When your Standard bodyweight planks no longer give the thrill and you can hold your own body weight longer without breaking a sweat, it’s time to step up your game with a weighted plank.
By this phase, you already have mastered the correct plank form. This deceivingly simple isometric exercise plays a fundamental move that you can carry over to other more complex exercises like mountain climbers and Burpees. But with a weighted plank, it supercharges your upper body strength, improves your muscle endurance in athletic performance and other training, and enhances stability of your core.
So, if you want to master the weighted plank to level up your ab workout, here’s a definitive guide to set you on the right course! As the saying goes, “a minute isn’t long, until you plank for one.” Let’s get some core reaping action.
We’ll Guide You On:
- How to do Weighted Planks
- Benefits of Doing the Weighted Plank
- Common Weighted Plank Mistakes to Avoid
- Weighted Plank Muscles Worked
- Weighted Plank vs Bodyweight Skull Crusher
- Our Trainer’s Suggested Reps, Sets & Programs
- Weighted Plank Variations
- Weighted Plank Alternatives
- FAQs About Weighted Planks
How To Do Weighted Planks
What You’ll Need:
- Weight Plates – Adding weight plate will depend on your current core strength. If you’re a beginner, try using a pound first. Then, increase the time and weight as you get stronger.
- Weighted Vest – If you’re having a hard time putting the plate on your back alone, you can try wearing a weighted vest. It’s easier to use, and you don’t have to worry about it slipping off.
- Dumbbells – You can use them for different plank variations to increase resistance and core engagement.
Step 1: Assume Tabletop Stance
Do a quadruped or tabletop position by going down on your hands and knees with your shoulders placed directly over your wrists and your hips right on top of your knees.
Step 2: Add Weight
Have a partner place the weight squarely on your upper back. If you don’t have a partner, you can lie flat on the ground and slide the plate onto your back from behind. Then, pop into the plank position. You can only do this if you’re confident you can handle the weight.
Another way to put the weight without any help is starting from your hands and knee. Then slide the weight onto your back. After, step back into the plank position. This is a better way of placing the weight on your back alone since you don’t need to pop up.
Step 3: Do a Push-up Position
With the weight secured on your back and core engaged, slowly extend one leg at a time until you’re in a Push-up position. Ensure that your body is straight and you have a neutral spine.
Step 4: Lower Down to Your Forearms
While keeping the same push-up form, lower down onto your forearms, stacking your shoulders over your elbows.
Step 5: Hold the Plank Position Until You Fatigue
Hold the plank until you fatigue and carefully reverse the motion. Ask someone to remove the weight or slowly go down until you can safely remove it by yourself.
4 Weighted Plank Benefits
1. Better Core Strength
For some, core strength can be a limiting factor when doing loaded movements like Deadlifts and heavy squats. Including weighted planks in your training program with loaded exercises can help you understand what it feels to maximally contract your core and enhance your ability to engage your body for a more extended period.
2. Enhances the Ability to Brace The Muscles
Bracing your core is necessary while you lift heavyweights. It’s the one that shields your spine from unwanted torsion. Proper bracing begins with your core muscles, back, and front. You need to tighten them as hard as you can, so it means that if you have a stronger core, you have a better ability to brace for an extended period.
3. Improves Posture Necessary for Other Exercises
Doing weighted planks can help you train positionings and muscle groups used in many power, strength, and fitness movements. Although the plank is a stationary exercise, it can reinforce proper spinal and pelvic stabilization and increase muscle activation and strength of your abdominals, obliques, and deeper core muscles.
4. Decreases Lower Back Pain
Many people suffer from lower back pain, whether it’s because of a sedentary lifestyle or a weakened core. Fortunately, weighted planks can help you alleviate this pain. If you execute this workout, you can increase your core strength, taking off the pressure on your lower back muscles.
Common Weighted Plank Mistakes To Avoid
Arching Your Back
When performing a weighted plank, it’s critical to keep your body in a straight line from head to toe. You need to ensure that your head, neck, and spine must be in complete alignment to experience its effectiveness. While it’s a normal tendency to arch your back by letting your hips sag to alleviate some of the pain, it can weaken it and, worst, cause chronic injuries.
Extending Your Arms
Remember, your arms should always be parallel with your shoulders when doing a weighted plank. All the weight of your upper body must fall directly over your hands with your palms planted firmly on the ground.
