers pointing straight forward. Since you’re closer to the ground in forearm plank, it’s really important to keep your chest open and shoulder blades down the back, so you don’t crunch in your neck or collapse your upper body. Keep the long line out through the head and heels.

Take it down:

Bring your knees down, keeping your chest very broad.

Take it up:

Lift one leg at a time, in line with the hips, keeping both feet flexed.

Side Plank:

Enter side plank from basic plank. Let’s start with the left side. Stack your flexed feet on the left outside foot and make sure your left shoulder is above your wrist. Roll over to your left hand and foot. Flex both feet a lot and push your wrist down to lift your left shoulder up and down your back. Lift your right arm straight up into the sky (still rolling your shoulder back), reach through all of the fingers and lift your hips very high up! If you are able, look up towards your right hand. If that is too challenging for balance, look down or straight forward.

Take it down:

Bring your right foot halfway up your body (around your knee) either in front or behind the other leg, to give your hips more support. Lift your hips high and stretch your right arm into the sky.

Take it up:

Lift your right leg straight up. Keep it in line with the hip. Lift your hips from the bottom hip (left) and flex both feet a lot.

Flying Plank:

Now that your core is super strong, maybe you’d like to fly! Keeping your abdominals in towards the spine, and your tail tucked, reach your right leg straight back, at hip height, with your flexed toes pointing down. Once you’re balanced there, reach your left arm forward with your thumb pointing up towards the sky. Keep your hips down and as even as you can!

Take it down:

Reach one arm forward at a time. The point of balance is shifted greatly, even from lifting your leg instead, so focus on bringing your abs back towards your spine and keeping your shoulder in its socket but at the same time, reaching out through your fingertips.

Take it up:

Flying crunches! Keeping your hips as even as possible, crunch in the extended arm and leg, at the same time, towards the middle of your tummy, rounding your upper back and trying to touch your knee to elbow. Hold, and extend again. Repeat as many times as you can!

You can take this move down a bit by starting on hands and knees, instead of up on your toes. Do the same crunching move; it’ll just be easier then being fully extended but you’ll still get the effects of the crunching movement to work your obliques.

Cool down with a few more cat/cows, and take some free movement in your spine. Up dog would feel really nice here too to stretch out those abdominals.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *