10 ways to plank

Planks are one of my all-time favorite core exercises.

image Source

(It looks like Vies!)

As I’ve mentioned before, one of the tricks I’ve learned is that the maximum amount of time you should hold a plank is 10 seconds, because after that you start to engage and depend on other muscles to keep you up (especially your shoulders). An effective way to plank is to hold it for 10 seconds, rest for 3, and repeat as many times as you’d like (I usually go for 6). Try it- you may find it’s a lot more challenging than holding a plank for a minute straight.

Some more planking tips:

-Try to keep your body in a straight line from your ears to your ankles

forearm plank

(gaze is best about a foot in front of your hands so your spine is straight. My head is up a little too much in the photo)

-If you’re not feeling challenged enough with a plank variation, raise one leg up

-Keep your core engaged- it’s tempting to let it all hang out

Here are some of my favorite plank variations:



1) Alternating planks with push-ups: Try holding a plank for 10 seconds, followed by 2 push-ups. Repeat 6 times.

2) The saw: as you keep your plank position, slide your torso two inches forward. Hold for a second before sliding back to start position

3) Forearm plank with one leg: you can either alternate lifting legs, lift one leg and hold it, or lower and lift the same leg

4) Plank with knee tuck and leg extension: for this version, you’ll round your spine and contract your abs as you bring your knee in towards your chest, then extend your leg straight out behind you (#3)

5) Side plank with hip drops: lower your hips to just above the floor, then bring back up.

6) Side plank with a twist: start in full side plank position, then bring your arm that isn’t holding your body up under your torso as you contract your obliques and twist.

7) Side plank with leg abduction: same thing as described in this exercise. Make sure to keep your body flat, like you’re a piece of toast going into the toaster as you lift and lower your leg.

8) Plank with knee to elbows: keep your spine long and strong as you bring each knee (alternating, unless you can levitate) to your elbows 😉

9) Forearm plank with a hip drop: (not pictured) for this, you’ll do the same as #5, but facing forward in a regular forearm plank. You’ll alternating twisting to drop each hip towards the floor

10) Up and down plank: start on your forearms and alternate each hand up onto your palms (full plank), then back down to your forearms


And remember, friends, the best visible abbies are made on the track (or cardio machine of choice) and in the kitchen.

Last night we enjoyed a veggie-full meal over here:

bliss bowl 

“Bliss in a Dish” from “Let Them Eat Vegan!”


(Pinkie is still holding on… by a thread)

I made the recipe as the book instructed, and steamed the artichokes (which were originally frozen) and the potatoes in the steamer:


went for a walk while they steamed:


and then came home to put everything in the oven.

Drizzled the veggies with an olive oil impulse buy:

olive oil

and enjoyed mine atop a bed of greens with Goddess dressing and the Pilot ate his with brown rice. It was pretty glorious.

This morning I’m off to work- it’s a Zumba day- and am taking my friend her food containers since she made me lunch on Saturday.

chocolate tart

It somehow filled itself with raw chocolate tart 😉

Hope you have a happy humpday <3



Something to talk about: What’s your favorite plank variation? Any fun ones that I missed?

A challenge: 

pick 3 planks from above and bust them out (if you’re injury-free, of course):

-pick a stationary plank and hold for 10 seconds, rest for 3, repeat 5x (for total of 60 seconds of planking)

-pick a single leg plank and alternate right and left 12 times

-pick your favorite plank and either do one more minute of planking (with the 10 seconds on, 3 seconds rest) or alternate right and left 12 times

After you do it, leave a comment and let me know what planks you chose!! Plank you very mucho.


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  1. Janae Wise on May 16, 2012 at 9:58 am

    So jealous you have Dreena’s book! I’m still waiting for mine to arrive.

    Love the plank tutorial. Planks are really the best exercise to tone & strengthen total body. Thanks for the great tips!

  2. Lindsey on May 16, 2012 at 10:01 am

    That is really interesting with the max time to hold a plank! I had no idea. I am going to try the 10/3 next time for sure.

  3. Tara on May 16, 2012 at 10:17 am

    You are so cute with the meal sharing/swapping that you do with friends. I’m jealous! I need to start doing stuff like that with people I know. 🙂

  4. Sana on May 16, 2012 at 10:23 am

    My mom always said that it’s rude to return food containers empty. Glad you filled them with something sweet for your friend!

  5. Jen @familyfoodfitnessandfun on May 16, 2012 at 10:29 am

    I love the plank! I love that it works ALL the abs. I’m going to have to try some of those variations! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  6. Tori on May 16, 2012 at 10:29 am

    I am so happy to learn that you shouldn’t hold planks for longer than 10 seconds! Now I can do a proper ab workout!!! 🙂
    Thank you

  7. Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat on May 16, 2012 at 10:34 am

    LOL – this is very coincidental because I just did a monster plank workout this morning that I’m posting on Friday. Great minds think alike! My favourite variation is the oblique one, but I’ve never thought to try the leg abduction version you showed above. It’s on my agenda for tomorrow!

