What Type of Plank Is Right For You?

What Type of Plank Is Right For You?

There are certain exercises that have become known as a staple for fitness building. If you’re looking to build a stronger core, planks may be right for you. Planks may seem easy since they are a bodyweight exercise, but this isolated position, when done correctly, proves to be challenging.

How to Do a Proper Basic Plank

Before tackling some of the harder planking styles, it’s important to know basic planking form in order to ensure you’re taking the proper steps to avoid any unnecessary injury to your lumbar spine (lower back).

Step 1: Align your body into the position it would be in if you were going to do a traditional pushup. Make sure your hands are directly underneath your shoulder joint, not in front!

Step 2: Make sure that your arms are shoulder width apart, your palms are pressed flat against the floor* and that you are strongly holding yourself up, without feeling like your arms are going to give out.

*You can also choose to bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms to hold yourself up while you hold your palms together.


Step 3: Make sure that your neck is parallel with the ceiling. Imagine a string going from your head to your toes, perfectly aligned. Your eyes should be facing the floor so that you don’t strain your neck.

Step 4: Engage your entire core by doing an anterior pelvic tilt (bring the tailbone down and try to tuck your bottom under). By pelvic tilting, your hips align and put you into a neutral spine position (no lower back curvature).

Step 5: Hold for as long as you can while squeezing your core and glutes.

Benefits of Planking: 

  1. Planking helps train and strengthen your core abdominals, shoulders and triceps.1
  2. Planking may help better your lower back posture by strengthening the muscles that keep your bones in proper alignment.2
  3. Better posture can help reduce back pain. When your core is strong, you are able to sit tall for longer periods of time, resulting in less pain in your neck and shoulders.3
  4. A stronger core helps your body with stabilization, resulting in better movement and overall coordination.4

Different Types of Planking

There are a large variety of planking styles that can help keep things fun and fresh if you’re getting tired of the same traditional planking form. Below is a list of 7 planking variations that may help you achieve a stronger core and tighter tummy.

1. Plank with arm/leg lift

Lift your right leg and left arm in unison. Hold and then alternate with the opposite sides.5

2. Side plank 

Press your left hand into the mat and turn your body so your weight is on the outer edge of your left foot. Imagine a big medicine ball underneath you. Press your torso up and away from the imagined medicine ball, and extend your right hand towards the sky – keeping your core engaged.6

3. Side plank with twist

Lie on your left side with your forearm directly under your shoulder. Raise your right arm towards the ceiling, keeping it perpendicular to your body. Lift your hips so that your body is in a straight line from head to toe. Reach down, scoop your right arm in front of your body, and reach in the space between your chest and the ground. Twist from the waist up. Do desired amount of reps and then switch sides.7

4. Plank out

Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Reach down and touch the floor with your fingertips. Without moving your feet, walk your hands forward until you reach planking position. Reverse the movement, walking your hands back towards your toes while keeping your core engaged.8

5. Side plank with hip dip

Begin in a side plank, with arm of your choice reaching upwards toward the ceiling. With control, dip your right or left hip (depending on the side you’ve chosen, down towards the mat. Hover just above the mat and then push your hip back up into your original side plank position.9 Do desired amount of reps and then switch sides, dipping the opposite hip.

6. Stir-the-pot-plank

Use a stability ball to balance your forearms on with elbows positioned under shoulders. Feet should be extended behind you in a planking position. Move forearms in a counterclockwise direction for desired amount of reps then switch to rotating in a clockwise direction.10

7. Plank to pushup

Get into a basic plank position with your elbows on the ground, at 90 degree angles. Push yourself up, one arm at a time, into a push up position. Then lower yourself back down to your elbows on the ground, one arm at a time. Make sure to keep your core engaged throughout.11

How long should you hold a plank?

It’s important to note that you should never push your body to a point where you are feeling pain that is not a soreness associated with muscle use, such as shooting pain or straining that you cannot control. It’s been said that being able to hold a plank position for 2 minutes can be a sign that you’re fairly fit.12

Did You Know?

