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This Full-Body Plank Workout Takes Just 5 Minutes to Do

Sneaky shoulder work awaits you.


Read when you’ve got time to spare.

Woman in forearm plank

All Images: Katie Thompson

Planks are great for your core, which you probably already know. But something that people don't shout from the rooftops enough? Planks are also great for working your upper body—specifically your shoulders— and your legs, hamstrings, and butt, if you're doing them right. And this is especially true if you add some movement to them, like jumping your legs out and in (plank jacks) or walking your arms from a forearm plank to a high plank and back again (plank up-downs). In fact, you can get a total-body workout by just doing plank variations and nothing else.

The workout below includes five different types of planks that work your body in slightly different ways. Together, they'll hit most of the major muscle groups in your body. Some of them will even get your heart rate up, giving you a nice bonus cardio workout while you're at it.

Before you jump in, let's quickly talk plank form. To get into plank position, place your hands directly underneath your shoulders and extend your legs out behind you. Leave a little space between your feet—for the planks that involve movement, try separating your feet a little further apart to help add some stability so you can avoid rocking your hips. When you're in a plank, squeeze your butt cheeks and quads and tuck your tailbone under just a bit. This will help you keep your abs engaged and avoid arching your lower back. If you feel any strain in your lower back, lift your hips up just a tad, and squeeze your butt and abs tighter to make sure they are staying engaged. Also, do an upper-body check. Your shoulders should be relaxed, not pulled back so that your shoulder blades touch nor rounded forward. Think about engaging your back muscles to keep your upper back strong and flat. ( These visuals might help you with form, too!)

For a forearm plank, you'll follow all the same cues, except your elbows will be directly beneath your shoulders and your forearms will be flat on the floor.

OK, now that you've got a perfect plank, try the workout below. It's great for days when you only have five minutes to sweat, or after a run or other cardio-focused workout.

The Workout


Do each exercise for 30 seconds before transitioning into the next. Try to minimize rest, but listen to your body and take short breaks in between moves if you feel your form is starting to suffer. Then, repeat the whole circuit again, for a total of 5 minutes of planking goodness.

  • Plank Up-Down — 30 seconds
  • Plank to Downward Dog Tap — 30 seconds
  • Plank Jack — 30 seconds
  • Forearm Plank Rock — 30 seconds
  • Forearm Side Plank Twist — 30 seconds
  • Do 2 times.
Here's how to do each move:

Demoing the move below are Crystal Williams, a group fitness instructor and trainer who teaches at residential and commercial gyms across New York City; and Cookie Janee, a background investigator and security forces specialist in the Air Force Reserve.

Plank Up-Down

  • Start in high plank with your palms flat on the floor, hands shoulder-width apart, shoulders stacked directly above your wrists, legs extended behind you, and your core and glutes engaged. Place your feet hip-width apart.
  • Lower your left arm down so that your forearm is on the floor. Then, do the same with your right. You should now be in forearm plank position.
  • Place your left hand back on the floor to extend your arm, and follow with your right arm, so that you end back in high plank. That's 1 rep.
  • As you move, keep your hips as still as possible so that they're not swaying from side to side. To make this easier, try widening your legs a little more.
  • Continue for 30 seconds.
Plank up down 1.png
plank up down 2.png

Plank to Downward Dog Tap

  • Start in a high plank with your wrists under your shoulders and your feet hip-width apart.
  • Push your hips up and back to move into a Downward Dog with your heels reaching toward the floor. At the same time, lift your right hand off the floor and gently tap your left ankle (if possible).
  • Return your right hand to the floor and shift your weight forward to come back into high plank.
  • Now, shift back into Downward Dog but this time tap your left hand to your right ankle. Return to high plank.
  • Continue, alternating sides, for 30 seconds.
plank down dog tap 1.pngplank down dog tap 2.png

Plank Jack

  • Start in a high plank with your palms flat on the floor, hands shoulder-width apart, shoulders stacked directly above your wrists, legs extended behind you, and your core and glutes engaged.
  • Jump your feet out and in (like jumping jacks). Try not to let your butt and hips bounce up and down as you jump your feet in and out.
  • Continue for 30 seconds.
plank jack 1.pngplank jack 2.png

Forearm Plank Rock

  • Start in a forearm plank with your forearms on the floor, elbows directly underneath your shoulders, hands facing forward so that your arms are parallel, and legs extended behind you. Tuck your tailbone and engage your core, butt, and quads.
  • Rock your entire body forward a couple inches so your shoulders go past your elbows toward your hands.
  • Rock back a couple inches. That's 1 rep.
  • Make sure to keep your core, butt, and quads engaged the entire time.
  • Continue for 30 seconds.
plank rock 1.png

Forearm Side Plank Twist

  • Start in a forearm side plank by propping your body up on your left forearm, with your elbow stacked underneath your shoulder and your hand in front of your body. Extend your legs and stack your right foot on top of your left, and then squeeze your abs and glutes to lift your hips off the floor.
  • Place your right arm behind your head, with your elbow bent and pointing up toward the ceiling. This is the starting position.
  • Rotate your torso toward the floor, bringing your right elbow to meet your left hand. Don't let your hips drop—the movement should just come from your core.
  • Then, reverse the movement to return to the starting position.
  • Continue for 30 seconds.
side plank twist 1.pngside plank twist 2.png

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This post originally appeared on SELF and was published August 3, 2019. This article is republished here with permission.

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