12 Ways to Plank + 7-Minute Plank Challenge

Plank is the ultimate move to carve out your core, but these 12 plank variations give you total-body strength at the same time. Sculpt sexy abs, shoulders and glutes with this 7 minute plank challenge that you can add onto any workout.

12 Plank Variations for a Stronger Core | www.nourishmovelove.com

Forget crunches, if you want six-pack abs get to planking. Not only will you slim your waistline and strengthen your core, but you’ll fire up every muscle in your body to burn more calories.

I love planking so much that I start every barre class I teach with a 4-minute plank sequence. Now that’s a solid warm up. Seriously, give it a try. Crank up Ben Rector’s Brand New or one of my other favorite jams and turn these 12 plank variations into a solid 7 minute plank routine that you can add onto any workout.

You can start your workout with this 7 minute plank to get the blood pumping and wake up your muscles. Or you can finish your workout with this routine to really tax every muscle in your body to fatigue and failure. Talk about using your body as your ultimate piece of workout equipment. 

I foresee lots of planking in my near future as this month is filled with travel. Make sure you’re following me on instagram and snapchat {@nourishovelove} for an insider look at my traveling workouts this month!

Sculpt sexy abs, shoulders and glutes with these 12 plank variations + 7 minute plank challenge. 

planking cross body knee pulls

the workout: 7 minute plank challenge

Perform each plank variation for 30 seconds. Work your way through the entire plank challenge, 12 exercises, without taking any breaks. Note, the 3 legged down dog + knee pull and cross body knee pulls will need to be performed for 30 seconds on the right leg and then 30 seconds on the left leg.

Add this 7 minute, core-sculpting plank challenge onto any workout; no equipment needed.

  • Walk out to plank
  • High Plank
  • 3 Legged Down Dog + Knee Pull – right & left leg
  • Plank Launchers
  • Cross Body Knee Pulls – right & left leg
  • Chaturanga Plank
  • Low Plank
  • Low Plank Alternating Arm Extensions
  • Low Plank Hip Swivel
  • Low Plank Dolphin
  • Reverse Plank
  • Reverse plank alternating leg lifts

walk out to plank

walk out to high plank

how to do it:

  1. Start standing upright, feet shoulder-width distance apart, hinging at the hips come into a forward fold placing your hands on the ground in front of you.
  2. While maintaining a flat back and tight core walk your hands out into a high plank position; shoulders stacked over wrists, tight core, kneecaps pulled up towards belly.
  3. Then reverse this movement, walking your hands back to meet your feet. 
  4. Repeat this movement for 30 seconds.

modify: shorten the range of motion if flexibility is limited.

make it harder: add a push-up onto the exercise. Walk out to high plank, push up, walk hands back to meet feet and repeat.

high plank

high plank

how to do it:

  1. Start in high plank position with your shoulders stacked over your wrists, weight evenly distributed amongst all 10 fingers, pulling your kneecaps up towards your belly and pushing your heels towards the wall behind you.
  2. Hold this position maintaining a straight line with your body, flat back, tight core, and neck in-line with spine, gaze slightly in front of you.
  3. Hold this position as a static, isometric hold for 30 seconds.

modify: drop to one or both knees.

make it harder: add a chaturanga push-up to target your triceps by keeping your elbows close to your body and getting your chest as close to the ground as possible.

3 legged down dog + knee pull — right & left leg 

3 legged down dog + knee pull

how to do it:

  1. Start in a downward dog position, hips high, pressing your chest towards your thighs, neck and shoulders relaxed and weight evenly distributed amongst all 10 fingers. Try  sinking your heels towards the ground.
  2. With your left foot firmly planted on the ground, lift your right leg off the ground up towards the ceiling. Keeping both legs as straight as possible and activated, while also keeping your hips parallel to the ground and core tight.
  3. With your core engaged, shift into a high plank position as you pull your right knee in towards your right elbow; striving to make the knee to elbow connection.
  4. Slowly and controlled, push your right foot back into the 3 legged down dog position.
  5. Repeat this movement for 30 seconds on the right leg and then switch legs, performing this movement for 30 seconds on the left leg.

modify: drop to your knee on the standing leg.

make it harder: strive to make the knee to elbow connection on each knee pull. 

plank launchers

plank launchers

how to do it:

  1. start in high plank position with your shoulders stacked over your wrists, weight evenly distributed amongst all 10 fingers, pulling your kneecaps up towards your belly and pushing your heels towards the wall behind you.
  2. Hold this position maintaining a straight line with your body, flat back, tight core, and neck in-line with spine, gaze slightly in front of you.
  3. Bend your knees and sit your weight back towards your heels performing a squatting plank.
  4. Then launch your weight forward back into a high plank position.
  5. Repeat this movement for 30 seconds; keeping your butt down, hips/pelvis slightly tucked under for a tight core and legs and shoulders engaged.

