7 plank exercises that'll blast your core

Man in a forearm plank position on exercise mat in a light roomwith fists clenched
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

They say a strong core is the foundation of fitness and for good reason. A well-built core not only enhances your fitness performance but also provides a solid framework for daily movements and overall functional fitness. If you're looking to unlock your physical potential and carve out a rock-solid physique, it's time to focus on your core and abdominal muscles. 

Caroline Idiens' has developed an exciting seven-move ab workout featuring a series of plank variations that are designed to target key muscles in the core and abdominal area. The fitness coach’s dynamic workout goes beyond surface-level exercises. When it comes to a well-rounded physique, it's crucial to target the intricate network of muscles in the core and abs.

Get ready to ignite your core strength, engage your entire midsection, and redefine your fitness journey with Idiens’ routine.

7 plank variations for building a stronger core

This core workout offers exciting variations to traditional planks, engaging the arms for a full-body challenge. If you can, add some light dumbbells to the routine (check out the best adjustable dumbbells if you're still working out from home) as this adds an extra level of resistance, helping to further engage the muscles and enhance the effectiveness of the exercises. Idiens advises squeezing your glutes during planks for enhanced form and results — bear this in mind when you start to tire.

Front Raises and Cross Climbers

Start by holding a dumbbell in each hand at your sides, palms facing your body, and raise both arms forward to shoulder level while keeping them straight. Then, lower the dumbbells back down and immediately move into a plank position, alternating bringing each knee towards the opposite elbow in a cross-climbing motion. Repeat this sequence for the desired number of repetitions.


Put your dumbbells to one side for this exercise. Start in a plank position on your mat with elbows extended, shoulders over wrists, and hips in line with your shoulders. Brace your stomach and lower your left elbow onto the mat underneath your left shoulder, followed by your right. Pause in a plank position on your elbows, then press your left palm back onto the mat followed by your right hand. Read what happened when this fitness writer did 90 commando planks a day for a week here. 

Plank Reaches

To perform plank reaches, start in a high plank position with your hands directly under your shoulders and your body in a straight line. Engage your core and glutes as you lift one arm off the ground and reach it forward, extending it as far as you comfortably can. Maintain stability and avoid rotating your hips. Return your arm to the starting position and repeat on the other side, alternating between reaching forward with each arm while keeping your core strong.

What are the benefits? 

A strong core not only creates a stronger and fitter appearance around the stomach area but it also improves physical performance across various sports and exercises. A solid core provides stability, allowing for efficient movement and reduced risk of injury. 

Keeping on top of your core strength helps support everyday activities like lifting, bending, and maintaining proper posture. In a study published by the Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology, researchers found that a workplace intervention to improve flexibility and strength in trunk stabilizers or core muscle groups was successful in reducing worker injuries.

There is no denying that having a strong core makes our lives easier in many ways. That being said, it's important to work out all of our different muscle groups for overall strength and balanced development. So, while ab routines are important, a well-rounded fitness regimen ensures optimal performance and overall fitness. 

If visible abs are your goal, you'll need to focus on your overall body fat percentage, as well as working the ab muscles themselves. Here's how to calculate your body fat percentage, and why it matters.

More from Tom's Guide

Jessica Downey
Fitness Writer

Jessica is an experienced fitness writer with a passion for running. Her love for keeping fit and fueling her body with healthy and enjoyable food quite naturally led her to write about all things fitness and health-related. If she isn’t out testing the latest fitness products such as the latest running shoe or yoga mat for reviewing then she can be found writing news and features on the best ways to build strength, active aging, female health, and anything in between. Before then she had a small stint writing in local news, has also written for Runners World UK (print and digital), and gained experience with global content marketing agency, Cedar Communications.

Born and raised in Scotland, Jessica is a massive fan of exercising and keeping active outdoors. When at home she can be found running by the sea, swimming in it, or up a mountain. This continued as she studied and trained to become a PPA-accredited magazine journalist in Wales. And since working and living in London, she splits her time between weight training in the gym, trying new fitness classes, and finding scenic running routes. Jessica enjoys documenting this on her fitness-inspired Instagram page @jessrunshere where she loves engaging with like-minded fitness junkies.

She is a big fan of healthy cooking and loves learning more about this area with expert nutritionists she has met over the years. Jessica is a big advocate for building healthy relationships with food rather than building restrictive attitudes towards it. When she isn’t eating or running she also enjoys practicing yoga in her free time as it helps her to unwind and benefits her performance in other sports.