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Fitness » Modified Plank: Take Your Planking Game To A Whole New Level

Modified Plank: Take Your Planking Game To A Whole New Level

modified plank

Can you say you’ve really worked out if you don’t do planks? Planks are among the classics when it comes to working out. Like everything in this world, when you do something the same way for a very long time, it becomes boring, and the same can be said for planks. That is why different variations of the plank can be found in numbers. These planks are modified to be even more effective. A modified plank looks to achieve two major things: 

  • Bring a cardio aspect to the workout.
  • Add more resistance so that it might be more effective at building strength and muscles. 

There are different variations of the modified plank. Here we shall look at all of them, their benefits, and the methods of doing these variations. 

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Benefits of Doing a Plank 

Planks have not been one of the most effective workouts without having numerous advantages associated with them. Here are some of the advantages of doing planks: 

  • Planks work out your full body

If you are looking for a full-body workout, then planks are the way to go. Despite the common belief that planks only target our abs, planks target most of the muscles on one’s body. The spine, core, quads, glutes, hamstrings, triceps, lats, rhomboids, and trapezius muscles are all worked by the plank if you do it correctly (8). Just like other exercises, doing these exercises properly works to ensure you will enjoy the benefits associated with it. Thus, before you attempt a single plank, you should make sure you know how to do it correctly. 

  • Planks help improve one’s posture

Planks do this by strengthening your core. A strong core prevents the risk of getting lower back pains, makes doing daily activities easy, and helps improve one’s posture. 

modified side plank
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A randomized clinical trial on the effect of 30 days abdominals challenge versus 30 days planks challenge on waist circumference and abdominal skinfold measurements in healthy young individuals was done (5). The study was to see if planks can hold their grounds when compared to other abdominal exercises in terms of working the abs and other abdominal muscles. The study has 60 participants. The participants were young individuals ages 18 to 30. It took 30 days, and the group of people was divided into two groups. The first group was to do other abdominal exercises for 30 days apart, and the second group was to do planks only for that same period. The researchers measured the individuals’ demographic data, waist circumference, hip circumference, waist-hip ratio, and skinfold measurement at the beginning and the end of the study (5). The individuals in the abdominal group were to do sit-ups, crunches, leg raises, and planks. 

The results showed no significant difference between the two groups after 30 days (5). This shows that planks are effective when it comes to working one’s core muscles, just like other abdominal exercises. However, it is important to note that this study did not include people over the age of 30 years, and thus, it is difficult to know if this would be the same case in older people. Other factors, like one’s diet, were also not taken into consideration. With that said, planks are effective in working one’s core and improving one’s posture.

Planks are also effective when it comes to improving one’s posture because they can condition some of the key muscles responsible for holding a person upright. 

modified plank for obese
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  • Everyone can do planks

Unless you have been instructed otherwise by an expert, planks can be done by people of all ages, gender, fitness levels, and weight goals. Hence whether you are a child or an adult, male or female, very fit or unfit, whether your goal is to build strength or lose weight, planks are an effective exercise that you should include in your workout sessions.

Read More:14 Day Plank Challenge To Build A Killer Core And Lose Weight

  • Planks are cheap

The traditional plank does not require any equipment apart from yoga mats maybe. A plank doesn’t also require you to enroll in a gym to do it. Planks can be done anywhere, at any time. On the other hand, the different variations of the modified plank might require some cheap gym equipment like resistance bands. This shows that even the modified planks are cheap and easy to incorporate into your workout program.

  • Planks are less likely to cause injury compared to other exercises that work the core

Exercises like the sit-up are notorious for causing injuries. These exercises sometimes cause damages even if done in the right way due to the amount of pressure they exert on one’s hip flexors and the other abdominal muscles. Planks, on the other hand, don’t have a higher risk of causing back injuries or over-exerting pressure on the hip flexors and hence don’t cause many injuries. This does, however, not eliminate the need to know how to do a plank properly. 

Those are some of the benefits associated with doing planks. With that said, it is important to know how to do a traditional plank before the different variations of the modified plank.

modified plank exercise
Shutterstock

How to Do a Plank?

This is how you do a plank (9):

  1. First, kneel on a mat.
  2. Then, place your elbows on the mat.
  3. With your legs hip-width apart, extend your right leg back, then your left leg.
  4. Keep your neck, back, and hips in the same line and your core engaged.
  5. Hold this pose for at least 30 seconds.
  6. You should do 3 sets of 30-60 seconds hold.

