The 4 Hardest Plank Variations to Challenge Your Entire Core

If you're looking for a challenge, try out one of these plank variations.
Image Credit: visualspace/E+/GettyImages

If you're serious about building a rock-solid core, one exercise you can't afford to ignore is the plank. Unlike other core exercises, planks engage your entire core and force you to stay still… something very important for performance.

"If you can't produce enough force to stay still, the protective mechanisms in your nervous system will prevent you from being explosive," says Max Grossman, ACE-CPT, founder at Health Engineered.

Advertisement

Now, you may be thinking, "Planks are soooooo boring you couldn't be more wrong. There are a ton of plank variations out there, and some of them are so tough, they'll leave you shaking and drenched in sweat in no time.

Below, Grossman shares four of the toughest plank variations that will up-level your strength and sculpt a stronger, more stable core. Clear some floor space and give these a try.

1. Sliding Pike Press

1. Sliding Pike Press
Image Credit: Max Grossman/LIVESTRONG.com
Sets 3
Reps 10
  1. Grab a pair of socks or two hand towels and find a smooth floor.
  2. Start in a high plank (the top of a push-up). Ensure your fingers are grabbing the ground.
  3. With straight arms, exhale and pull your feet toward your hands while lifting your hips as high as possible. Attempt to get your feet as close to your hands as possible!
  4. Keep your feet light on the ground — sliding, not jerking.
  5. Inhale and smoothly return to a high plank.

2. Sliding Fallout

2. Sliding Fallout
Image Credit: Max Grossman/LIVESTRONG.com
Sets 3
Reps 8
  1. Grab a pair of socks or two hand towels and find a smooth floor.
  2. Start in a high plank. Place the socks on your hands or place the towels under them.
  3. With straight arms, exhale and slide your hands forward. Make sure you keep your hips tucked into neutral (like you're reading your belt buckle).
  4. Stop the rep before you feel any discomfort in your lower back.
  5. Inhale and smoothly return to a high plank.

Tip

To make this plank variation harder, gradually work your hands farther forward over time. Or to make it easier, start on your knees.

3. Copenhagen Plank

3. Copenhagen Plank
Image Credit: Max Grossman/LIVESTRONG.com
Sets 4
Time 30 Sec
  1. Find a chair, couch or other stable surface around knee height. Add cushioning for your foot as needed.
  2. Place the inside of your top foot on the platform you've selected.
  3. Lift yourself into a high side plank. Support yourself by placing one hand on the floor, while your body is parallel to the ground.
  4. Lift your bottom leg off the ground, holding it straight for more challenge or bending it for less.
  5. Actively press away from the ground through your shoulder, creating as much distance between your ribcage and the floor as possible.
  6. Repeat on the other side.

4. Copenhagen Hip Lift

4. Copenhagen Hip Lift
Image Credit: Max Grossman/LIVESTRONG.com
Sets 2
Reps 12
  1. Find a chair, couch or other stable surface around knee height. Add cushioning for your foot as needed.
  2. Place both feet onto the platform with your bottom leg in front of your top leg.
  3. Lift yourself into a high side plank. Support yourself by placing one hand on the floor, while your body is parallel to the ground.
  4. Actively press away from the ground through your shoulder, creating as much distance between your ribcage and the floor as possible.
  5. Inhale, lowering your hips as far as you can with control.
  6. Exhale and lift back up to your starting position.
  7. Complete as many reps as you can with good form before switching sides.

Advertisement