How to Get Better at Doing Planks?

Planks are a popular exercise that can help strengthen your core, improve your posture, and increase your overall fitness level. While planks may seem simple, they can be challenging to perform correctly and maintain for extended periods. In this article, we’ll explore various techniques and tips to help you get better at doing planks and achieve your fitness goals.

Understanding the Benefits of Planks

Before diving into the techniques to improve your planks, it’s essential to understand why planks are such a valuable exercise. Planks engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously, including your abdominals, back, shoulders, and legs. By strengthening these muscles, you can:

  1. Improve your posture: A strong core helps support your spine and maintain proper alignment, reducing the risk of back pain and injuries.
  2. Reduce back pain: Planks can help alleviate back pain by strengthening the muscles that support your spine and improving your overall core stability.
  3. Enhance your balance and stability: A strong core is essential for maintaining balance and stability during various activities, from everyday movements to sports and exercise.
  4. Boost your overall core strength: Planks target your entire core, including your transverse abdominis, rectus abdominis, and obliques, helping you build a strong, stable foundation for all your movements.

Incorporating planks into your regular exercise routine can lead to a wide range of benefits that extend beyond just your core strength. As you become more proficient at planks, you may notice improvements in your performance in other exercises and daily activities.

Mastering the Basic Plank Form

To get better at doing planks, you must first master the basic plank form. Proper form is crucial for engaging the right muscles and avoiding injury. Here’s how to perform a proper plank:

  1. Begin by getting into a push-up position with your hands directly under your shoulders. Make sure your hands are slightly wider than shoulder-width apart to provide a stable base.
  2. Lower your forearms to the ground, so your elbows are directly under your shoulders. Keep your elbows bent at a 90-degree angle, and clasp your hands together for added stability.
  3. Keep your body in a straight line from your head to your heels, engaging your core and glutes. Imagine a straight line running from the top of your head through your spine to your heels.
  4. Maintain a neutral neck and spine, looking down at the ground. Avoid letting your head drop or lifting it too high, as this can strain your neck and compromise your form.
  5. Hold this position for as long as you can maintain proper form, aiming for 20-30 seconds initially. As you build strength and endurance, you can gradually increase your hold time.

As you practice the basic plank form, focus on maintaining proper alignment and engaging your core throughout the exercise. If you find your hips sagging or your back arching, reset your form and continue with the plank. It’s better to hold a shorter plank with perfect form than to hold a longer plank with compromised alignment.

Gradually Increasing Your Plank Hold Time

One of the keys to getting better at doing planks is gradually increasing your plank hold time. Start with a hold time that you can maintain with proper form, even if it’s just 10-15 seconds. As you become more comfortable with the exercise, aim to add 5-10 seconds to your hold time each week.

To help you increase your plank hold time, try these tips:

  1. Practice planks regularly, aiming for 3-4 times per week. Consistency is key when it comes to building core strength and endurance.
  2. Break up your plank holds into smaller increments, such as 3 sets of 20 seconds with short breaks in between. This can help you maintain proper form and build endurance over time.
  3. Focus on your breathing, taking slow, deep breaths to help you maintain the plank position. Breathing deeply can help you engage your core muscles and reduce tension in your body.
  4. Engage your core muscles throughout the entire plank hold, imagining you’re pulling your belly button towards your spine. This mind-muscle connection can help you maintain proper form and get the most out of each plank.

Remember, progress takes time, so be patient and consistent with your plank practice. Celebrating small victories, such as holding a plank for 5 seconds longer than the previous week, can help keep you motivated and on track. Don’t get discouraged if you have setbacks or plateaus; keep showing up and putting in the work, and you’ll see improvements over time.