  8. Krystina (Krystina Yogini) on May 16, 2012 at 10:36 am

    My favorite are dolphin planks, but I use the term favorite very loosely since planks aren’t the most enjoyable thing to do. :p

  9. Kerry @ Totes My Oats on May 16, 2012 at 10:42 am

    Thank you for this post! LOVE planks.

  10. Kristen on May 16, 2012 at 10:46 am

    I did the saw plank. Can’t do the others until I get the go-ahead from the doc on Friday. If he says do it, then it’s on!
    I recently got my hubby into planks. He was doing just sit-ups and kinda seeing results. Now he’s really seeing them…so thank you! I get most of my fitness advice and info from you.

  11. Caitlin @ This Bride's Joyride on May 16, 2012 at 10:47 am

    Love the plank tutorial and I had no idea that after 10 seconds that happens! I always try to work up to longer times (and it’s usually my shoulders that feel it)! I’m going to try out a bunch of these now. Thanks!

  12. Ashley @ My Food 'N' Fitness Diaries on May 16, 2012 at 10:51 am

    planks are so bittersweet to me!! they are SO effective but are definitely challenging!

  13. Lindsay @ TypicallyLate on May 16, 2012 at 11:15 am

    Hate, hate, hate the Saw. Love, love, love side planks of any type (though as someone else said, I use the term “love” loosely!) – planks are definitely the best exercise for your abs, but I think that I a lot of people don’t realize that they should be done for short periods of time for maximum effect. Otherwise, you end up with terrible form and potentially hurting more than helping. Awesome tutorial!

  14. Hillary on May 16, 2012 at 11:20 am

    Hi Gina – Random question… I clicked through the link to the Summer Shape Up from way back in ’09. How many reps/sets of the weights exercises do you recommend? I was looking for a schedule to follow for a few weeks and this might fit the bill! Thank you for such a great blog!

  15. Averie @ Averie Cooks on May 16, 2012 at 11:43 am

    Raw choc tart..gosh, that’s a blast from the past! I remember too when you used to make tons of stuff from ED & BV. I bet the new book is great.

    Steamed artichokes…I want!

  16. Erica @ Love the Leap on May 16, 2012 at 11:47 am

    I LOVE planks!! And Insanity made me love them even more– I can def see some similarities here, which is awesome 🙂 Variety is the best!

  17. Catalina @ Cake with Love on May 16, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    I love doing the plank, I always feel that every muscle in my body works, so glad that you have posted all these variations, thank you!

  18. Kaila @healthyhelperblog! on May 16, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    Mmmm meyer lemon olive oil sounds AMAZING!!!!!!!!!

  19. Allison on May 16, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    Planks using a stability ball. Feet on ball, hands on ball, hands on ball, feet on a bench (hard) ,etc.

  20. Liz @ Southern Charm on May 16, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    Right now, I’m loving the elbow plank! My reason: it’s my most recent challenge. I currently cannot hold it longer than 30 seconds … but I want to hold it longer!

  21. Amanda on May 16, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    My problem with planks is that I slide everywhere when doing them! I have a feeling it’s because I could use some more core strength to do them with more ease but it’s kind of a catch 22. How do I improve if my feet slip away quicker than I would have been able to hold it?

    Any advice is welcome!!!!

    • Amanda on May 16, 2012 at 12:12 pm

      Also, I’ve tried mat, no mat, towel, no towel, just floor, etc.

  22. Ashley on May 16, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    To give my arms and core some love I do reverse planks…. my triceps always feel the burn!

  23. SweatyGirl on May 16, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    Up Down Planks are my favorite/least favorite 🙂 They are so hard!
    I recently tried them with my toes in the TRX thingie! OOOOOF!

  24. Julie @ Running and Riley on May 16, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    LOOOVE me some planks! Thanks for all the variation ideas! I’ll be sure to incorporate those into my routine! And the “Bliss in a Dish” looks absolutely scrum-diddly-umptious!

  25. natalie @ southern fit foodie on May 16, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    That meyer lemon olive oil sounds amazing! I love planks – all variations! Some of my favorites are spider planks with pushups, knee tuck to downward dog leg extension, and plank with hip dips. Side planks are awesome too. I’m a little TOO enthusiastic about planks for most people (especially the people who take my abs class haha).

  26. Karen on May 16, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    Great advice about the plank and only holding for ten seconds. That’s something I didn’t know. I always thought the longer the better. I will try the shorter duration with more sets on Friday. Thanks! And the veggies look awesome!

  27. Lauren on May 16, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    I’m drooling over your raw chocolate! Nice pairing with the planks! 😉

  28. Amy@healthyhungryhappy.com on May 16, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    i usually always do planks but especially now since im 23 weeks preggo…i love these variations ill def try them!

