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Plank Progressions

If you read my last blog post The Best Core Exercise You Need to Add to Your Routine, then you already know that planks, otherwise known as iso-abs, is a phenomenal exercise that you should incorporate into your workout regime. A plank is a simple, yet highly effective bodyweight exercise that requires no movement, but rather an isometric hold. Exercises that focus on stabilizing muscles are the ones that require little to no movement through the core. You need to be sure that these muscles are properly trained and strengthened before moving on to more complex core exercises.

A standard plank, which is done in a prone position on your elbows and toes is often too challenging for many, and occasionally too easy for others who have already mastered the normal plank. Luckily, there are infinite variations of planks that can be done, and we are going to explore them right now!

Here’s a little tip to help guide you—the more upright your body, the easier the plank. Do it against a wall or place your hands on a bench to start.

Progressions from easiest to hardest working up to a standard plank:

  • Elevated plank - hands on wall

  • Elevated plank - hands on bench

  • Hands and knees

  • Elbows and knees

  • Hands and one knee, with one leg extended

  • Elbows and one knee, with one leg extended

  • Hands and toes (push-up position)

  • Elbows and toes (standard plank)

When beginning with planks, challenge yourself with how long you’re able to hold the position. Start with 4 counts up, and 4 counts down. Work your way up to a 60 second hold with perfect form.

PLANK FORM: Your body should be in a straight line from head to toe. Don’t allow your hips to sink or have your butt in the air. Your feet should be no wider than shoulder-width apart. Don’t arch or hyperextend your back. Make sure your shoulders are in line with your elbows and your hands are pointed straight ahead.

Advanced progressions:

  • Hands and toes with one arm or leg extended

  • Hands and toes with alternating arm or leg extensions

  • Hands and toes with one arm and leg extended

  • Hands and toes with alternating arm and leg extensions

  • Progress all of the above by converting to your elbows and toes

  • Plank up-downs

  • Place your hands on a proprioceptive modality

  • Place your feet on a proprioceptive modality

Proprioceptive modalities include things like foam rolls, stability balls, and BOSU balls.

Remember, progress only when you master each exercise. It’s important to build those stabilizing muscles first and foremost.

Want a stronger core? Consider purchasing my core guide: 12 Weeks to an Efficient Core. Strengthen your core in just 3 12-minutes a week! No equipment required.


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