Incorporating Plank Variations

Once you’ve mastered the basic plank form and have increased your hold time, you can begin incorporating plank variations to further challenge your core and keep your workouts interesting. Plank variations target different muscle groups and can help you avoid boredom and plateaus in your training. Some popular plank variations include:

  1. Side Plank: Lie on your side with your feet stacked, then lift your hips off the ground, supporting your weight on your elbow and feet. Keep your body in a straight line from your head to your feet, and hold for 20-30 seconds before switching sides. This variation targets your obliques and helps improve lateral stability.
  2. Plank with Leg Lift: While in a basic plank position, lift one leg off the ground, hold for a few seconds, then lower it back down and repeat with the other leg. This variation challenges your balance and engages your glutes and hamstrings in addition to your core.
  3. Plank with Arm Lift: Similar to the leg lift variation, lift one arm off the ground while maintaining the plank position, then alternate arms. This variation helps improve shoulder stability and engages your upper back muscles.
  4. Walking Plank: Start in a high plank position with your hands under your shoulders, then “walk” your hands and feet to the right for a few steps, then back to the left. This variation adds a dynamic element to your planks and challenges your coordination and stability.
  5. Plank Jacks: Start in a basic plank position, then jump your feet out to the sides as if you were doing a jumping jack, then jump them back in. This variation adds cardio to your planks and helps improve your explosiveness and agility.

As you explore plank variations, remember to maintain proper form and alignment. If you find a variation too challenging, modify it or return to the basic plank form until you build the necessary strength and stability. Incorporate plank variations gradually, starting with one or two per workout and adding more as you become more comfortable with each one.

Combining Planks with Other Core Exercises

While planks are an excellent exercise for strengthening your core, they shouldn’t be the only core exercise in your routine. Combining planks with other core exercises can help you target different muscles and achieve a well-rounded core workout. Variety in your core training can help prevent boredom, reduce the risk of overuse injuries, and ensure that you’re targeting all the muscles that make up your core. Some exercises that complement planks include:

  1. Bicycle Crunches: Lie on your back with your hands behind your head, then alternate bringing your opposite elbow to your opposite knee while extending your other leg. This exercise targets your rectus abdominis and obliques, helping to build a strong, defined six-pack.
  2. Russian Twists: Sit on the ground with your knees bent and your feet flat, then lift your feet off the ground and rotate your torso to the left and right, tapping your hands on the ground beside you. This exercise targets your obliques and helps improve rotational stability.
  3. Superman: Lie face down on the ground with your arms and legs extended, then lift your arms, legs, and chest off the ground, holding for a few seconds before lowering back down. This exercise targets your lower back and glutes, helping to balance out the work done by your abs during planks.
  4. Dead Bug: Lie on your back with your arms extended towards the ceiling and your legs in a tabletop position, then slowly lower your opposite arm and leg towards the ground, alternating sides. This exercise targets your deep core muscles, including your transverse abdominis, and helps improve coordination and stability.
  5. Bird Dog: Start on your hands and knees with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips, then extend your opposite arm and leg out straight, holding for a few seconds before lowering back down and alternating sides. This exercise targets your entire core, including your back and glutes, and helps improve balance and stability.

Incorporating these exercises into your core routine, along with planks, can help you build a strong, stable core that supports your entire body. Aim to include a variety of core exercises in your workouts, and gradually increase the difficulty and intensity as you build strength and endurance.

Maintaining Proper Nutrition and Hydration

Getting better at doing planks isn’t just about the exercise itself; it’s also about supporting your body with proper nutrition and hydration. When you’re working to strengthen your core, it’s essential to fuel your body with the right nutrients and stay hydrated to support your muscles and overall health. Proper nutrition and hydration can help you recover faster, build strength more effectively, and maintain your energy levels during your workouts.

To support your plank progress, focus on eating a balanced diet that includes:

  1. Lean proteins, such as chicken, fish, and tofu, help build and repair muscle tissue. Aim for 0.8-1.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight, depending on your activity level and fitness goals.
  2. Complex carbohydrates, like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, provide energy for your workouts and support recovery. Choose nutrient-dense sources of carbohydrates, such as sweet potatoes, quinoa, and berries, to get the most nutritional bang for your buck.
  3. Healthy fats, such as avocados, nuts, and olive oil, support hormone production and brain function. Don’t be afraid to include healthy fats in your diet, as they play a crucial role in overall health and well-being.