  29. Beverly on May 16, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    This is totally off subject, but I LOVE the design on the back of your tank. Such a different and pretty pattern!

  30. Emily @ Glitz Glam Granola on May 16, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    Omg I had no idea you weren’t supposed to hold plank for more than 10 seconds! I always read that it should be held for a minute! I am *loving* this 10 ways series! I can’t wait to print them out and incorporate them into a routine! I’m learning so much so thank you! And that steamer looks like a cool kitchen gadget!

  31. Talia @ Bite Size Wellness on May 16, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    Love new variations to simple moves. Megan from Running Toward the Prize did a perfecting your plank post for BSW and also mentioned the medicine ball plank for the more advanced planker. Take a look: http://www.bitesizewellness.com/2012/04/perfecting-your-plank/

  32. CoutStar on May 16, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    Love your chart. So holding a plank for longer than 10 seconds is bad? I have never heard of that can you go into more detail? I love learning new things! Thank you!

  33. Morgan on May 16, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    I LOVE planking too!! Thanks so much for the chart. My favorite planks are side planks! I usually only do forearm planks with one leg alternating up and down, but thank you for giving me all the other plank ideas! They’re killer!

  34. Jenny on May 16, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    Love this post! Trying to start firming up the post preg belly and can’t wait to try some of the variations! That dinner looks amazing–need to buy that book already!

  35. Anna @ The Guiltless Life on May 16, 2012 at 5:40 pm

    I am a big planking fan – thanks for the variations though. Always fun to have ideas on how to switch it up. That veggie dish looks amazing! I have to get that cookbook…

  36. Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin on May 16, 2012 at 5:40 pm

    Thanks for this post! I usually just stick to a regular plank, but this has given me so many new ideas!

  37. Lauren @ Fun, Fit and Fabulous! on May 16, 2012 at 10:52 pm

    I love me some planks! They are one of my favorite core exercises. I love to plank with a sponge ball between my knees to add a little inner thigh work!

  38. Whitney @ Whit Likes Fit on May 17, 2012 at 12:25 am

    I love side planks! #5 and 6 are some of my staples. Thanks for all the other ideas.

  39. Geetha on May 17, 2012 at 1:04 am

    What kind of goddess dressing do u use? And the brown rice, do u cook from scratch? If so could you pls provide rice : water ratio, cook time, procedure etc….I always get it wrong. 🙂

  40. Jill J. on May 17, 2012 at 1:31 am

    Love the picture of the Shiba plank (we have two crazy shibas!) I am a HUGE fan of planks…I make sure to do them morning and night and double on days I can’t get a workout in! I had no idea about holding for 10 seconds and then resting. Thanks for the tip! 🙂

  41. Julie on May 17, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    That’s so interesting about only holding the plank for 10 seconds at a time. I always have a hard time holding for longer than 30 seconds at a time, so it’s good to know I can do several sets of 10 second planks. Thanks for the tip!

  42. Ashley on May 17, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    that pup does look like vies!!! <3

  43. Ali @ Peaches and Football on May 17, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    I LOVE LOVE the purple shirt in the plank pictures – where is it from??

    • Fitnessista on May 17, 2012 at 12:44 pm

      Thank you! It’s old, from lululemon

  44. Alysia @ Slim Sanity on May 17, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    planks are the BEST

  45. Ashley on May 17, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    I just learned about this 10 seconds at a time thing pretty recently. Good thing I’ve been doing it wrong for a ear or so… Its okay though because now I like to vary it up and do a bunch of 10 second planks all in different ways.

  46. Ilana on May 18, 2012 at 10:08 pm

    love planks…and the 10 second thing, it’s really one of the things I ascribe to for my pilates classes. Planks have been so healing for my back injury, so I love this little list. My favorite variation is similar to the one-legged side plank you have here, but you bend your top knee and place it on the floor in front of you for support, and then raise the bottom leg to hip height, extending from heel to crown as best as possible. It’s a killer!

  47. Kathleen @ KatsHealthCorner on May 19, 2012 at 11:07 pm

    Oh my gosh, thank you thank you THANK YOU for sharing all of your tips on planking and all of the different ways TO plank. THANK YOU! 😀

  48. Christine @ Oatmeal in my Bowl on May 20, 2012 at 2:18 am

    Great post! I love all the variations on the plank. I tried jazzing up my plank routine up the other day. Ended up doing in one motion – side plank, with dips, to a plank, with leg lifts, a few plank to push ups, and then to the other side plank, with a modified vasisthasana – and fell to exhaustion. 😉

  49. Megan on August 6, 2013 at 7:45 pm

    So if I bring you a container, it will magically get filled up with chocolate tart too?!!!

  50. […] you can do in the morning that will keep your muscles working.  Simple ones include lunges and planks, if you are reluctant to carry free-weights on the plane.  Self magazine also has a sundress arms […]

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