Want Abs? 14 Different Types of Planks From Beginner To Advanced (images).

Want Abs? 14 Different Types of Planks From Beginner To Advanced (images).

We’ve all heard of the plank – what we may or may not realize is how many different types of planks exist. There are so many plank variations to choose from – or to combine together for an unbeatable abs workout!

What is the plank exercise?

The plank is an isometric core exercise where you hold a push-up like position for as long as you can (or directed by your workout plan.)

What do planks do for your body?

The plank exercise mainly strengthens your abs, however, your abs are not the only muscle group that will get a workout. Depending on the plank variation that you do, you may also work your back, arms, shoulders, and glutes.

The plank exercise is so important, that I started Fitness Reloaded with this very article!

A little background: This article actually was the very first article I wrote for Fitness Reloaded on July 201th of 2011. I’m updating it now to make it better and reflect more of the different types of planks that are available to us. The image below actually reflects how the article looked like when I first published it 5 years ago!

The plank
The plank

Notice the jeans? I wore jeans on purpose because I wanted everyone to know that you don’t even have to change into training gear to exercise. My goal has always been to help people make exercise a habit.

Now let’s examine the 14 different types of planks. The planks below are all taken from my book Flat Belly Firm Butt in 16 Minutes. I’m listing them here with an order from easier (planks for beginners) to harder (planks for intermediate and advanced exercisers.)

Different Types of Planks: Plank Variations For Complete Beginners & Beginners

#1. Elbow Plank

This is the base exercise for all the plank series. You may also hear it called the “forearm plank.” Lay stomach down on the floor with your feet together. Place your elbows under your shoulders, and lift your body up into a straight plank.
Do not push your pelvis up, and do not let your hips sink down. Contract your abs, and hold this position for as long as you can.

elbow plank beginner yoga

#2. Elbow Plank Bend & Straighten

Get into an elbow plank position. Now bend your knees without touching the floor. Then quickly straighten your legs. Repeat.

plank variation - elbow plank bend and straighten

#3. Elbow Plank With Hip Twists

Get into an elbow plank position. Now twist your hips to the left and then to the right. You may have the tendency to slightly raise your hips as you’re twisting—avoid it!
Make sure you maintain the plank position as you’re twisting your torso, and don’t let either your hips go up or your body sink in.

elbow plank with hip twists

Different Types of Planks: Plank Variations For Beginner & Intermediate Exercisers

#4. Regular Plank

This is similar to the elbow plank, only harder. Lay stomach down on the floor with your feet together. Place your hands under your shoulders, and lift your body up into a plank. Keep it straight.
Do not push your pelvis up, and do not let your hips sink down. Contract your abs, and hold this position for as long as you can.

plank variations - regular plank yoga

#5. Shoulder Plank

Get into a plank position. Then use your shoulder blades to lift your upper body one inch. If this is hard to picture, then imagine that you’re pushing against the floor, lifting your upper back up.
Don’t move your hips. All the motion comes from your shoulders. Then release and return to starting position.
shoulder plank serratus anterior

#6. Plank with arm up

Get down to a classic elbow or plank position. Slowly lift one arm up. Hold this position then repeat for the other arm.

types of planks - plank with arm up

Different Types of Planks: Plank Variations For Intermediate Exercisers

#7. Plank Open & Close

Go down into plank position. Then jump and open your legs more than hip width apart. Quickly jump again, and bring your feet together to starting position.
If jumping is hard, then just step to the sides to open your legs and then step again, one leg at a time, to bring them back together.

different types of planks - plank open and close

#8. Plank In & Out

Go down into plank position. With your body straight, jump forward, bringing your feet a couple of inches behind your palms. Quickly jump back to starting position and repeat.
If jumping is too hard, then just step to the front and then step to the back.

plank in and out

#9. Plank With Alternating Side Leg

Go down into a plank position. It can either be an elbow plank or it can be a regular plank. Balancing on one leg, bend your other knee and bring your leg to the side. Then repeat for your other leg.
This is a hip-opener plank. You’ll need to really work your obliques and your outer thighs in order to bring your leg to the side, high above the floor.
You may have the tendency to drop your leg down as you’re bringing it to the side. Resist this urge by contracting your obliques and outer thighs. We really want those muscles to work. In FB16, we only have sixteen minutes, so for those sixteen minutes, we want to be effective and efficient. We don’t want to just let time pass. We don’t want to just say we worked out. Try to do your best.
plank with alternating side leg

#10. Chair Side Plank

You’ll need a chair for this one. Alternatively, you can use the arm of a sofa. Put one forearm on the chair while your body is straight in a side plank. Hold this position, and then change sides.
chair side plank

Different Types of Planks: Plank Variations For Intermediate & Advanced Exercisers

#11. Mountain Climbers

Get down into a plank position (see the abs section for details on the plank). Now bend one knee, bringing one leg to the front without actually placing your foot on the floor. Now jump while you alternate legs.
mountain climbers

#12. Ski Abs

Go down into plank position. Then jump and bring both feet forward and to your right. Jump again and bring your feet back to the plank position.
Then jump once more and bring your feet forward and to the left. Bring your feet back to starting position and repeat.

ski abs

#13. Climbing Plank

In my opinion, this is the hardest variation from the plank series, but it is, oh, so worth it! Get into an elbow plank. Now straighten one arm, then the other, getting up into a regular plank position.
Now climb back down to get into an elbow plank, and repeat.
climbing plank

#14. Chair Side Plank Lifts

Get into a chair side plank position. Lift one leg up and then bring it back down. Then do it again for your other side.

plank variations - chair side plank lifts

What is the next plank you’re going to try? Leave a comment below!

What? Not sure which one to pick? This picture with all 14 different types of planks may help…

14 different types of planks

3 responses to “Want Abs? 14 Different Types of Planks From Beginner To Advanced (images).”

  1. Eva Foukaraki says:

    Mary nice job!!! i follow your exercises and i almost feel better !!!! your episode 5 is exactly what i need…

  2. Maria says:

    Hi Eva!

    That’s great! Keep up the good work! Episode #5 was inspired by your questions! 😀

  3. Mama Mia says:

    Sorry, but these are NOT beginner moves. The ultimate beginner may have to start against a wall
    and move to a bench before progressing to the floor.

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