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7 Hardcore Plank Exercises to Build Core Strength

7 Hardcore Plank Exercises to Build Core Strength

7 Hardcore Plank Exercises to Build Core Strength

For the longest time, it was believed that doing thousands and thousands of crunches and sit ups were the secret to a tight midsection and washboard abs. Unfortunately, those hours spent crunching away only led to modest improvements in ab strength while leading to a whole lot of achy necks.

 

A superior ab/core exercise that has emerged as the heir apparent to the crunch/sit up to build core strength and defined abs is the plank.

 

Like many bodyweight exercises, the common plank is challenging for a time, but after building a decent base of strength, it presents little challenge for the seasoned gym enthusiast.

 

That’s where this article comes in.

 

Ahead, we’ve got 7 advanced plank exercises you can use to build ab and core strength.

 

7 Plank Variations to Get Hardcore Abs

 

 

#1 Leg Raise Plank

The first advanced plank variation we’ll discuss is the leg raise plank. It increases the challenge of the standard plank by removing one of your points of contact with the ground, thereby increasing the amount of weight the other three limbs have to support while also adding an element of instability.

 

To perform the leg raise plank:

  • Begin in plank position on your forearms (easier) or hands (harder)
  • Brace your abs and squeeze your glutes
  • Raise your left leg off the floor to about hip height and hold for one to three seconds
  • Place your left foot on the ground and then raise your right leg to around hip height.
  • Continue to alternate back and forth

 

Additionally, you can just raise one leg and keep it elevated for the entire time, then on the next set, you can raise the opposite leg.

 

 

#2 Lateral Step Out Plank

 

Stepping your leg out to the side forces your body to resist rotation by engaging your core.

 

To perform the lateral step out plank:

  • begin in either a high (hands on the floor) or low plank (elbows on the floor) position.
  • Step (move) your left foot out laterally and place it down just outside of hip width
  • Pause for a second and then bring it back to its original position
  • Now step your right foot out to the side (again wider than hip width)
  • Alternate back and forth until time expires or desired number of reps is complete

 

 

#3 Arm Raise Plank

 

Continuing to up the intensity on plank progressions brings us to the arm raise plank. As the name implies, you will raise one arm in the air while keeping your other appendages on the ground.

 

Many individuals who struggle with rear shoulder strength and shoulder mobility will find this significantly more challenging than the leg raise plank.

 

To perform the arm raise plank:

  • Begin in plank position on your forearms (easier) or hands (harder)
  • Brace your abs and squeeze your glutes
  • Raise your left hand off the floor and extend your arm forward to about shoulder height and hold for one to three seconds
  • Place your left hand back on the ground and then raise your right hand and extend your arm in front of you to around shoulder height.
  • Continue to alternate back and forth

 

As was the case with the leg raise plank, you can raise one arm and keep it elevated for the entire time, then on the next set, you can raise the opposite arm..

  

#4 Arm & Leg Raise Plank 

Progressing the arm raise plank further brings us to the arm and leg raise plank.

 

Here, you’re removing two points of contact from the floor and trying to resist rotation and maintain a straight body (which represents a tremendous challenge for your core!) having only one hand (or forearm) and one foot on the ground.

 

To perform the arm and leg raise plank:

  • Begin in plank position on your forearms (easier) or hands (harder)
  • Brace your abs and squeeze your glutes
  • Raise your left hand off the floor and extend your arm forward to about shoulder height, and at the same time, lift your right leg straight up to hip height
  • Hold this position for between one to three seconds and then lower your hand and foot to the ground
  • Now, raise your right hand and extend your arm in front of you to around shoulder height, and at the same time, lift your left leg straight up to hip height
  • Continue to alternate back and forth

 

#5 Side Plank

 

The side plank is a phenomenal core exercise for strengthening the oblique abdominal muscles, which don't get worked to their fullest extent during more traditional ab exercises like crunches.

 

The added challenge of having to balance on the side of one foot and one forearm also provides an intense workout for your anti-lateral flexion muscles.

 

To perform the side plank:

  • Lie on your left side with your right foot stacked on top of your left foot and your left forearm directly below your left shoulder.
  • Brace your core and raise your hips until your body is in a straight line from head to toe.
  • Without letting your hips drop, hold this position for 30 seconds
  • Lower to the ground and repeat on the other side

 

Another way to program this exercise is to hold each side for 10 seconds and rotate back and forth until you can no longer hold a perfect plank.

 

For an even greater challenge, you can try raising the top foot (the foot on top of the foot on the ground) and holding that position for 10-30 seconds. This increases the demand on your core muscles and also helps work the gluteus medius.

 

 

#6 Star Plank

 

The star plank makes just a small adjustment to the standard high plank, but that minor change is enough to present a massive challenge to your midsection.

 

To perform the star plank,

  • Begin in a high plank position, hands under shoulders, abs braced, straight line from head to toes
  • Move your right hand forward a few inches out in front of your shoulder
  • Move your left hand out in front of your left shoulder to match the right hand
  • Hold this tensed position for as long as you can until form starts to break down

 

 

#7 High Low Plank

 

The final plank exercise on our list is the high low star plank.

 

This adds a dynamic component to an otherwise stationary exercise as you’ll be alternating between a low plank on the forearms and a “high” plank (hands on the ground) star plank.

 

To perform the high low star plank:

  • Begin in a low (forearm) plank position
  • Drive your left forearm into the ground and squeeze your glutes as you extend your right hand out a few inches in front of your right shoulder
  • Now, press firmly with your right hand into the ground as you extend your left hand in front of your left shoulder
  • Reverse the movement by pressing firmly into the ground with your left hand while you bring your right forearm to the ground, so that your elbow is under your shoulder.
  • Repeat with the left arm
  • Continue alternating between high and low planks until time is expired or you can no longer maintain a straight line from head to toe.

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