modify: hold a static high plank while slightly shifting your weight forward and backward. You may also perform this planking movement while dropping to one or both knees if necessary.

make it harder: add on a slight side-to-side launch to target the obliques. Launch slight right, center and slightly left and repeat. 

cross body knee pulls — right & left leg 

cross body knee pulls

how to do it:

  1. start in high plank position with your shoulders stacked over your wrists, weight evenly distributed amongst all 10 fingers, pulling your kneecaps up towards your belly and pushing your heels towards the wall behind you.
  2. With your core engaged and both legs activated, pull your right knee into your chest crossing your torso towards your left elbow.
  3. Then, kick your right leg back to the starting position, floating your right leg straight behind you.
  4. Repeat this movement for 30 seconds on the right leg and then switch legs, performing this movement for 30 seconds on the left leg {pulling yourleft leg in and across your body towards your right elbow}. Keep your butt down and your hips as square to the ground as possible.

modify: Drop down onto one knee and pull your floating leg straight in towards your elbow {ex. drop down to left knee and pull right knee to right elbow}. 

make it harder: strive to make the cross-body knee to elbow connection on each knee pull. Really challenge yourself by adding a 1/2 push up as your knee crosses your torso. 

chaturanga plank

chaturanga plank

how to do it:

  1. Start in high plank position with your shoulders stacked over your wrists, weight evenly distributed amongst all 10 fingers, pulling your kneecaps up towards your belly and pushing your heels towards the wall behind you.
  2. Hold this position maintaining a straight line with your body, flat back, tight core, and neck in-line with spine, gaze slightly in front of you.
  3. Slowly lower your chest half way down towards the ground, keeping your elbows pinned to your sides. Maintain a straight line with your body; head, chest and legs in one straight line.
  4. Hold at this half way point, keeping your elbows squeezed at your side for 30 seconds.

modify: Drop to one or both knees. Make sure to shift your weight forward, keeping most of your weight on the top of your knees instead of right on your knee-caps.

make it harder: Add a micro-push up movement to this charturanga hold, up an inch and down an inch.

low plank

low plank

how to do it:

  1. Start in low plank position with your shoulders stacked over your elbows, weight evenly distributed along your forearms, pulling your kneecaps up towards your belly and pushing your heels towards the wall behind you.
  2. Your hands can be clasped under your face creating an inverted “V” with your forearms or your arms can be in line with your elbows palms straight down on the floor, shoulder width apart, in front of you.
  3. Perform an isometric hold this position for 30 seconds, maintaining a straight line with your body, flat back, tight core, and neck in-line with spine, gaze slightly in front of you.

modify: Drop to one or both knees. Make sure to shift your weight forward, keeping most of your weight on the top of your knees instead of right on your knee-caps.

make it harder: Add an alternate knee tap. Dropping one down to the floor at a time, slow and control at a steady pace. Or you can add a micro-forward-and-backward movement; slightly shifting your weight forward and backward. 

low plank alternating arm extensions

low plank alternating arm extensions

how to do it:

  1. Start in low plank position with your shoulders stacked over your elbows, weight evenly distributed along your forearms, pulling your kneecaps up towards your belly and pushing your heels towards the wall behind you.
  2. Your hands can be clasped under your face creating an inverted “V” with your forearms or your arms can be in line with your elbows palms straight down on the floor, shoulder width apart, in front of you.
  3. Raise your right arm straight out in front of you, at shoulder height, level with your body. Keep your abs, hips and legs engaged to stay as square to the ground as possible and maintain balance.
  4. Lower your right arm, and repeat on the left arm; alternating at a steady, controlled pace for 30 seconds.

modify: Drop to your knees and alternate raising each arm. Make sure to shift your weight forward, keeping most of your weight on the top of your knees instead of right on your knee-caps.

make it harder: Alternate lifting the opposite leg and arm at the same time. As you raise your right arm, lift your left leg then switch sides, left arm with right leg.

low plank hip swivel

low plank hip swivel

how to do it:

  1. Start in low plank position with your shoulders stacked over your elbows, weight evenly distributed along your forearms, pulling your kneecaps up towards your belly and pushing your heels towards the wall behind you.
  2. Your hands can be clasped under your face creating an inverted “V” with your forearms or your arms can be in line with your elbows palms straight down on the floor, shoulder width apart, in front of you.
  3. Then rotate your torso to the right side, lowering your right hip toward the floor.
  4. Return to center and rotate to the left side,lowering your left hip toward the floor.
  5. Continue dropping your hips side-to-side for 30 seconds while holding your core and legs firm, careful not dip into your low back.