There are common mistakes that people make when doing planks that should be discouraged. Here are some of these mistakes:

  • One arching their back (7)- When you are doing a plank and you arch your back, you are not engaging your abdominal muscles as you should. Instead, you are putting more weight on your hands. To prevent this from happening, always make sure your shoulders are wide and down. 
  • One sagging their hips (7)- Your hips usually start sinking when your abs have gotten tired, and this should be a clear sign that it is time to end your plank. If you notice your hips are sinking right from the start of the exercise, try to separate your feet a bit wider and focus on engaging your abs.
  • One tilting their head up (7)- When you are doing a plank, your neck, back, and hips should be in a straight line (6). Your neck should not be tilted up, as this could strain your neck, which is something you don’t want. 

It is always important to maintain the right form while doing planks. Otherwise, you increase your chances of getting injured since you are placing stress on tendons, bones, joints, and muscles that are potentially not in alignment. This can cause you to get hurt very easily. In addition to that, the good form helps you get the most out of the plank. 

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modified plank exercise
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Modified Plank Exercises 

Now, since we’ve covered most of all you need about the traditional plank, here are some common variations of the common plank and how they are done:

  • Plank Side Walk 

This modified side plank introduces movement, which helps it create a cardio effect.

How it is done (3):

  1. You first go into the plank position. Make sure your hands are underneath your shoulders, and your next, back and hips are in a straight line.
  2. Then, cross your right arm over your left hand. While you are doing this, you should also move your left foot to the left. These two actions should happen simultaneously.
  3. The next thing to do is to move your left and right hand to the left. This returns you to the original plank positions. Your hands should be moving together, while your feet should be moving apart from each other. 
  4. To complete one set, you need to take 5 steps to the left and 5 steps to the right. 
  5. While doing this modified plank, one thing to remember is to make sure you keep your hips low as you move. 
  • Modified Side Plank 

This is yet another plank that helps work your core muscles. There are many different ways to make this plank harder or easier. Here is the most basic form of this place.

How to do a side plank (4):

  1. First, lie on one of your sides. You should make sure your elbow is right below your shoulder, and your arm should be flat on the ground. 
  2. While keeping your knees on the floor, you should stack your legs together and raise your hips. 
  3. Then, try placing the other hand on your hip, or you can raise it straight pointed towards the sky. 
  4. Squeeze your glutes and hold this position for about 30 to 60 seconds. 
  5. When you become good at this exercise, you can try lifting from your stacked feet instead of your knees. 
modified side plank
Shutterstock
  • Plank with Leg Lift 

This is yet another modified plank you can try.

How to do it (3):

  1. You start by going into the normal plank position; forearms and toes should be on the floor.
  2. Then, the next step is to gently raise your right leg a few inches (5-8 inches) from the ground.
  3. Hold your right leg in that position for a few seconds, then slowly lower it back to the ground. 
  4. Now, switch to your left leg and repeat the same procedure as you did for your right leg. 
  5. You should do between 2-3 sets of 10 reps of this plank. 
  • Reverse Plank 

In this modified plank exercise, instead of facing the floor like you would be doing if you were performing the standard plank, here you are facing the sky/roof/ceiling and hence the name reverse plank. This particular variation is very effective when it comes to working one’s entire core, glutes, hamstring, and back. 

How it is done (4):

  1. The first thing to do is to lay on your back. 
  2. With your hands underneath you, raise your body from the floor. Make sure your body forms a straight line from the head to your toes. 
  3. Hold this position for a few seconds. 
modified plank
Shutterstock
  • Alternating Arm-and-leg Raise from Plank 

This variation of the plank helps work the whole body. It will help you improve your strength, balance, and coordination. One thing that might make this variation hard for most people is finding balance, but once you’ve got your balance and do this plank in the right form, you will enjoy all these benefits that come with it. 

How to do it (1): 

  1. First, get into an elevated plank position. Then take your left hand and extend it forward. Make sure your left hand is at the same level as your shoulder while doing this. 
  2. Then, take your right leg and extend it straight back behind you. You should make sure you don’t raise it higher than the hip level. Remember to keep your abdominals and glutes tight.
  3. Return to the elevated position and do this for the opposite side (right hand and left leg). 

This exercise needs a certain level of fitness level, and if you are new to the exercise, you don’t have to do the legs and arms simultaneously. Make sure you lower back your hand first before raising your leg. 

Read More: 30-Day Plank Challenge To Bounce Back In Shape

  • Plank with Lateral Arm Reach 

Yes, another modified plank that aims to add intensity to the exercise. 

