The plank is a very popular and beloved exercise because of how simple yet effective it is. Holding a plank and integrating it into your exercise routine helps strengthen your core and tone muscles. And if you think that planks only work your core muscles, they actually work several other muscle groups all over the body, especially around your thighs and arms. It also helps straighten your posture and help relieve any back pain that you may have.
There are many more advantages to doing regular planks. However, if you’ve been doing them for a while, you might find that they aren’t as challenging as they used to be. Despite having proper form and holding it for a minute every time, they might have even become boring for you.
For anyone who wants to feel more of a challenge when doing the plank, here are some ways to raise the difficulty level just in time for your next workout!
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Mountain Climbers with Ankle Weights
There are many variations to the plank that fitness instructors have introduced to make it more interesting. One of these variations is known as the mountain climbers, and the move requires you to raise one leg and bring your knee to your chest before repeating it with the opposite leg. It’s a great way to work on your core, as well as your stamina if done quickly, but you can make it harder for yourself by adding ankle weights.
Ankle weights are little pieces of weights that you can strap around your ankle to make certain moves more challenging, and they can help make your mountain climbers more effective. The added weight will not only challenge your core just a bit more, but it will also give you the extra added burn around your thighs and glutes whenever you bring your leg to your chest.
SpiderMan Plank with Sliders
It might seem like a weird name for a plank exercise, but it’s pretty appropriate considering you have to bring your knees to the side. Either in a forearm plank or a straight arm plank, you’ll want to bring your knees up. But unlike the mountain climbers that have you bring your knees to your chest, the spiderman planks will have you bring your knees outwards instead.
It’s an effective way to feel the burn around your abs, but also your obliques and your glutes. If you’re looking for a way to raise the bar on this exercise, you can put your toes on some sliders so that you can crank up the heat and go through more reps faster. Sliders usually have a smoothened bottom, which makes it great for these exercises that require quick movements.
Plank with a Row with Dumbbells
The traditional plank already works multiple muscle groups all at once, but you can try out this variation if you’re looking to tone your arms. Start by holding onto some dumbbells and getting into a straight arm plank. Once you’ve made sure that you have the right form, you can begin lifting one dumbbell to your chest before doing the same with the other.
Apart from lifting the weights, your arms are also working to keep your plank steady, so this exercise will really get into your shoulder and bicep muscles. For more of a challenge, you can add a push up after each lift.
Plank Jackknifes with a Yoga Ball
Definitely don’t try this unless you’re more advanced in working out. The plank jackknife is a relatively advanced variation of the plank that’s effective for improving both strength and stability but should always be done with caution.
Starting in a straight arm plank with your lower legs on the exercise ball, gently lift your hips into a downward dog position until your toes are balancing on the ball. After a second or two, lower your body back into a normal plank and repeat. As mentioned, this is a much harder move compared to other plank variations, so make sure that you don’t rush each movement to prevent any injuries or accidents.
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