Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Core Exercises to do Instead of Planks

Want to work on your core, but hate doing planks? It seems like that is the go-to exercise to do for your core. And for good reason. Planks target your whole core in one exercise instead of just specific sections. But I get it, planks can get boring, and it's nice to mix things up a bit. Plus, sometimes planks are not much of an option. If you have back issues or you're recovering from certain surgeries, even pregnancy, planks aren't always the best option. So what are your other options?

I was asked a little while ago what kind of core workouts to do instead of planks. And to be honest, I wasn't quite sure how to answer. There are a lot of options out there, and I think a lot of this depends on what you are working on personally. So I decided to use this as an opportunity to work a little bit more on my own core and share a few of my favorite exercises to do instead of planks.

Your core muscles are more than just your abs. Anything from your chest down to your pelvic muscles are part of your core. And they do a lot of stuff for us. Core muscles are in charge of holding our bodies up, our posture, bowel movements, labor and delivery, movements that involve pushing and lifting, which we use all day every day. So it's important to keep these muscles strong and working. Here are a few of my favorite ways to work my core that aren't planks (even though I like planks too).

Bridged Knee Lifts:

These work your glutes, thighs, lower back, and spinal muscles. Lay on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor.  Raise your bum off the groud, keep your belly button sucked into your spine and raise one foot off the grown at a time.


They work your lower back muscles.  It's much easier to think of ways to work your upper back, so giving your lower back a little good attention is a smart thing to do now and then.  Lay on your stomach and raise your arms and legs off the ground a few inches. You can hold it there, flutter your legs, raise one side at a time...there are a lot of different ways to make this workout work for you! So many options. Switch it up when you need/want to.

Leg raises:

These work your pelvic muscle and lower abs. Lay on your back. Suck your belly button to your spine. You can put your hands under your bum or straight out to your sides for support. Raise your legs up so that your body and legs make a 90-degree angle and then down again but don't drop them to the floor. You can also do one similar to this but instead of raising your legs up and down, you lower them side to side like windshield wipers. 

V Sit: 

These are awesome because it targets all of your abdominal muscles, and inner abdominal muscles as well as your obliques, which is why this is a great option for replacing planks. These are also really easy to modify if you need to. It's completely fine to modify when you need to, just make sure that you're always working to get better at it and not staying stagnant in where you're at.

Sit straight up with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Rock back on your sit bones a little bit so that your feet are off the floor. Extend your feet out and lay back as far as you can without touching the ground and then come back up. Keep your back as straight as you can and only go down as far as you feel like you can. The more you do this, the further you'll be able to go down. 

Oblique reach:

I'll be honest I'm not sure what this one is really called haha. But this sounds right. It targets your oblique muscles which help your back and glute muscles. I know this well because I pulled my glute muscle in high school and it bothered my back for a long time and part of my recovery for this was to work on my obliques. Lay on your back with your knees bent at 90 degrees. I like to cross my ankles when I do this because it's more comfortable but I don't think there's a big difference in the results. Someone correct me if I'm wrong. You're going to twist your hips and reach for the outside of your foot at the same time. While you're doing that, focus on your oblique muscles and using them to get the right movement. 

Standing Abs:

This works your obliques and back. This is one that I don't do all that often and I don't like to do quite as much. They are great, but my hips pop out of place sometimes when I do them and I just don't love that feeling. But it is basically the same as the oblique pinch but you're standing up. Put your hands by your ears and stand with your feet hip distance apart. Suck your belly button into your spine and then raise one leg up and lower the same elbow down, again focusing on your oblique muscles, then lower your leg back down. 


One that most people have heard of and done at least once in their life. This works your abdominals and, actually, your thighs and lower back too. Lay flat on your back with your hands behind your head, elbows sticking out, and legs at bent off the floor. Twist your shoulder toward your opposite knee while you straighten your other leg out. Then switch bringing your other shoulder to the opposite knee.  Be sure not to hold your breath.  And remember to focus on bringing your shoulder up to your knee instead of your elbow. When you do this, it helps you keep better form and not kink or strain your neck. 

There are a lot of other really great options for good core workouts out there.  I really do like to add planks into my workout where I can too because it works your whole core at one time so I feel like I don't need to spend as much time targeting individual areas. No matter what kind of core work you do, it's important for everyone to do exercise for their core muscles. Every person uses them. It doesn't matter the sport or how athletic you are, if you're breathing, you are using your core muscles. So let's get to work on them! 

What is your favorite/least favorite core exercise? 

How often do you spend time working on your core muscles?


  1. These are great!! Deadbug is one of my fav non-plank core exercises!! And any standing abs exercises lol

    1. I don't know what deadbug is. I'm going to look that one up and try it.

  2. What great exercises! I'm not a fan of planks so I'll definitely be using these. Thanks!

    1. I'm so glad it helped you out! Thanks for reading. I hope you have a fantastic day Chirstine!

  3. These are great exercises !! I need to try them!

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