The World Record for the longest time held in abdominal plank position is 8 hours and 1 minute, held by Chinese police officer Mao Weidong. He accomplished this incredible feat in Beijing, China on May 14th, 2016.13

How long have you managed to hold a plank position for? Do you have a fitness goal or accomplishment you’d like to share? We’d love to hear it! Comment below.


  1. Cespedes, Andrea. “What Are the 4 Main Benefits of the Plank Exercise?” LIVESTRONG.COM, Leaf Group, 19 July 2016, www.livestrong.com/article/500440-what-does-the-plank-exercise-benefit/.
  2. Ibid
  3. Ibid
  4. Ibid
  5. Medeiros, Michael De. “The 1 Exercise That Makes You Better in Every Workout.” POPSUGAR Fitness, 29 Mar. 2016, www.popsugar.com/fitness/Benefits-Planking-40741612.
  6. http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20813896,00.html#view-all#
  7. Ibid
  8. Matthews, Jessica. “10 New Ways to Do Planks (And Score Serious Strength!).” Shape Magazine, 8 Dec. 2015, www.shape.com/fitness/workouts/10-plank-exercises-score-sexy-abs-fast.
  9. Ibid
  10. Ibid
  11. Goldman, Alison. “7 Ways to Make Planks Harder.” Women’s Health, 14 Apr. 2017, www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/plank-exercise.
  12. “5 Health Benefits of Doing Plank Exercise.” Mercola.com, fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2014/12/05/5-plank-benefits.aspx.
  13. “Longest Time in an Abdominal Plank Position.” Guinness World Records, www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/longest-time-in-an-abdominal-plank-position.

Recommended Reading

Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Pink for Hope, Support, and Strength

Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Pink for Hope, Support, and Strength

October marks the start of Breast Cancer Awareness month. Each year, this terrible disease is brought to the forefront of our minds with various fundraising opportunities to help find a cure. Yet, sadly we are still awaiting one. About 1 in 8 women, and about 1 in every 1,000 men, will develop breast cancer over the course of their lifetime.It is a disease that not only affects the lives of those afflicted, but their loved ones as well. The good news is that there is hope.

This hope can come in the form of great organizations like Padres Pedal the Cause that fundraise for cancer research. This year marks the third consecutive year that LA Fitness will support Padres Pedal the Cause by helping to fundraise for its efforts. 100% of Padres Pedal the Cause’s donations fund cancer research projects, including research relating to breast cancer. To help aid the efforts of Padres Pedal the Cause, LA Fitness has designed a few specialty t-shirts (the LA Fitness Shop Pink Shirts) in honor of the event. LA Fitness will donate a portion of the proceeds from the sales of the LA Fitness Shop Pink Shirts to Padres Pedal the Cause.* Make sure to order your limited edition LA Fitness Shop Pink Shirt today before they sell out!

Additionally, if you are an active cyclist or cycle enthusiast, and want to pedal your way to making a difference, Padres Pedal the Cause is hosting a special event from November 11-12th in San Diego. If you would like to get involved, here’s how:

  1. Register as a rider. There are a variety of options, spanning between 5 – 150 miles. The Saturday route even includes a ride over the Coronado Bridge (hope you’re not afraid of heights!)
  2. Register as a stationary rider. This option involves stationary bike classes right on the field at Petco Park! The classes range in time from 1 to 4 hours.
  3. Register as a virtual rider (sounds pretty futuristic, right?) This is perfect if you still want to donate to the cause, but you are unable to participate in person on the event weekend.
  4. Purchase a LA Fitness Shop Pink Shirt here!
  5. Volunteer. Find out how here.

An interview with Ilke E.W.

In order to help learn a bit more about breast cancer and the effect it has on the body, we interviewed LA Fitness Group Fitness instructor, Ilke E.W., who helped explain what her battle with breast cancer was like. (You may recognize Ilke from our previous article this year!)

Q: When were you diagnosed with breast cancer?

Ilke E.W.: First time in 2005. Second time in 2011.

Q: How was the cancer detected? What led up to you going to have it checked out?

I.E.W.: First time I felt a lump in self-examination. My mammogram was clear a few months prior. I had young kids. Second time around I caught it via MMR that I insisted having. The second one was caught at stage 1.

Q: How did you feel when you initially received the news?

