The Ultimate Guide to Plank Progressions

All movement begins at the core. Running, sitting, lifting, throwing all requires adequate core strength as well as the proper core coordination. Improving core strength and coordination ensures the correct firing of musculature to prevent excess strain on our joints, tendons, and ligaments throughout the entire body.

The traditional plank exercise offers a variety of progressions to challenge the  superficial and deeper muscles of the core in a variety of planes of motion.

1. Knee Planks

Starting face down on floor, prop yourself up on your elbows directly below shoulders and arm straight out. Come up into plank position on your knees, keeping trunk straight (no hinge at the hips).

2. Toe Planks

Same as knee planks (propped on elbows) only now we come up onto our toes.




3. High Planks

Start in plank position on hands and toes (known as the high plank position). Place hands directly underneath shoulders to prevent excess strain on the shoulders.

A good cue for the high plank position is being able to balance a foam roll on your spine.


3. High Plank Rocks

Intermediate core exercise that begins to challenge secondary core stabilizers. Start in high plank position on toes. Rock to left side by lifting right hand off ground. Place back on ground and rock to right by lifting left hand. 



4. High Plank Leg Lifts

In the high plank position, on toes with feet shoulder width apart, lift right until in line with body. Alternate legs throughout entirety of exercise.




5. High Plank Toe Touch

In the high plank position, on toes with feet shoulder width apart, lift right leg,  and touch floor to right of body. Repeat on left and alternate sides for one minute.



6. High Plank Reach

Starting in high plank position, lift right arm until parallel with body. Maintain plank position (don't let body roll to one side). Repeat on left side. Alternate sides for one minute.


9. High Plank Knee to Elbow

An intermediate plank exercises that begins to incorporate full body movement to challenge core coordination and lateral core stabilizers. Starting in high plank position, bring right knee to right elbow. Repeat on left side.


10. High Plank Shoulder Touch

An advanced core strengthening exercise. Starting in the plank position on your hands and toes, both shoulder and hip width apart. With right hand touch left shoulder and place back down. Repeat with left hand touching right shoulder. Accumulate one minute.


8. High Plank Alternating Reach 

In high plank position, lift left arm and right leg simultaneously until both are parrallel to body.

As you can tell (from the video), this is a challenging balance and core challenge.


11. High Plank Roll to Side Plank

Starting in high plank position, rotate body to left, lifting left arm straight into the air. Keep gaze on the raised hand. Feet can rotate to improve balance in side plank position. Hold for two seconds and repeat on other side.

12. Bear Crawls

Turning the plank into a full body, dynamic core strength/coordination progression.

Starting in an ‘All Four’ position with hands and toes on floor and keeping back straight. Slowly walk right hand and left foot forward 5-6 inches. Follow with left hand and right foot. Repeat side to side, ‘crawling’ forward on floor. Maintain flat back throughout duration. Continue for one minute.

There is an art to prescribing exercise progressions that provide a consistent challenge to the body while being safe to perform following an injury. At Evolve Performance Healthcare, we specialize in creating individualized plans based on client goals and starting points.


If you have questions, please don't hesitate to call (503) 954-2495 or write