Planks and variants thereof are a staple in the fitness community for good reason. These fairly simple movements can be easily implemented into your workout routine and build your core’s ability to stabilize. This will help keep you from injuring yourself and aids you in power output for whatever activity you need it for. In this article, I will discuss and explain a few plank variations different than your typical front and side planks. They will serve as solid options to progress to after mastering the front and side planks.
Variation #1: Side Plank with Leg Lift
This variation is decently popular but still very underrated. I have been using it with a lot of clients lately. Many people can’t do it well but mastering this move will not only work the core but also shore up lateral hip issues as well. To perform this move, hop into a side plank position on your elbow. Have your feet stacked on top one another instead of staggered. This puts just one foot in direct contact with the ground. Be sure your hips are locked out instead of kicking back to make a shorter lever arm and cheat the movement. Now, raise your top leg as high as you can. Lower it back down to the other foot with control. This is one rep. Be very attentive to your hip position. As you lift your top leg, the stability that foot provided is no longer there and it is up to your other hip to take care of the load alone. This works the raising leg’s lateral hip musculature concentrically and eccentrically during a rep while maintaining an isometric contraction on the bottom leg’s lateral hip musculature. In layman’s terms, it hits the muscles in every type of contraction. So keep those hips from sagging and enjoy!
Beginner: 5 sets of 3 controlled reps per side, rest as needed
Intermediate: 3 sets of 8-10 reps per side , rest as needed
Advanced: 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, 10 reps per side without any rest between
Variation #2: Pushup to Plank
For this variant, start in the pushup position with a straight back and tight core. Take one hand off the floor and put that forearm on the ground. Repeat with your other arm. Now, you should be in a strong front plank position. Lift one forearm off the floor and place that hand down. Repeat for the other arm. This will find you back in your pushup position. Transferring back and forth from these variations may seem simple, and it is…but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. Switch up which hand moves first to avoid imbalances.
Beginner: 3 sets of 6 reps, rest as needed
Intermediate: 3 sets of 20 seconds, rest as needed
Advanced: 4 sets of 30 seconds
Variation #3: H-hold
To setup for this variation, start in your typical front plank. Then, lift your left arm and right leg just off the ground without twisting or bending your torso. This will make for some great ipsolateral isometric training. Switch sides when you’ve completed your hold duration.
Beginner: 3 sets of 6-10 seconds per side, rest as needed
Intermediate: 3 sets of 20 seconds per side, rest as needed
Advanced: Tabata protocol, 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off for 8 rounds. Switch sides each round.
These plank variations will be a great way for you to mix up your training and better prepare yourself for whatever your goals are!