I.E.W.: I heard it during my doctor’s visit after biopsy. I felt kind of lost and confused. I was young. I did not smoke. I ate well. I had two kids that I breastfed. I exercised. This was not supposed to happen to me.

Q: Did you have a good support network as you were fighting through it?

I.E.W.: Not at the beginning. I was busy dealing with surgery followed by chemotherapy. Saint Joseph Hospital had a lot of workshops and help groups. I did not attend during my second cancer episode. I had support since I got to know a lot of people in the cancer circuit. I got involved with American Cancer Society and became their high roller fundraiser. I still do fundraising for cancer patients using Zumba®.

Q: Did you use any services or programs to help you through the treatment process?

I.E.W.: I got referrals for wigs from organizations. I got an expensive wig. My chocolate lab was very fond of it and I could not rescue it from her. I ended up using baseball caps with scarfs.

Q: What was your biggest obstacle while undergoing treatment?

I.E.W.: I had complications with surgery. I did not take time off from my full time work. Juggling hospital and doctors’ visits with work was very challenging.

Q: What would you like others to know about breast cancer, who may not know much about this disease?

I.E.W.: Do self-exams. Be your own advocate. Do not take everything your doctor tells you for granted. Understand your treatment and the medications you are taking along with their side effects, complications and their aftermath. Read and read and talk to other patients. Eat well and be knowledgeable about exercise and nutrition. And relax. Breast cancer is treatable and is not a life sentence. Do not freak out. My doctor advised me to do lumpectomy followed by radiation second time around. I opted for radical mastectomy instead.

Q: As a group fitness instructor for LA Fitness, did you find it hard keeping active during treatment?

I.E.W.: I was active during treatment. You do not have energy but you can manage. Reduce your load but do not stop exercising and/or teaching fitness.

Q: What advice would you give to women, and men, battling breast cancer?

I.E.W.: Surround yourself with positive energy. Cut out relationships that are toxic. Do not fall into “poor me” mode.

Q: What advice would you give friends and family of those battling through this disease?

I.E.W.: Ask for help and accept it. Let people help you out.

*Padres Pedal the Cause contributes 100% of all donations toward cancer research projects. To learn more about Padres Pedal the Cause and its cancer research initiatives, click here.  Proceeds donated to Padres Pedal the Cause exclude amounts charged for shipping & handling and sales tax. An amount representing credit card processing fees and the costs incurred by Pinpoint Marketing Group, Inc. (“Pinpoint”) to produce the LA Fitness Shop Pink Shirts shall be excluded from the donation to Padres Pedal the Cause; such amounts shall be retained by Pinpoint and not donated. The responses above reflect the opinions of the interviewee and do not in any way reflect the position of Fitness International, LLC or its affiliates. This article is not meant to be construed as medical advice. Consult with your doctor if you have a health issue or if you are considering beginning a new fitness regimen.


  1. “U.S. Breast Cancer Statistics.” Breastcancer.org, www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/understand_bc/statistics.

Recommended Reading

ASK A TRAINER: Ep. 8 – How Often Should I Do Cardio With Weight Lifting?

ASK A TRAINER: Ep. 8 – How Often Should I Do Cardio With Weight Lifting?

Ask A Trainer: Featured Question of the Week

LA Fitness Pro Results® Master Trainer, Geoff F., helps answer how often cardio should be done with weight lifting – you may be surprised at the answer. Find out below!

Do you have a fitness question? Ask one of our certified Pro Results® trainers here! Your question may be featured in an upcoming Ask Our Trainer video.**

7 + 3 =

**Selected submissions will be featured on the LA Fitness blog and possibly other LA Fitness digital media entities & websites. By making a submission, you hereby grant LA Fitness a non-exclusive, perpetual, worldwide, irrevocable license to use and make copies of the contents of such submission for any purpose and in any medium whatsoever, and you hereby waive and relinquish any copyright or other intellectual property right you may have in the contents of such submission and your right to pursue any claim for LA Fitness’s violation of those intellectual property rights.

Recommended 'Ask A Trainer' Videos

Member Spotlight | Age Is Just A Number

Member Spotlight | Age Is Just A Number

“Physical health and mental health are very much combined […] set[ting] a goal and [going] for it is so beneficial for your total health.”

