As a runner, having a strong core is important for preventing injuries, maintaining form while you run and helping you run faster. Of all the dozens of exercises runners can do to improve their core strength, the plank is perhaps the most popular. While the traditional plank is an excellent way to strengthen your core, doing the same thing over and over again eventually becomes less challenging and less effective. Try some of these variations on the popular exercise to keep your core routine from getting stale.
Starting in a traditional plank position with your elbows directly below your shoulders and your body forming a straight line from your head to your feet, lift your right foot off the ground and drive your knee toward the outside of your right arm. Return your foot to the ground, and repeat on the other side for 30 seconds to a minute. You can also perform this move from a straight-arm or high-plank position, with your hands flat on the ground, directory below your shoulders.
Begin in the high plank position, with your hands directly below your shoulders. Lower your right elbow to the ground, followed by your left, so you’re now in a low-plank position. Place your left hand back on the ground and push up, followed by your right, so you’re back in a high plank position. Repeat this up-and-down pattern for 30 seconds to a minute.
Shoulder tap plank
Begin in a high plank position. Keeping your body still, take your right hand off the ground and tap your left shoulder. Return your right hand to the ground and repeat on the other side, alternating from side to side for 30 seconds to a minute.
Plank with arm-raise
Begin in a high plank position. Keeping your torso still, raise one hand off the ground and extend your arm out in front of you. Return that hand to the ground and repeat on the other side, alternating for 30 seconds to a minute. To make this even harder, when you raise your arm in the air, trying lifting your opposite foot off the ground.
Begin in a standing position. Bend down until your hands reach the floor (you can bend your knees if you have to), and walk out with your hands until your body is in a high plank position. Pause, then walk your hands back toward your feet until you’re standing again. To make this even harder, do a pushup every time you get into a plank position.
Side plank with a knee raise
Get into a side plank position, with your elbow directly below your shoulder, your top arm extended toward the ceiling and your feet stacked on top of each other. Keeping your body still, drive the knee of your top leg upward while bringing the elbow of your extended arm down to meet it. Return to the side plank position, and repeat for 30 seconds before switching to the other side.
Side plank with knee raise, version two
Begin again in the side plank position, this time the foot of your top leg on the floor and the foot of your bottom leg slightly in front of it. Balancing on your top leg, with your core tight, drive the knee of your bottom leg toward your chest, then return to the starting position. Repeat for 30 seconds before switching to the other side.