This variation, one of the most common ways to perform a plank, is slightly easier than holding your body up with just your hands.
Place forearms on the floor with elbows aligned below shoulders and arms parallel to your body at about shoulder width. If flat palms bother your wrists, clasp your hands together.
Note: Any of the following plank variations can be performed with straight arms or in a forearm position.
This plank is noticeably easier to hold than the traditional straight-arm plank, which makes it great for beginners because it allows you to concentrate on form.
Resting your knees on the ground puts less stress on your lower back. Rest your knees on a rolled-up mat or towel if they feel uncomfortable on the floor.
This variation engages your obliques (the side muscles of your core) better than a standard plank.
Lie on your side with one leg stacked on top of the another, then prop your body up on your hand or elbow while keeping feet stacked.
You can make the plank more difficult by raising the opposing arm or leg — or both — in the air. You can make it easier by crossing the upper leg in front of your body for additional support.
By removing one point of contact with the ground, this variation increases the demand on your core.
Position your body in a standard plank, then lift one leg toward the ceiling as far as you comfortably can without compromising your back. Keep hips parallel to the floor, then alternate legs.
Up the intensity by planting your hands on a medicine ball rather than on the (much firmer, steadier) floor.
Stabilizing your body on an unstable ball adds a balancing component to the move, increasing the demand on your core. Follow the same steps for a standard plank, but instead place your hands or forearms on the ball, directly under the shoulders.
Instead of compromising your lower back by dipping your glutes, engage your core by imagining your belly button pulling in toward your spine. This will help keep your torso flat and, in turn, your spine safe.
Planks aren’t supposed to look like Downward Dog.
To really get your core working the way it should in the plank position, keep your back flat enough so your abs feel engaged from top (right below your sternum) to bottom (directly below your belt). Just don’t dip your hips too far toward the floor.
While the focus may be on keeping your hips, glutes, and back in the proper position, form isn’t just about your core and lower body in this move.
It’s important to think of your head and neck as an extension of your back. Keep your eyes on the floor, letting them rest about a foot in front of your hands, which will help keep your neck in a neutral position.
It’s human nature to hold your breath when you’re in a strenuous position. But denying yourself oxygen can bring on dizziness and nausea, which are unpleasant at best and dangerous at worst.