10 Beginner Plank Exercises That Will Help Get You a Flat Stomach

You may have heard the saying that abs are made in the kitchen. It’s true. Without a proper diet, no amount of beginner plank exercises will give you the flat stomach you desire. However, that doesn’t mean you should abandon abs work-outs altogether.

Strengthening your core has benefits that go beyond creating sexy flat abs. Your core is involved in almost everything you do. Weak core muscles can lead to bad posture, lower back pain, and leave you susceptible to other muscle injuries. By strengthening your core, you can prevent yourself from a lot of pain later down the road.

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What Muscles do Planks Work?

Planks work out the whole body, and are a great isometric exercise to target several muscle groups. The core muscles (transversus abdominis, rectus abdominis, internal oblique, and external oblique), upper body muscles (trapezius, rhomboid major and minor), and lower body muscles (quadriceps, gluteus) are all worked during each plank you complete.

How Long Should You Hold a Plank?

Most experts say that holding a plank from ten to thirty seconds for multiple reps is plenty to get the benefits from the exercise. You can work your way up to one to two minutes as you get stronger, but there really is no benefit of going over two minutes. The best way to approach planks is with several sets of shorter planks to reap the most from the exercise.

Benefits of Planking

There are tons of benefits from planking, including a stronger core, muscular endurance, pain relief, increased balance, and improved posture. There are also some possible benefits that include a low risk of injury completing the exercise, reducing lower back pain, and improved athletic performance. All of this is to say that planking has benefits for athletes and working-class people, as it targets and strengthens multiple parts of the body.

10. High Plank Mountain Climbers

  • Step 1: Start in a straight arm plank
  • Step 2: Draw one knee in toward your chest
  • Step 3: Step that leg back into its original position
  • Step 4: Repeat with the other leg (you can do this at a slow or fast pace)

9. Plank Walks

  • Step 1: Begin in plank position on hands and toes, arms straight and hands directly below your shoulders.
  • Step 2: Lower down onto your left forearm, then down onto your right forearm. Lift back up onto your left hand, then back onto your right hand.
  • Step 3: Alternate lowering and lifting on both arms. Repeat for 20 seconds for 3 sets.

8. Forearm Plank

  • Step 1: Begin in plank position, then drop down to both forearms.
  • Step 2: Hold here for as long as you can. Gradually build up your endurance until you can hold this position for up to one minute.

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7. Decline Forearm Plank

Credit: Gabe Pierce
  • Step 1: Place a chair, box, or bench behind your body.
  • Step 2: Put you feet up onto the chair or other stable object, so that only your toes touch the surface and your forearms are against the ground.
  • Step 3: Get into a forearm plank position
  • Step 4: Hold for desired amount of time

6. Side Plank

  • Step 1: Begin in the forearm plank position.
  • Step 2: Carefully twist your body over onto your right side so that only your right forearm remains on the ground, and your other arm rests comfortably on your side. For an extra challenge, try lifting your left arm and leg in the air.
  • Step 3: Hold this position for as long as you can, gradually building up to one minute. Repeat on your other side.

5. Single Arm Plank

  • Step 1: Start in a straight arm plank position
  • Step 2: Squeeze your thigh and glute muscles as you lift one hand off the mat
  • Step 3: Bring the arm either straight out or bring it to your hip
  • Step 4: Hold for a few seconds before putting your arm back on the mat; Repeat

4. Knee Plank

  • Step 1: Begin in a tabletop position with hands and knees on the ground, arms straight and hands directly below shoulders.
  • Step 2: Tuck your toes into the floor and slightly raise your knees off the ground, keeping your abs tight and back straight. For an extra challenge, alternate tapping one knee at a time on the ground.
  • Step 3: Hold plank for 20 seconds for 3 sets.

3. Reverse Planks

  • Step 1: Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you, and bring your hands behind your hips, rotating your palms until your fingertips point towards your toes
  • Step 2: As you inhale, press your hands and feet down and lift your hips towards the ceiling. You will be pressing the heels of your feet into the mat as you keep your legs straight
  • Step 3: Once in a comfortable position, relax your head back and hold this position for thirty seconds
  • Step 4: Lower your hips back to the mat and repeat

2. Rocking Plank

  • Step 1: Start in a forearm plank
  • Step 2: Rock your entire body forward, going onto your toes and having your shoulders go past your elbows
  • Step 3: Rock back to starting position, and continue this movement for fifteen to thirty seconds

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1. Plank Jacks, Beginner Plank Exercises

beginner plank exercises
Credit: Olivia Bauso
  • Step 1: Get into a straight arm plank position
  • Step 2: Jump your feet out like you are doing a horizontal jumping jack
  • Step 3: Jump your feet back together, always maintaining plank position
  • Step 4: Continue to jump in and out for around ten to twenty seconds to start, and work your way up to sixty seconds or jump faster to make it more challenging

How many planks should a beginner start with?

Start with three sets of thirty seconds, and as you get stronger you can increase the time to three sets of one minute. Shorter planks will help build muscle and tolerance to the exercise, and allow you to complete longer planks.

Which plank is best for beginners?

The straight arm plank is best for beginners. Even though is requires a bit more arm and core strength, the straight arm plank is easier to perform than the traditional forearm plank.

Do planks burn belly fat?

Planks will use up some calories, but this exercise will not be instrumental in burning belly fat. You will need to add in more aerobic exercises to help burn that fat, and customize your diet in order to lose the weight you do not want anymore.


Working your abs is essential for any balanced exercise program. While a proper diet has the most effect on creating clear-cut abs, that’s no to say abs exercises don’t play a role:

Doing these beginner plank exercises builds muscle, and muscle is metabolically active tissue that burns calories, therefore raising your metabolism.

And one of the most effective moves for building core strength and stability is the plank. The above ten plank variations can be done at home or at the gym.

As with all exercising, practicing good form prevents injury and makes the moves more effective.