modify:  Drop to your knees and perform the alternating hip swivel from your knees. Make sure to shift your weight forward, keeping most of your weight on the top of your knees instead of right on your knee-caps.

make it harder: Rotate all the way over to your right side, opening up into a one arm side plank. Roll back to center in low plank and then rotate all the way over to your left side, opening up into a one arm side plank. Ultimately performing a rolling plank

low plank dolphin 

low plank dolphin

how to do it:

  1. Start in low plank position with your shoulders stacked over your elbows, weight evenly distributed along your forearms, pulling your kneecaps up towards your belly and pushing your heels towards the wall behind you.
  2. Your hands can be clasped under your face creating an inverted “V” with your forearms or your arms can be in line with your elbows palms straight down on the floor, shoulder width apart, in front of you.
  3. Then pull your hips up toward the ceiling pressing your chest back towards your thighs; similar to how you would perform a down dog, but in a low plank position. Your ears should be by your biceps with the crown of your head facing the ground as you gaze back toward your belly button. Maintaining straight legs, engaged back, and a tight core.
  4. Come back to the starting position, pushing your head forward as you lower your hips back towards the floor to your starting low plank position.
  5. Continue this movement for 30 seconds in a slow and controlled manner; keeping everything tight and engaged.

modify: Shorten the movement, performing a much smaller dolphin, option to bend at your knees. Work your way up to increasing your range of motion and straightening your legs.

make it harder: Perform a full dolphin push up by pressing yourself up from dolphin pose onto your hands; then push back to downward facing dog. Next bend your elbows and lower your forearms back to the mat, returning to dolphin pose. 

reverse plank  

reverse plank

how to do it:

  1. Start by sitting on the floor with your legs extended straight out in front of you and your arms resting at your sides.
  2. Bring your hands slightly behind you and rotate your hands so your fingertips point towards your heels. 
  3. Keep your hands shoulder distance apart and your upper arms externally rotated as you press firmly into the ground behind you.  Draw your shoulder blades down and back and allow your chest to rise naturally.
  4. Press your hands and heels of your feet firmly into the ground and lift your hips up towards the ceiling.  Keep your chest lifted while maintaining a straight spinal line from heels to head. 
  5. Perform an isometric static hold in this position for 30 seconds.  

modify: If you are unable to support yourself with your legs out. Bend your knees into a reverse tabletop position. Feet should be directly below your knees. You can also raise and lower your hips in this reverse table top position to build strength.

make it harder: Add a small, micro-movement, raising and lowering your hips in a slow and controlled manner to strengthen your hip flexors, core and shoulders.

reverse plank alternating leg lifts

reverse plank alternating leg lifts

how to do it:

  1. Start by sitting on the floor with your legs extended straight out in front of you and your arms resting at your sides.
  2. Bring your hands slightly behind you and rotate your hands so your fingertips point towards your heels. 
  3. Keep your hands shoulder distance apart and your upper arms externally rotated as you press firmly into the ground behind you.  Draw your shoulder blades down and back and allow your chest to rise naturally.
  4. Press your hands and heels of your feet firmly into the ground and lift your hips up towards the ceiling.  Keep your chest lifted while maintaining a straight spinal line from heels to head. 
  5. While holding firmly in reverse plank, raise your right leg off the floor. Reach through the ball of the foot and lift the entire leg toward the ceiling. Be mindful to keep your hips as even as possible and square to the ceiling.
  6. Lower your right leg, reset your hips and lift your left leg off the floor.
  7. Continue alternate leg lifts for 30 seconds.

modify: If you are unable to support yourself with your legs out. Bend your knees into a reverse tabletop position. Feet should be directly below your knees. Kick one leg straight out at a time while keeping your hips even and square to the ceiling. Alternate leg kicks in a slow, controlled manner. 

make it harder: As you alternate leg lifts, lower your arms into a tricep dip, shooting your elbows behind you. Continue to repeat the leg lift plus tricep dip together.

the outfit

onzie capris

lululemon tank

athleta beloved bralette

inwood designs fire engine red turban headband

Chaturanga Plank

7 minute plank challenge

Perform each plank variation for 30 seconds. Work your way through the entire plank challenge, 12 exercises, without taking any breaks. 

  • Walk out to plank
  • High Plank
  • 3 Leg Dog + Knee Pull
  • Plank Launchers
  • Cross Body Knee Pulls
  • Chaturanga Plank
  • Low Plank
  • Low Plank Arm Extensions
  • Low Plank Hip Swivel
  • Low Plank Dolphin
  • Reverse Plank
  • Reverse plank leg lifts

what’s your favorite way to plank? tell me in the comments below!

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2 comments
    • Planks are always challenging and 7 minutes of planking is a REAL challenge! Nice work and happy Thanksgiving! -Lindsey