Plank Exercise - How To Do The Plank Abs Exercise [Guide w/ Video]

Updated: Sep 23, 2020

How To Do The Plank Abs Exercise?

Below is a video showing you how to do the plank abs exercise.

There are some example plank workouts further down in this article and also a step-by-step guide to the plank exercise.

Be sure to do this exercise on soft floorings, such as a padded mat or a rubber floor.

Follow the advice below to get proper plank form.

Try to keep your body still throughout this exercise.

Keep your body locked in a straight line from your heels to your neck.

Engage your abdominal muscles and keep still throughout the exercise.

Things to avoid:

  • Arching of your back.

  • Sagging of your hips.

  • Tilting of your neck and head.

Planks For Beginners Step-by-Step:

  1. To begin, get into the plank position, face down with your forearms and toes on the floor.

  2. If you're doing the standard plank, your elbows should directly under your shoulders and your forearms facing forward. Your head relaxed, looking at the floor.

  3. Engage your abdominal muscles. Keep your body locked in a straight line and rigid.

  4. Hold this position for your desired amount of time.

  5. When you're done, gently lower to the floor.

the plank exercise

Alternative Plank Variations:

There are alternatives to the standard plank, our favourite alternative is the longer-lever plank.

Long Lever Plank:

The long lever plank has proven to be a better form of the plank exercise in terms of muscle activation (EMG data) when compared to the standard plank. (Source)

This means that it is more intense and activates more muscle fibres than the standard plank.

The only difference in the way this exercise is performed is that instead of your arms being directly under your shoulders, they are further out in front of you.

Plank With Arm/Leg Lift:

Another variation of the plank is instead of being an isometric exercise, turning it into an active version by adding in an arm or leg lift - or both.

Basically, where you take the usual plank and lift up one arm or leg at a time.

This is a good way to add variation into your workout.

How To Make The Plank Easier?

If you need to make the plank easier, don't worry, the best way is listed below:

  • You can make the plank easier by holding up your weight on your knees instead of your feet.

making the plank exercise easier
Holding your weight on your knees instead of your feet makes the plank easier

How To Make The Plank Harder?

There are also multiple ways to make the plank exercise harder. The best ways are listed below:

  • Doing the variations of the plank such as the long lever plank and the arm/leg lift will make the plank harder.

  • If you're really advanced, doing the plank in the position of the push up (halfway down with your arms at 90 degrees) will make it much harder.

push up plank image
Doing the plank in the position of a push up makes it harder

The Plank Muscles Worked:

The primary muscles worked from the plank exercise are as follow:

  • Rectus Abdominis (core abdominal muscles)

  • Obliques (side abdominal muscles)

  • Glutes (main buttocks muscles)

The plank also works many other muscles for stability such as:

  • Quadriceps (front leg muscles)

  • Deltoids (shoulder muscles)

  • Triceps (back arm muscles)

  • Biceps (front arm muscles)

plank muscles worked diagram
Areas highlighted in red are the main muscles worked

Plank Benefits:

The benefits of the plank, like other abs exercises, are vast.

The plank is a compound (multi-joint) exercise as well as an isometric exercise (muscles in constant contraction without moving). This gives this exercise the benefits listed below.

It has these benefits:

  • May improve overall strength.

  • May reduce the risk of a back injury.

  • May increase abdominal muscle growth.

  • May improve the endurance of muscle fibres.

The Plank Workout Examples:

A great example of using the plank exercise in a workout is the 6-Day 6-Pack workout.

Example 1:

  1. Deadbug: 2 Sets / 12 Reps / Hold for 3 seconds

  2. Plank: 2 Sets / Hold for 30 seconds

  3. Side Plank: 2 Sets / 8 Reps / Hold for 3 seconds

Example 2:

  1. Plank: 2 Sets / Hold for 30 seconds

  2. Reverse Crunch: 2 Sets / 8 Reps / Hold for 2 seconds

You can make, change and adapt workouts to your style, program and experience.

Check out our other exercises in our exercise guides on

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