4 Options for a Quick Plank Workout for Beginners

woman planking
Planks are a great way to build core strength! Here are four variations to try.
by Steven Auger

Our abdominal muscles make up part of what are often called our "core" muscles, and with good reason! The muscle group makes up the middle portion of the human body, a crucial zone to work out. Not only can stronger abdominal muscles improve your balance and posture, but they can also provide more stability for the spine, your body's main support structure.

A strong core can help you reach your fitness goals and perform daily tasks more easily. If you're new to exercising and want to build core strength, consider trying a plank workout for beginners next time you visit the gym! There are a bunch of great variations.

Basic Plank Varieties

Perhaps you weren't a fan of sit-ups way back in gym class — you're not alone. Planks might just be your salvation! As with any exercise, proper form is key to performance and safety!

To perform a forearm plank, start on all fours with your torso flat like a table-top. Tighten your stomach muscles to help keep your spine straight. Set your forearms flat on the floor and extend your legs out straight so only your toes and forearms are touching the floor, and then hold this position. Don't forget to breathe!

Another basic variation of the plank is the side forearm plank. From the standard plank position, rotate to one side while keeping one elbow and forearm on the ground. Place your other hand on your hip and stack your feet on top of each other while pointing them in the direction you are facing. Lift those hips to keep your body in a straight line!

Now that you've got the basics of a proper plank down, you can add a few other quick movements to get a great plank workout for beginners. Next time you're at the gym, attempt to perform any of these four exercises for 30 seconds (and rest 30 seconds before repeating).

1. Basic Plank

To perform a regular plank, start on all fours as you did for the forearm plank. Instead of placing your forearms on the ground, place your palms on the ground shoulder-width apart and extend your arms fully. Lift your knees and push your feet back as you extend your legs straight out behind you. This will look like the top of a standard pushup.

Keep your core, legs, and glute muscles tight while being careful not to arch your back. Focus your gaze on the floor a few inches in front of your hands to keep your neck neutral.

2. Hip Raises

Start from the forearm plank position, and then elevate your hips to form an inverted V shape. Keep your core muscles flexing as you elevate! Once your hips reach their peak, return to the starting position.

3. Decline Forearm Plank

Once you've mastered the first two plank variations, you might be looking for something more challenging. Search no further! The decline forearm plank is a more advanced movement that incorporates the use of a Bosu ball.

To begin, place your elbows and forearms on the ground as you would for a forearm plank and form fists with your hands. Then, place your feet together on top of the Bosu ball. Tighten your core and glute muscles while keeping your body in a straight line.

4. Single Arm Plank

This plank variation can also be a bit more challenging, but after taking on the first three exercises, you've totally got this!

Assume a pushup position. Your hands should be underneath your shoulders, and your feet should be spread slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Press into the floor with one hand as you raise the other hand to your hip. Engage your thighs and glutes as you do this, and then repeat on the other side!

Showing your core muscles some attention is a great way to wrap up any workout. Perform any of these movements to enjoy a plank workout for beginners next time you head to the gym!

As always, please consult with a physician prior to beginning any exercise program. See full medical disclaimer here.