How to do it (3): 

  1. First, get into the original plank position. 
  2. While keeping your torso stable, slowly reach your left hand out to your side. Brace through your abs by pulling your navel to your spine. Try to hold this position for 5 seconds or more. If it is difficult to hold that position, you can try to move your right hand towards the center of your chest, just right under your chest rather than under your shoulder. 
  3. Still keeping your torso stable, bring your left arm back to the plank position. Try not to round your back or twist your spine while doing all these. 
  4. Repeat the same procedure with the other hand. One rep counts when you do both hands. 
modified side plank
Shutterstock
  • Plank with Alternating Knee to Elbow

This modified plank will help define your obliques

How to do it (4):

  1. First, get into the original plank position. 
  2. Then, lift one of your legs and pull your knee towards the opposite shoulder. This is to say that if you lift your left leg, you should pull the knee towards the right shoulder and vice versa.
  3. Now, return your knee to the original position so that you are back to the plank position. You should make sure to keep your abs and glutes tight throughout the exercise. 
  4. Repeat the same procedure with the opposite leg. 
  5. Alternate side for 45 seconds to make 1 set. Aim for 3 to 5 sets. 
  • Plank with Shoulder Tap 

This is yet another variation of the plank that tries to work most of the muscles.

How to do it (4): 

  1. First, get into the plank position but keep your feet slightly wider than your hips. This helps with your stability. 
  2. While keeping your torso stable, bring your right hand to your left shoulder and then return your right hand to your yoga mat. 
  3. Now, take your left hand and bring it to your right shoulder and then return it to the yoga mat. That counts as one repetition. 
  • Plank with Alternating Shoulder and Knee Tap 

This modified plank aims to combine the previous two variations discussed before. This is the plank with a shoulder tap and alternating knee to elbow variation. It thus provides the benefits of both those variations.

How to do it (4): 

  1. First, get into the plank position but keep your feet slightly wider than your hips. This helps with your stability. 
  2. While keeping your torso stable, bring your right hand to your left shoulder and then return your right hand to your yoga mat. 
  3. Now, take your left hand and bring it to your right shoulder and then return it to the yoga mat.
  4. The next step is to bring your right knee and your left hand towards one another under your body. Return to the plank position and do this for your left knee and your right hand. 
  5. That counts as one rep. 

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modified side plank yoga
Shutterstock
  • Side-plank Crunch 

This is the last modified plank on our list of planks. 

Here is how to do it (3):

  1. Start in a side elbow plank position with your left elbow down and your right hand behind your head. 
  2. While keeping your torso stable and your waist lifted, bring your right leg up towards your shoulder so that it gently touches your right elbow. 
  3. Then, return your right leg to the starting position to complete one repetition. 
  4. Do this exercise on both sides of your body.

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The Bottom Line 

The modified planks can either increase the plank’s intensity or reduce the plank’s intensity so that it is manageable to you. Modified planks make the plank more interesting since you don’t have to do the same traditional plank repeatedly, which makes the workout fun. Before you incorporate any of these modified planks into your exercise routine, it is important to consult an expert as they will advise if these exercises will work for you. While performing these variations of the plank, make sure you maintain the right form to get the most out of the exercise and to prevent injury. 

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DISCLAIMER:

This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

SOURCES:

  1. 5 Ways To Make Your Planks Harder And More Effective! (2019, bodybuilding.com)
  2. 14 Plank Variations You Haven’t Tried, but Need to ASAP (2020, healthline.com)
  3. 35 Plank Variations That Will Strengthen and Tone Every Inch of Your Body (2018, popsugar.com)
  4. 47 Crazy-Fun Plank Variations for a Killer Core (2019, greatist.com)
  5. EFFECT OF 30 DAYS ABDOMINALS CHALLENGE VERSUS 30 DAYS PLANKS CHALLENGE ON WAIST CIRCUMFERENCE AND ABDOMINAL SKIN FOLD MEASUREMENTS IN HEALTHY YOUNG INDIVIDUALS: RANDOMIZED CLINICAL TRIAL (2016, researchgate.net)
  6. Forearm Plank: Firm That Soggy Center One Plank at a Time (2020, greatist.com)
  7. How to Do a Plank ( 2020, verywellfit.com)
  8. The health benefits of plank exercises and how to do a plank properly (2020, insider.com)
  9. What Muscles Do Planks Work? How to Do a Proper Plank, According to a Personal Trainer (2019, prevention.com)
Ben William

Ben William

Ben is an experienced writer who is no stranger to fitness. His career goal is not only to educate people on proper exercising but also help them recognize the profound importance of healthy nutrition. As a writer, his top priority is to foster awareness about healthy lifestyle and encourage more people to transform their bodies and kick their deep-rooted habits. Ben strongly believes that anyone can achieve their fitness goals, as long as they work hard, stay on track and keep a positive mindset.

Inga Grebeniuk-Gillyer

Inga Grebeniuk-Gillyer

Hey there! I'm a European Champion in synchronized swimming who holds a Bachelor degree in Physical Education. I have experience in working with Olympic level athletes, produced National Champions, State Champions and helped athletes secure their spots on the National teams.
I don't just want to work with professional athletes. I strongly believe that my purpose is to help anybody I work with to achieve their fitness goals and become their best self.

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