5-Minute Daily Plank Workout

reverse plank programming

Photo: Ben Goldstein / Model: Ana Alarcon

Do you want to improve core strength, but feel short on time and unsure of the best exercises to get the job done? It's a common problem and one of the main reasons many people throw in the towel without even trying. 

Now, well-designed micro-exercise routines are gaining popularity for effectiveness and meeting the needs of busy lifestyles. Research indicates short bouts of exercise can add up to big results.

Why Your Core Is Key

Core workouts are important for building strength and stability. They provide the foundation for more advanced exercises you may want to add to your program later. Without a solid core routine, weakness and negative changes in body configuration can occur according to research.

That being said, performing a consistent and effective core routine is vital for your health and fitness. Core muscles include the deep and shallow muscles of the trunk and help to:

  • Stabilize the spinal column
  • Align the body
  • Enhance body movement
  • Improve balance
  • Abdominal muscle definition
  • Improve functional fitness

When the core muscles are not exercised on a regular basis, they can become weak, increasing the risk of:

  • Negative changes in body configuration
  • Compressed posterior joints of the lumbar spine
  • Low back pain or discomfort
  • Excessive anterior/posterior leaning of the pelvis
  • Muscle tension

Core exercises maximize muscle strength and stability. Having a strong core helps prevent injuries to the knees, hip joints, and lumbar spine.

Core muscle stability is also said to relieve back pain because you are able to maintain proper posture.

The Benefits of Planks

Developing a strong core will provide a better workout experience. It will round out your fitness program and help you maintain good form throughout each movement. You probably know of several other exercises that work the core, including crunches and bridges.

But one of the best ways to strengthen the core is with the plank. According to one study, the greatest core muscle activity occurred in the plank exercise. Core muscles were shown to be strengthened effectively and the muscle activity was directly correlated with the posture of the exercise and the location of the muscle.

That's why we put together this 5-Minute Daily Plank Workout—a quick, well-designed program that includes a variety of plank holds. The following exercises will effectively strengthen your core in just minutes per day. Here's how to get started.

5-Minute Daily Plank Workout

Perform a quick warmup of a one minute walk/jog in place and a light stretch. Now you're ready to go! To reach a full 5 minutes, perform each plank exercise below two times through.

Straight Arm Plank

straight arm plank pose
Photo: Ben Goldstein / Model: Ana Alarcon

Start in a push-up position on the floor with your arms slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Your hands will be directly under the shoulders maintaining straight arms, with toes tucked. Keep your core tight and body straight from head to toes and avoid sagging at the hips or dipping your head.

Breathe through this exercise for 30 seconds.

Modification

Perform the plank from your knees instead of toes. You can also hold the exercise for a shorter amount of time.

reverse plank
Photo: Ben Goldstein / Model: Ana Alarcon

Sit on an exercise mat with legs extended in front of you. Place your palms, fingers spread wide, on the floor slightly behind and outside your hips. Press into your palms and lift your hips and torso toward the ceiling.

Look up to the ceiling, point your toes, and keep your arms and legs straight. Keep entire body strong to form a straight line from your head to your heels. Tighten your core and try to pull your belly button back toward your spine.

Hold this position for 30 seconds.

Modification

Perform this exercise resting on your forearms with elbows at 90-degree angles.

Forearm Side Plank

forearm side plank
Photo: Ben Goldstein / Model: Ana Alarcon 

Lie on your right side on an exercise mat with legs extended (right leg will be placed directly on left leg, feet stacked). Place your right elbow directly under your shoulder resting on the forearm.

Keep head and spine neutral. Your right hip and knee will remain in contact with the floor. Engage the core and lift your hips and knees off the floor.

Hold this plank for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side to complete the set. 

Modification

Perform the side plank exercise with slightly bent legs and don't allow your knees to lift from the floor.

Pyramid Plank

pyramid plank
Photo: Ben Goldstein / Model: Ana Alarcon  

Start in the plank position, with your forearms on an exercise mat. Maintain a tight core and begin pressing your hips toward the ceiling, remaining on forearms, and gently pressing heels toward the floor (think upside down "V" shape).

Hold the position briefly, lower hips returning to plank position, and push up onto hands. Move your body into a downward dog yoga position (hips raised again toward the ceiling) while maintaining a tight core and straight back.

Stretch your heels and chest toward the floor simultaneously. Slowly return to the plank position on forearms.

Repeat exercise for 30 seconds.

Modification

You can also perform this exercise from the knees.

A Word From Verywell

Building a strong core is essential for muscle strength and stability. Core exercises are shown to help reduce the risk of injury, relieve low back pain, and promote proper posture. And the plank exercise is an especially effective way to stimulate those core muscles and achieve maximum results.

The good news is you can strengthen your core in just five minutes per day. Quick exercise programs are scientifically proven as effective and can accommodate busy lifestyles. They are a great way to get in that much-needed workout.

You should consult your physician or other health care professional before starting this or any other exercise program to determine if it is right for you.

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