The Spiderman plank is an intermediate-level ab exercise that gets its name from its superhero namesake. Whether this is the move behind Peter Parker’s rock-solid abs remains to be seen, but this one is great for engaging your entire core, including the external and internal oblique muscles, the rectus abdominis (the top layer of your abdominals, often referred to as the ‘six pack’), and the transverse abdominis (the deep core muscles).
They’re also a compound exercise, as they’ll target your triceps, shoulders, and glutes as you crunch your knees into your elbows, like Spiderman crawling up a building.
But what would happen if I added 50 Spiderman planks a day to my workout routine? To find out more, I unrolled my exercise mat and gave the move a go. As a reminder, what works for me might not be right for you and your body. If you’re new to exercise, or you’re returning to exercise following an injury, it’s a good idea to check your form with a personal trainer before adding reps.
How to do a Spiderman plank
Ready to embrace your inner Spiderman? Here’s how to do this plank variation:
- Start in a plank position — either in a high plank or on your elbows. If you’re on your elbows, keep your forearms flat on the floor. If you’re in a high plank position, make sure your hands are shoulder-width apart, stacked underneath your shoulders.
- From here, engage your core, thinking about sucking your belly button into your spine, and squeeze your glutes. Your body should be in a straight line from your head to your heels.
- Raise your right leg, and bend at the knee to touch your right knee to your right elbow. It doesn’t matter if your knee doesn’t actually touch your elbow, just get it as close as possible in one fluid motion.
- Return your leg to its starting position. Repeat on the other side.
- Keep swapping sides until you’ve completed all your reps.
The key to this exercise is moving slowly and with control. Don’t rush through your reps — the slower you move, the harder your core will have to work.
I did the Spiderman plank everyday for a week — here’s what happened
Ready to find out more? Here’s my training diary from the week:
As with most of these challenges, I wasn’t sure what to expect on day one. I’ll often opt for a traditional plank as an ab workout finisher, so Spiderman planks weren’t a regular staple in my ab workouts.
By 30 reps, I was questioning my decision to do 50 on each side — this one really torched my obliques as I crunched my knee into my elbow. As always, I filmed myself working through my reps and sent the footage to a personal trainer friend — she reminded me to keep my core engaged throughout, to avoid arching my lower back.
Days 2 and 3
On days two and three, I continued working through my reps, being sure to move slowly. As a runner, I often find I suffer from tight hip flexors, and found that this plank variation really forced my tight hips to work as I crunched my legs into my elbows.
I much preferred doing the high plank variation of this move, as I found I had more space to crunch my knees, and my arms got a bit of a workout at the same time. That said, if you suffer from sore wrists, dropping down to your elbows will relieve some of this pressure.
By day four, my core was definitely starting to feel the effects of planking like Spiderman. I realized I was making the mistake of holding my breath during the move — something that often happens when I focus on bracing my core. I focused on breathing like I would in Pilates, exhaling for the exertion part of the exercise, in this instance, when I was crunching my knee towards my elbow.
On day five, I decided to mix things up and opted to do the planks on my elbows to give my wrists a break. For me, I found keeping my forearms on the ground make the move a little easier, that said, my core was still working super hard as I crunched back and forth.
As with all plank variations, avoid sticking your butt in the air during this exercise — it makes the move a lot easier, but also means you’re not working your upper body and core as hard.
On day six, I decided to up the ante and add in a Spiderman push-up, giving my upper body more of a workout. For this variation, as you crunch your knee to your elbow, bend your elbows, lowering your torso to the floor. As you extend your leg back to your starting position, push back up to a high plank.
This was really tough, and I lasted about 30 reps before having to take a breather.
At last, the end was in sight. For my final day I skipped on the Spiderman push-ups, and just went back to the standard Spiderman planks. What did 350 reps teach me about this ab exercise? It’s a brilliant one for engaging the obliques, and is an excellent anti-rotational ab exercise to add to your routine. As your core has to work hard to prevent your torso twisting as you crunch your leg in, you’re improving your anti-rotational strength, protecting your spine from injury.
Of course, I didn’t notice any visible changes after a week of planks — visible abs are the result of a low body fat percentage, not endless core exercises. If visible abs are your goal, here’s how to calculate your body fat percentage, and why it matters.
As a reminder, you shouldn’t be working your core everyday — your body needs time to rest and recover for your muscles to grow. Either way, this one challenged me, and I’ll be adding it to my core workouts in the future. Who knows, perhaps I’ll do Spiderman crawls next?