20 Exercises to build strong body

The plank is a universal exercise that harmoniously develops the whole body and has a beneficial effect on overall health.

Running trainer Evgenia Zhgir shows several plank options that can be included in any general strengthening exercise set, whether it’s for the legs or upper body.

Advantages of the board

The plank is an isometric or static exercise. Muscles during various types of exercises can be reduced into three types:

  • Concentric contraction is the shortening of a muscle during contraction to overcome a load. A simple example: the biceps exercise, when you bend your arm with dumbbells.
  • Eccentric contraction is the lengthening of a muscle during contraction. We experience this when we straighten our arm with dumbbells.
  • Isometric contraction – in this case, a significant change in the length of the muscle does not occur. Example: classic plank or any other static exercise.

For strength training, the plank is somewhat inferior in effectiveness to dynamic exercises, but it has a number of advantages that dynamic exercises lack.

  1. The bar includes a large number of muscles, but it most actively affects the core muscles and works them as deeply as possible.
  2. By training stability in the plank, the body gains balance in running. Thus, even with increasing fatigue, you are able to maintain the correct running technique for longer: your body does not sway from side to side, the body does not fall forward and lean back.
  3. The plank strengthens the spine, the rhomboid and trapezius muscles of the back, the abdominal muscles and the oblique muscles, which positively affects your posture. There are several positive effects from here:
  • correct posture means that the center of gravity when walking and running is correctly located, and the load on the body is evenly distributed, which reduces the risk of injury;
  • good posture also means that the bones are in the right position: it reduces the risk of developing arthritis and arthrosis, because the bones and joints are sufficiently stressed and not overloaded;
  • correct posture means that the internal organs are in the optimal position. If the posture is bad, they can move. The correct location of internal organs will help to avoid the development of many chronic diseases.
  1. Systematic plank exercises help deal with lower back pain.
  2. Systematic isometric exercises, and the barbell among them, normalize high blood pressure.
  3. The plank, among other isometric exercises, strengthens the bones, prevents a decrease in their density and the risk of fractures. Increases the mineral density of already damaged bones, helping to recover faster after injury.
  4. Isometric exercises are used in the early stages of injury recovery because the muscles are working but not moving.

How to do the plank

Don’t try to do all the plank variations at once. Choose 4-5 options and cycle through them 2-3 cycles. Or include the barbell in a complex with dynamic exercises – this way the training will become more effective, since all types of muscle contractions are involved.

Make sure that the execution technique is correct: the head, body and legs in the plank form a single line. Maintain this position, despite growing fatigue.

If you are doing a dynamic plank variation, do the exercise slowly, linger for a few seconds in the extreme position. Thus, the static component of the bar will work to the maximum.

If you’ve already reached a skill level where you can hold a regular plank for several minutes, try making it harder and doing the plank on an unstable surface. Balance cushions, a Bosu platform or even a massage roller are suitable for this. You can perform barbell and some of its fitball-based variations.

20 plank variations

1. Plank on straight arms or elbows

Get into a plank position with your arms straight. Make sure the head, body, and legs are in one line and the arms are perpendicular to the floor. Place your feet about shoulder width apart. Hold the position for as long as you can.

Get into a plank position on your elbows. Make sure the head, body, and legs are in one line and the arms are perpendicular to the floor. Hold the position for as long as you can.

2. Side plank on an outstretched arm or on one elbow

Assuming a side plank position on one arm outstretched, stretch your free arm upwards. Make sure the head, body, and legs are in one line. Hold the position for as long as you can.

Get into a plank position on your elbow, resting your free hand on your thigh. Make sure the head, body, and legs are in one line. Hold the position for as long as you can.

3. Reverse Plank

Sit on the floor, lean on your hands, fingers pointing towards the pelvis. Stand on your hands, making sure your head, body, and legs are in one line. Hold the position for as long as you can.

