Front Plank is one of the most popular core exercises on the planet, right up there with Crunches and Sit-ups. For good reason, too. They’re easy to learn (a little harder to master) and they’re very effective.
In this guide, I’m going to teach you how to do a proper Front Plank, what muscles it works and a few alternatives in case you need them.
Table of Contents
How To Do a Front Plank
- Start on the ground on your stomach.
- Assume a push-up like position on your elbows and toes. Elbows should be directly under the shoulders.
- Position your body in a straight line from the shoulders through the hips, knees and ankles.
- Brace the core tight. (As if you’re going to be punched in the stomach)
- Do not let the body slouch to the ground nor push the hips up high in the air.
- Hold for the designated amount of time.
The biggest mistake that I see with Front Planks is athletes holding the position, but not properly keeping the core engaged and just allowing the torso to slouch. So, while they are technically up on their elbows and toes, all they’re really doing is straining the low back.
The other mistake I see is the exact opposite and that is athletes shooting their butt into the air, resembling more of a Down Dog position.
The difference between the two is the second, having your butt too high, is easier to notice and more often corrected. However, letting the body slouch during a plank is often allowed to pass as ‘good form’ when it is not.
There are a ton of muscles that have to work to execute a Front Plank. It’s one of the reasons why Planks are such an effective core exercise.
The abs, the Rectus Abdominis and even the Obliques, are both heavily emphasized. However, many muscles are required to act as stabilizers, especially the shoulders and upper back.
How Many Reps Should I Do?
Front Plank is a static movement, so it’s done for time and not reps.
Having said that, how long is a good time to be able to hold a Front Plank? I would suggest starting with a couple sets of 30 seconds and then progressing from there. If you can progress to being able to hold 90 second planks, you’re doing pretty good.
Front Plank Variations
There are a crazy amount of variations to the Front Plank. You can add a bit of movement to it, like extending an arm or raising a foot, add weight or place your hands or feet on an object. Here are just a few you can try out.
The most common Front Plank variation is the Lateral Plank (or Side Plank). As you may expect from the name, it’s a front plank, but on your side up on one elbow.
Lateral Planks still work the Rectus Abdominis, but put much more of an emphasis on the Obliques.
Personally, I like to combo Lateral Planks right after Front Planks in my programming.
Weighted Front Plank
Once you start getting really good at Planks, it can become a little boring (and time-consuming) to hold Front Planks for two-plus minutes. If you find yourself in this position (nicely done) it may be a good time to add some weight.
Have a partner place a 25 or 45-lb plate on your back and hold just like normal.
There are too many variations to list here. If you’re not ready for Planks yet, you can Plank on your knees and then progress to regular Planks once you get stronger.
You can also place your hands, elbows or even feet on a medicine ball or stability ball to add more of a challenge. The only real limit to Plank variations is your own creativity.
Front Plank Alternatives
If you can’t do Planks, for whatever reason, here is a good alternative you can use as a substitution.
If an injury to an elbow or shoulder is holding you back from doing Planks, Hollow Holds are a great alternative.
Start on your back as opposed to your stomach, press your low back into the ground and lift your upper back and legs off the ground. Keep your chin off your chest and rock up and down. Keep your core braced throughout.
More Links and Info
Planks are one my favorite core movements to use with athletes. In fact, I think they’re one of the best core exercises for basketball players.
Looking for even more Core Exercises? Follow that link over to the Exercise Library where you’ll find tons of more ab exercises with more being added all the time.