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  • Bill Wynne

Swap planks for these 5 effective core exercises

When it comes to core workouts, there’s a pretty good chance your workout involves planks. However, if you’re anything like us you’ve done them a million times and you’re quite frankly getting a bit bored of them.

So what are some great exercises to do instead? Read on and we’ll introduce you to 5 effective core exercises you can swap planks out for👇

Swap planks for these 5 effective core exercises

4 signs you should swap out an exercise

To see effective results in your fitness journey, we need to continuously progress and advance our workouts as we get stronger and fitter. This will keep our body challenged and stimulate our muscles to grow stronger. That’s why it’s important to swap out exercises or advance them from time to time.

So, what are should you swap out an exercise? Here are a few indications:

  • #1 You're not mentally engaged with your workouts and need stimulation. We get it, planks might not be the most thrilling exercise. There are tons of other ones you can do.

  • #2 You always do the same exercises. Different exercises challenge our muscles in different ways. That's why it's good to incorporate a variety and alternate between them.

  • #3 You no longer feel challenged by the exercise. Your body will get stronger over time and the same exercises might no longer challenge you. To avoid hitting a plateau you can either add weights to it, or swap it out for a more advanced exercise.

  • #4 You’re recovering from injury. This goes without saying, but when you're recovering from injury, certain exercises might not be appropriate for your recovery. Go with easier exercises and lighter weights until recovered.

📱 Did you know? you can easily swap out your least favourite exercises in the trainn app. Simply swipe left on an exercise and remove it.

5 effective exercises to swap planks for

These 5 exercises are perfect for:

  • If planks are too challenging for you

  • If you want a more challenging version

  • If you want to also target your obliques

  • If you want to add weight to your core exercises

  • If you want to progress into doing pushups

Swap planks for these 5 effective core exercises

#1 Dead bugs

Perfect if: planks are too challenging for you

Okay, the name’s a bit weird, right? 🪲 But the dead bug is a fantastic option for easing into planks if you find them tough, whilst really working your deepest core muscles. Strengthening your core with these will help ease you into planks.

How to do dead bugs

  1. Lie on your back on an exercise mat. Stretch your legs out flat and straight, with your arms stretched out straight behind your head.

  2. Raise one arm and the opposite leg up, arm straight and leg bent at the knee.

  3. Lower them, then repeat step #2 with the alternate arm and leg.

Swap planks for these 5 effective core exercises

#2 Side plank dips

Perfect if: you want a more challenging version

Sometimes you just need to spice things up. Regular planks are too boring and you can hold if for longer than you want to. If that's you, then this side plank variation is perfect for you! If targets your inner core and obliques while also challenging your balance.

How to do side plank dips

  1. Lie on your left side and extend your legs out.

  2. Pushing yourself up on your left hand, make sure you keep your left arm aligned straight beneath your shoulder, while your head should be aligned with your spine.

  3. Now raise your hips and legs to make the plank, your body supported by your left arm and left foot.

  4. Hold, while dipping your hips down to the ground and back up again.

Swap planks for these 5 effective core exercises

#3 Bicycle crunches

Perfect if: you want to also target your obliques

We always hear about our abs when it comes to core training, but the bicycle crunches are amazing for also targeting your obliques. They’re the muscles at the side of your stomach which help you rotate your upper body.

How to do bicycle crunches

  1. Lie down on your back. Bend your knees and plant your feet on the floor, hip-width apart. Place your arms behind your head, pointing your elbows outward.

  2. Brace your abs. Lift your knees to 90 degrees and raise your upper body. This is your starting position.

  3. Exhale and rotate your trunk, moving your right elbow and left knee toward each other. Simultaneously straighten your right leg. Pause for a second.

  4. Exhale. Move your left elbow to your right knee and extend your left leg. Pause again and keep repeating these movements.

  5. Remember to keep your lower back pressed into the ground the whole time.

Swap planks for these 5 effective core exercises

#4 Renegade row

Perfect if: you want to add weight to your core exercises

Introducing equipment such as weights, is a great way to add progressive overload to your workouts. It's a way to make sure you continuously push yourself by slowly making your workout harder. Renegade rows are a great example of how to advance planks. There's more balance required to make sure you don't sway from one side to another. Plus, they also work your arms, shoulders and back. All-round a perfect exercise

How to do Renegade row

  1. Choose a dumbbell suitable for you, keep it in one hand.

  2. Now get yourself into position while still holding the dumbbell. Hands should be directly below raised shoulders, and your arms straight. Your legs and back should be raised straight and aligned with each other.

  3. Raise your dumbbell up to your chest, holding the plank position supported by the other hand.

  4. Repeat with the dumbbell in your other hand.

Pro tip: to make the renegade row even more challenging, hold a dumbbell in each hand, alternating which one you raise.

Swap planks for these 5 effective core exercises

#5 Commando planks

Perfect if: you want to progress into doing pushups

This core exercise takes the plank and introduces a range of motion to improve mobility more than the static normal version. There’s plenty of reasons mobility should be part of your workout, which you can learn about here. All you’ll need to master the body-saw is a pair of workout sliders and a smooth surface for them.

How to do commando planks

  1. Start off in a standard plank position, forearms shoulder-width apart on your mat, and balls of your feet hip-width apart respectively.

  2. Engage your core. Keep your head neutral (pretend you’re holding an orange between your chin and the top of your chest) and squeeze your butt.

  3. Push up onto your right hand, until that arm is straight, followed by the left arm to come into a high plank position.

  4. Lower back down to your starting position on your right arm, followed by your left. Keep your spine neutral and your core tight to prevent from rocking from side to side throughout.

Swap planks for these 5 effective core exercises

Push your workouts further with trainn

Wherever you are on your fitness journey, all workouts need to evolve and adapt if they’re going to deliver results. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of repeating the same circuits over and over again and find yourself losing interest.

The trainn app is perfect for creating workouts that push you at whatever level you’re at, and keeping them engaging and effective. Your in-app Personal Trainer will develop a personalised training plan based on your goal and adapt it as you progress. With new goals and healthy habits to motivate you each week, you’ll have everything at your fingertips to achieve results that last.


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