4. Side plank with knee pull up

Take a plank position on your elbow, place your free hand behind your head. Pull the knee of the upper leg to the elbow, linger for a few seconds. Return to the starting position. Do it slowly. Do 5 to 10 repetitions on each leg.

5. Side plank with ground contact

Get into a plank position on your elbow, resting your free hand on your thigh. Lower your pelvis until it touches the floor, return to the starting position. Do it slowly. Do 5 to 15 repetitions on each leg.

6. Elbow board

Assume the straight-armed plank position, lower yourself onto your elbows by alternately lowering your right and left arms, then rise back up to the starting position. Do it slowly. Do 10 to 20 reps.

7. Plank with arm and leg raises

Get into a plank position with your arms straight. Raise your right arm and your left leg at the same time, hold this position for a few seconds. Return to the starting position. Repeat the same with the left arm and the right leg. Do 10 to 20 reps.

8. Straight plank – side plank

Get into a plank position with your arms straight. Roll to the side, assuming the side plank position, raise your free hand. Return to the starting position. Repeat on the other side. Do 10 to 20 reps.

9. Plank forward

Get into a plank position with your arms straight. Start taking small steps forward. Make sure the body and legs stay in one line. Walk 2-3 meters this way.

10. Side knee plank

Get into a plank position on your elbows. Bring your right leg bent to the side as close to your shoulder as possible. Return to the starting position. Repeat on the other side. Do 5 to 10 repetitions on each leg.

11. Plank with backward and upward leg extension

Get into a plank position with your arms straight. Bring your right knee down and toward your left shoulder, hold the position for two to three seconds, and bring your right leg back and up so that the leg and body form a straight line. Return to the starting position. Repeat on the left leg. Do 5 to 10 repetitions on each leg.

12. Jump to the sides from the plank

Get into a plank position on your elbows. Jump your feet to the sides, hold the position for a few seconds and return to the starting position. Do 10 to 20 reps.

13. Plank shoulder touch

Get into a plank position with your arms straight. Alternately touch the left shoulder with the right hand and the right shoulder with the left hand. Do 10 to 20 reps.

14. Side plank with twists

Get into a side plank position with your arms straight. Bring your free hand. Rotate your body downward by bringing your arm down and back. Return to the starting position. Repeat on the other side.

Take a plank position on your elbow, place your free hand behind your head. Rotate the body downward, with the upper elbow touching the lower elbow. Return to the starting position. Repeat on the other side.

Do 5 to 10 repetitions on each side.

15. Plank on the elbows with twist of the pelvis

Get into a plank position on your elbows. Turn the body to the side until the pelvis touches the ground in one direction, then immediately in the other. Do 10 to 20 reps.

16. Off-center plank

Get into a plank position with your arms straight. Take a few steps with just your feet so your body moves forward, but your hands stay in place. Stay in this position for 10 to 20 seconds. Then take a few steps back so that your body moves back, but your hands stay in place. Stay in this position for 10 to 20 seconds.

Return to the starting position. The same can be done in the bar on the elbows. Do 5 to 10 reps.

17. Plank with knee touch

Take a plank position on straight arms, stretch your right arm forward. Touch your left knee with your right hand, lifting your body. Return to the starting position. Switch hands and repeat the exercise in a mirror. Do 10 to 20 reps.

18. Reverse Barbell with Body Lowering

Get into a back plank position. Lower your pelvis until it almost touches the floor, hold for two to three seconds, and return to the starting position. Do it slowly. Do 10 to 20 reps.

19. Reverse plank with shoulder touch

Get into a back plank position. Alternately touch the left shoulder with the right hand and the right shoulder with the left hand. Do it slowly. Do 10 to 20 reps.

20. Plank with dumbbells for triceps

Get into a plank position with dumbbells in your hands. Bend your right arm, raising your elbow. The movement of the hand must follow the body. Hold the top position for two to three seconds. Return your hand to its original position.

Repeat the exercise on the left hand. Do 5 to 10 repetitions for each arm.