Barb M.

LAF Member

Has age ever made you feel like there are limitations to what you can do? If so, meet Barb M. of Centerville, OH. Barb is 66 years old. She also recently completed a half marathon. Age is simply a number to her.

The Challenge

What may surprise you about Barb is the fact that she was never much of a runner. She completed her first half marathon at 62 years old, and the story of how she got to that point is just as extraordinary. Barb made a career for herself as a behavioral health nurse. It was about four years ago now when a doctor she worked with, who was a runner, challenged Barb to train for a half marathon. And just like that, Barb set a goal to run her first half marathon at 62. After all, Barb is not the type of woman to back down from a challenge.

However, training to run a half marathon was no easy feat. Barb knew she would have to set baby goals along the way. She started off by walking 15 minutes a day – sounds pretty easy, right? Well, that first 15 minutes soon turned into 30, and her walking then turned into running. By the end of 6 months Barb was running 13 miles at least once every week. On her “off days” Barb would run anywhere between two to eight miles. Her determination to achieve her desired goal helped push her to continue training.

The Moment of Truth

Then, in April of 2013, it was the moment of truth. The Ohio River Runners Half Marathon was upon her, and Barb had no problem completing the half marathon in 3 hours. With that accomplishment under her belt and her continued commitment to fitness, Barb M. was awarded the 13th annual Silver Sneakers /Richard L. Swanson Inspiration Award three months later. However, having a half marathon under her belt and receiving the Richard L. Swanson Inspiration Award didn’t stop Barb from continuing on with her fitness journey.

The Future & LA Fitness

Barb M. joined LA Fitness in April 2017 after retiring from her day job, and she began working out with Pro Results® trainer Jimmy T. She shared that Jimmy helps teach her what each machine will do to help her continue to get stronger. Her goals now are to improve her core stability as she ages and “perfect [these] goals with LA Fitness.” Barb M. strongly believes that “physical health and mental health are very much combined […] set[ting] a goal and [going] for it is so beneficial for your total health.”

If you’re ready to make a change, and set a goal like Barb M., share it with us here! Ready to take your fitness to the next level, schedule an appointment with a Pro Results® trainer today.

Consult your physician before starting a new fitness regimen. Pro Results® Personal Training requires a separate agreement and is subject to an additional fee.

Recommended Reading

Fall into Fitness | It’s the Autumn Equinox!

Fall into Fitness | It’s the Autumn Equinox!

Come fall into fitness with us!

Can you feel it? The slight change in the weather, that crispness in the evening air, fall is here and it’s time to celebrate! Fall lends us lots of reasons to rejoice, from changing leaves to fresh cool breezes –  it’s the little things in life that truly make it so wonderful. This time of year marks the kickoff of the upcoming holiday season. Before you know it, ghoulish goodies will be popping up left and right as Halloween draws nearer, and pumpkin spiced everything will start adorning supermarket shelves. A word to the wise, if you’re going to enjoy these tasty treats and more, don’t let your workouts slack or you might start to notice a change around your waistline – now that can be scary!

With summer at an end, you may find yourself with a bit more energy as the cooler weather begins. Keep your workout routine going strong so you’re ready to hit the slopes, throw that perfect pass, or enjoy that sweet indulgence when the time calls. Building a stronger body in the gym can help create a healthier life outside of it, and who doesn’t want that? Now that a new season is upon us, try changing up your workout routine. Adjusting your typical gym routine is good for the body and helps prevent it from plateauing. If you’re unsure where to begin or what to do, why not try a Yoga class? (It is National Yoga Month after all).

The days may start to seem shorter as the sun begins to set just a bit earlier than those sweet summer nights, but don’t let that detract you from your workout! After a long day at work, or a tiring day of classes, make time to get your exercise in. Exercise not only helps produce feel-good hormones, but it can help energize the body, and leave you feeling more confident. It’s always important to remember that a quick workout is better than no workout.

Happy Fall! We’ll see you in the gym.

Recommended Reading



Be the first to know about exclusive

content, deals and promotions

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest