7 Ways to Progressively Advance Your Plank + Life Update/Thoughts

Without making it a 5 minute exercisePlank

Good morning! Open-mouthed smile

I actually had this post ready to go for yesterday morning, but then on Monday night I received an email from Lindsay. In it she asked me to join her and many other bloggers in a day of blogging silence. To step away from the scheduled posting and social media in order to both honor the victims and those affected by Friday’s tragedy, and to celebrate loved ones around us. I thought it was a unique way to honor Sandy Hook, so I obliged.

Did everyone have a good weekend? Ours was extremely low key – we basically stayed in and packed for the entire 48 hours, but hey, we’re making a lot of progress!


Actually, I think the only time I left the house on Saturday, was to go to yoga class, where the (very large) class did its own form of honoring the Sandy Hook victims. We started and ended the class by sending any healing we received (aka, I prayed) through practice to the victims and family of the tragic Sandy Hook shooting. I felt  a really powerful vibe in the room – so much that I found myself tearing up. I can’t even put my feelings about it into words.  I’ve tried, and they’re not for-the-public-appropriate, and involve profanities.

On a more positive note, although we barely left the house, we did get to see some friends who we sold our elliptical to (tear Sad smile I’m going to miss that thing!) as well as spent the evening with some very close friends who brought us pizza and wine (so sweet!) playing euchre and eating and drinking said pizza and wine.

Oh, I also made a lot of meals in, and realized I effing love ground lamb:


Especially when it’s in a coconut curry sauce with butternut squash.


I’m sad it’s gone now Sad smile

And now here we are back to Monday Tuesday. Yesterday was officially my last “full working day” here in Normal. Now I’m just training a couple clients here and there before we take off and move to Colorado in a couple weeks. Since we’re going to Florida for a week before we go, I figured it’d be hectic enough traveling, packing, and wrapping things up. Don’t worry, I plan to blog semi-regularly amongst the chaos and fun Winking smile


The last time we were on the beach we’re headed to in FL was for our wedding more than 4 years ago. It’s going to bring back SO many memories! Red heart

Ok, ok. Enough rambling! Let’s talk planks.

Ask any of my clients what my favorite ab exercise is and every single one will tell you some variation of a plank. Crunches are not only extremely overrated, but they can also be very bad for the back, as flexing the spine over and over and over again can lead to damage of the lumbar spinae. They’re also a completely unilateral exercise, which can lead to muscle imbalances. The key is to train the entire core.

Enter, the plank:

Although the core gets a lot of attention naturally in most compound exercises (deadlifts, squats, pushups, pull ups, etc.) planks are a great way to build up the core muscles to even further support these lifts. However, regular planks can get kind of boring, and honestly, I’ve never held a plank for longer than 90 seconds without being bored out of my mind. Instead of adding seconds upon minutes upon minutes to your plank each week to make it more advanced, try these plank progressions!

7 Week Plank Progressions

As always, please consult your doctor before beginning any new exercise program!



Week 1. Plank w/ Knee Raises: Grab a stopwatch or timer. In a plank position, with your abs held tight, shoulders over elbows, and body in one, straight, strong line. Hold the plank for 10 seconds. Drop the knees and rest for 5. Repeat this sequence 5 times through on day 1. Add 2-3 more 15 second sequences 2 more days this week.

Week 2. Elevated Plank: Rest your forearms on a bench or sturdy surface, in plank position. Hold the plank for 30 seconds. Add 20 seconds each day, two more days this week.

Week 3. Elevated Plank on Stability Ball: In a plank position, place your forearms on a stability ball and hold your plank for 20 seconds. Add 10-15 seconds each day, two more days this week.

Week 4. Plank and Reach: Get in a basic forearm plank position. On day one, reach one arm out for a count, and then switch, 10 reps on each side. On day two, from a plank position, lift one leg a couple inches off the ground for a count. Switch sides and complete 10 lifts on each side. On day 3, simultaneously lift your L leg and reach your R arm out in front of you for a count, and switch, repeating 10 times on each side. You can also do this in a high plank position.

Week 5. Feet-elevated Plank: Place your toes on a stability ball, and rise up into a high plank, with your shoulders directly over your wrists. Hold for as long as you can all three days this week.

Week 6. Stability-Ball Plank w/ Knee Raises: Place your hands on a stability ball, directly under your shoulders. Get your balance first, then slowly and with control, raise your toward your chest. Switch sides, repeating 10-12 on each side. If this is too difficult, start with the ball pressed up against a wall.

Week 7. 3-Point Feet-elevated Plank: Ahh. I love/hate this one! Get into the same plank position as week 5. Now lift one of your legs a few inches in the air. Hold for as long as you can, and then switch. If this is too difficult at first, start with the ball pressed against a wall.

Some other plank variations I love are the plank and pull down, side plank and row, plank ups, and straight-leg plank jumps.

Gotta jet! Clients to train (which will be sad to leave some today!!Sad smile)

What’s your favorite plank variation?

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  1. I am going to start training clients in January (so excited!) and I am definitely going to push planks into every routine possible. I am saving this to refer to often!
    Erica { EricaDHouse.com } recently posted..The End.My Profile

  2. I love how you break this down. I had so many friends injure themselves by trying to go too long to soon b
    Miz recently posted..My E-BOOK is here! My E-Book is here!My Profile

  3. Great break down of the progression. So many people jump right into and get frustrated.
    Angela @ Happy Fit Mama recently posted..More Time to Enjoy Thanks to P&G eStoreMy Profile

  4. I LOVE planks! I like doing side to side planks too! Love your progression. I agree, holding planks endlessly can get sooooo boring. 5 minutes is as long as I’ve held, with netflix going on my phone to keep from being too bored.
    Sarena (The Non Dairy Queen) recently posted..Friday Fodder!My Profile

  5. Can’t wait to try the planks! I love ground pork. I could eat it with every meal. I’ll have to try the lamb :)
    Kristen@Change of Pace recently posted..SlidersMy Profile

  6. Love this! I love planks but usually max out around a minute – it gets too boring. Now I know how to work my way up without holding the thing all day. 😀
    Sam @ Better With Sprinkles recently posted..freEDom: Societal ED.My Profile

  7. Love this! Who knew there were so many different ways to progress a plank! They all look killer to me! Love them!
    Danielle (@CleanFoodCreativeFitness) recently posted..Pumpkin Spice Mini MuffinsMy Profile

  8. I’m not a fan of ab exercises in general (and I’m sure it shows), but since I don’t get a lot of packing room for my trip back to the ‘rents for the holidays, it’s going to be one of my go-to moves over christmas. Figured I can do it over commercial breaks during “Home Alone”. 😉
    Amy @ Second City Randomness recently posted..Called OutMy Profile

  9. LOVE this! Planks are one of my favorite ab moves for sure and I love finding ways to change them up a bit.
    Katie @ Talk Less, Say More recently posted..Workout: Maximize Your TimeMy Profile

  10. Oh, I love to hate planks. I think my fave would be rocking plank, or side plank push ups?
    Kacy recently posted..[LISTEN] My bitch inner voiceMy Profile

  11. Love planks. Love to hate them, but love to love them. They’re great!
    Sarah @ Blonde Bostonian recently posted..Running Sunglasses GiveawayMy Profile

  12. Love this! Pinned and Tweeted. Thank you.
    Elle recently posted..Portable Healthy Snacks… Don’t Leave Home Without ThemMy Profile

  13. I’ve noticed lately when doing planks that my lower back starts to hurt. Is that from a weak core? Should I continue to do planks to strengthen?
    Molly @ Just Your Average Athlete recently posted..Toys for Tots Charity BootcampMy Profile

  14. I always get so frustrated with doing planks, I will be trying this though and really trying to do my plank a days! I always feel like i need to do more core work.

  15. Plank jacks are awesome or plank jack then do an in and out like your straight leg plank jumps. There are so many plank variations how could anyone get bored doing planks?!

  16. I love the breakdown of these plank progressions! I tend to just use the simple plank 3 x a week. But, I’ll definitely be incorporating these now! Thanks for this list:) I love all different planks I guess supermans and side planks are probably my all time favorite though.
    Lisa recently posted..Updates and a VlogMy Profile

  17. moving is so scary & exciting all at once! i can’t wait to move this summer and finally be on my own! it won’t be too long before you’re all comfy & cozy in your new home! i’ve never had lamb but it sounds AMAZING! especially in that curry which i’m PRAYING you post that recipe!
    juliegolean recently posted..weekly meal planning and BSK turkey bakeMy Profile

  18. Good luck with the upcoming move! Planks and I have a love/hate relationship, but I find once I get into a routine of doing them regularly, I really get results. Doing them regularly is the hard part!
    Peggy recently posted..Halibut w/ Spinach & Scallop-Citrus Beurre BlancMy Profile

  19. What tank are you wearing? It looks cute.

    …ripped arms, btw!
    Hillary {Nutrition Nut on the Run} recently posted..To Race or to R.I.C.E.My Profile

  20. Great post! And I love the final one. Such a challenge!!!

  21. Love this! Even though none of these are new-to-me variations, it’s nice to have the reminder. I get REALLY bored holding planks, too! My new favorite plank, though, was part of Amanda’s Holiday Bootie Buster Challenge Workout of the Week. You should check it out :-)

    Katie H. recently posted..Fabulous Friday: DIY Peppermint MochaMy Profile


  1. […] Trainer Paige’s post on “7 Ways to Progressively Advance Your Plank” caught my eye & effectively distracted the arm-shaking me while I was planking away this […]

  2. […] Get more of a planking challenge with Paige’s 7 Ways to Progressively Advance Your Plank. […]

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