One common mistake people make is stretching their arms forward to make the pain of doing weighted planks bearable. However, as you do this, you nullify the benefits that you can get from doing the exercise. If you’re starting to feel tired, take a break, then continue rather than doing an incorrect form and cheating.
Putting Tension On Your Neck
Keeping your body in a straight line while performing a weighted plank is only one part of the movement. You also need to be aware of the placement of your head. Although you’re not using it to support the motion, maintaining its position can make a significant difference.
If you tend to look down when you execute a weighted plank, you can experience neck pain. Guarantee that your neck is straight and your shoulders relaxed to prevent this from happening.
Weighted Plank Muscles Worked
Beyond just being straightforward core exercises, weighted planks work the following muscles :
- Rectus Abdominis
- Transverse Abdominals
- Internal and External Obliques
- Hip Flexors
- Erector Spinae
This workout has a broad application of power, strength, sports, fitness, and training. It activates your abdominal muscles and other upper body muscles in an isometric manner to reinforce proper core tension and bracing capabilities and support core growth. Depending on the variation, you can focus on different muscle groups.
Weighted Plank vs Bodyweight Skull Crushers
Weighted planks and Bodyweight Skull Crushers are two entirely different exercises that are difficult to compare since it’s like comparing apples to oranges. While they are both upper body-focused workouts, the movement pattern and target muscles are different.
When doing weighted planks, you’re stationary, and you’re bracing and tightening your core to activate your abs. On the other hand, you execute bodyweight skull crushes by contracting your triceps to push your body off the ground.
In addition, weighted planks are mainly a core movement that targets the muscles in the stomach and the back, while bodyweight skull crushers target your triceps.
Our Trainer’s Suggested Reps, Sets, and Programs:
For Greater Core Strength
If you want to train your core strength and development, you can use a combination of loaded planks and regular planks. You can begin with the recommendation below and increase the difficulty by adding more weight or extending the time.
Perform two to three sets of forty-five to sixty seconds, resting for sixty to ninety seconds between sets.
For Enhanced Muscle Endurance
To increase your core endurance and stamina, do longer duration sets and increase your time under tension. Try executing two to four sets of one to two minutes, resting for thirty to sixty seconds in between. For a more advanced training program, you can do weighted planks as active resting periods to total body circuits.
Weighted Plank Variations
If your aim is to strengthen your core and solidify your abs and obliques, then these variations can help you realize that goal.
Dumbbell Side Plank
Many people skip training their obliques, and it’s okay if you do. However, if you want to have defined love handles, you need to incorporate a weighted side plank in your ab workouts.
Here, you just grab a dumbbell with your right hand and get into a side plank position on your left arm. Then hold for as long as you can while engaging your core. Do it twice on both sides to get better results.
Weighted Bird Dog Plank
The bird dog plank is an excellent plank variation that you can perform with weights. It can strengthen your core and develop your lower back strength which reduces the chances of injuries. You can also include this movement with other posture correcting exercises, as it can help you enhance your body composition.
Weighted Plank to Renegade Row
If you’re looking for a more advanced variation of the weighted plank, then you should do this workout. Aside from your core, weighted plank to renegade row can also strengthen your lats.
Weighted Plank Alternatives
Diversify your routine with these weighted plank alternatives to further increase power in your abdominal muscles and improve muscle endurance and growth.
You can execute this alternative in a prone or supinated position with your feet and chest/upper back on a bench, suspended from the ground like a bridge. Reverse planks can be challenging as they require a stronger hollow hold position and needs a proper back extension.
L-Sit is another challenging core exercise since it demands a tremendous amount of isometric core and hip flexor strength. Here, you’ll need to support your entire body off the ground with your legs extended. This gymnastic-based motion can effectively activate your obliques.
Bicycle crunches may require more coordination, but their effectiveness is definitely worth it!
Contrary to a bodyweight plank, you need to lie on your back and hold your arms at the sides of your head to do this alternative. Then, you’ll lift your shoulders and push your lower back against the floor with the help of your abs. Reach your right knee with your left elbow and repeat with the left knee and right elbow.
Weighted planks can be more challenging than a regular bodyweight plank. However, the more tension you experience, the better results it yields. So, don’t hesitate to include this workout in your ab routine to improve your core strength, enhance your ability to brace, develop a good posture and alleviate your lower back pain.