In addition to a balanced diet, staying hydrated is crucial for maintaining your performance during planks and other exercises. Aim to drink at least 8 glasses of water per day, and more if you’re engaging in intense exercise or sweating heavily. Dehydration can lead to fatigue, muscle cramps, and decreased performance, so make sure to prioritize hydration throughout the day.

Consider keeping a water bottle with you during your workouts and sipping on it regularly to stay hydrated. You can also include hydrating foods in your diet, such as watermelon, cucumbers, and zucchini, to help meet your fluid needs.

Setting Goals and Tracking Your Progress

Setting goals and tracking your progress can be a powerful motivator when working to get better at doing planks. Having a clear target to work towards can help you stay focused and committed, even on days when you don’t feel like working out. Start by setting a specific, achievable goal, such as holding a plank for 1 minute or incorporating 3 plank variations into your routine.

Write down your goal and track your progress each week, noting your plank hold times and any new variations you try. Consider keeping a workout journal or using a fitness app to help you stay organized and motivated. Seeing your progress over time can be a great source of motivation and can help you stay accountable to your goals.

Celebrating your progress, no matter how small can help keep you motivated and committed to your plank practice. Don’t compare yourself to others or get discouraged if you’re not progressing as quickly as you’d like. Everyone’s fitness journey is different, and progress looks different for everyone. Focus on your journey and celebrate each milestone along the way.

Consider sharing your goals and progress with a friend or family member who can offer support and encouragement along the way. Having a workout buddy or accountability partner can help you stay motivated and committed, even on days when you’re feeling less than enthusiastic about your plank practice.

Overcoming Plateaus and Setbacks

As with any fitness journey, you may encounter plateaus and setbacks along the way. It’s normal to have days when you don’t feel like working out or when you don’t see progress as quickly as you’d like. The key is to stay committed and keep showing up, even when it’s hard.

If you find yourself hitting a plateau with your plank progress, try these tips to help you break through:

  1. Mix up your routine: If you’ve been doing the same plank variations for a while, try incorporating new ones to challenge your muscles in different ways. You can also try changing the order of your core exercises or adding new ones to keep your workouts fresh and engaging.
  2. Increase the intensity: If you’re comfortable holding a plank for a certain amount of time, try increasing the intensity by adding weight, such as placing a plate on your back or wearing a weighted vest. You can also try increasing the difficulty of your plank variations, such as moving from a basic plank to a plank with leg lifts.
  3. Focus on form: Sometimes, plateaus can be a sign that your form is slipping. Step back and focus on maintaining proper form throughout each plank, engaging your core and keeping your body in a straight line. You may need to decrease your hold time or intensity temporarily to prioritize form.
  4. Take a rest day: If you’ve been working out consistently for a while, your body may need a break. Take a rest day or two to allow your muscles to recover and come back stronger. You can also try incorporating active recovery, such as yoga or light stretching, to help your body recover without losing momentum.

If you encounter a setback, such as an injury or illness, don’t get discouraged. Focus on taking care of yourself and allowing your body to heal. When you’re ready to get back to your plank practice, start slowly and gradually build back up to your previous level. Remember that setbacks are a normal part of any fitness journey, and they don’t define your progress or success.


Getting better at doing planks requires a combination of proper form, consistent practice, and a commitment to supporting your body with the right nutrients and hydration. By mastering the basic plank form, gradually increasing your hold time, incorporating plank variations, and combining planks with other core exercises, you can build a strong, stable core that supports your entire body.

Remember to set specific goals, track your progress, and celebrate your achievements along the way. Stay committed to your plank practice, even when you encounter plateaus or setbacks, and keep showing up for yourself and your goals. With dedication and consistency, you can achieve your plank goals and enjoy the many benefits of a strong, healthy core.

A strong core is about more than just aesthetics; it’s about building a foundation that supports your entire body and enhances your overall quality of life. By incorporating planks and other core exercises into your routine, you’re investing in your long-term health and well-being. So keep planking, stay committed, and enjoy the journey toward a stronger, healthier you!

Check More Articles

Similar Posts