How to Do the Plank Jack for Killer Abs and Better Conditioning

No train can do all of it: Planks are a tried-and-true core-builder, however they don’t burn many calories. The leaping jack — a gym-class basic — will get your coronary heart fee up and your blood pumping, but it surely doesn’t accomplish way more than that.

What if you happen to may mix these two fundamental body weight actions and get one thing higher than the sum of its elements? The plank jack is the answer. This straightforward drill will show you how to increase your muscular endurance, enhance your cardiovascular capability, and strengthen your abs concurrently.

A person in the plank position.
Credit score: Siam Inventory / Shutterstock

Right here’s learn how to do a picture-perfect set of plank jacks, plus some beneficial variations and coaching suggestions that can assist you degree up your subsequent exercise. 

Tips on how to Do the Plank Jack

So far as bodyweight exercises go, the plank jack is fairly easy; it’s a free mix of two workouts that you simply’re in all probability already not less than considerably aware of — the plank and the leaping jack. 

To carry out plank jacks, all you’ll want is a few open flooring area. Take into account grabbing a great yoga mat to cushion your arms or toes. 

Step 1 — Assume a Plank Place

A person in the standard plank position.
Credit score: G-Inventory Studio / Shutterstock

Step one is to anchor your physique for fulfillment. Get right into a push-up place along with your palms flat on the bottom and roughly shoulder-width aside. Your arms must be absolutely prolonged, as ought to your legs, and your toes must be collectively. It’s best to have a straight line operating out of your neck all alongside your backbone, and proper all the way down to your ankles.

Coach’s Tip: You can too arrange along with your elbows on the bottom if you happen to select. 

Step 2 — Brace Your self

Bracing in the plank position.
Credit score: Andrew Rafalsky / Shutterstock

Earlier than transferring, you need to brace your physique by actively contracting your abdominals and glutes to lock your backbone right into a inflexible place. Tense the muscle tissue in your physique from head to toe. 

Coach’s Tip: Studying learn how to brace your self within the beginning place will carry over to different workouts, such because the push-up

Step 3 — Carry and Unfold

A person with the feet apart in the plank position during a plank jack.
Credit score: nazarovsergey / Shutterstock

Use your glutes to propel your toes off the bottom and drive your toes outward in order that they land barely wider than shoulder-width aside.

Coach’s Tip: You don’t must carry your toes too far off the bottom while you go to maneuver your legs. Take into consideration sliding your toes out, not lifting them, and planting them once more.

Step 4 — Deliver It In

A person in the plank position with their feet together.
Credit score: YAKOBCHUK VIACHESLAV / Shutterstock

Drive out of your hips to launch your toes off the bottom as soon as once more and transfer your toes inward to return them to their authentic place.

Coach’s Tip: This motion might be way more sustainable if you happen to can be taught to return your toes to their place to begin with out smacking them collectively.

Plank Jack Units and Reps

It’s essential to do not forget that fundamental planks are sometimes executed both as a warm-up or as a finisher after you’ve accomplished the majority of your exercise. It’s additionally vital to notice {that a} fundamental plank will be fairly difficult to carry even when your physique is completely immobile, so constructing towards longer units of plank jacks might take a while. 

  • Throughout Your First Session: Maintain it easy with two rounds of 20 seconds of motion. 
  • To Improve Muscle Endurance: Carry out 5 units of plank jacks in intervals of 90 seconds to 2 minutes, adopted by 60 seconds of relaxation.

Frequent Plank Jack Errors

The plank jack would possibly appear like a fool-proof motion, however therein lies the rub: The one silly transfer can be to suppose that you simply couldn’t screw up a easy maneuver just like the plank jack if you happen to fail to stay centered on each your kind and aims.

Elevating Your Butt Into the Air

As with all lateral planking actions that necessitate core engagement — together with push-ups — lifting your bottom out of alignment with the remainder of your physique is a surefire method to remove a lot of the desired stress on the core muscle tissue. 

Through the plank jack, maintain your torso locked in a single place and deal with shifting your legs side-to-side slightly than lifting and dropping your bottom. 

Dipping Your Pelvis to the Ground

In precept and apply, permitting your pelvis to sink towards the ground ends in nearly precisely the identical final result as permitting your butt to rise – you remove the majority of the specified muscle stabilization from the equation. 

A person doing the plank with their pelvis hanging low.
Credit score: Comaniciu Dan / Shutterstock

[Read More: Everything You Need to Know to Build Your Workout Program]

In case you can’t maintain your pelvis aligned along with your torso, you’ll in all probability discover it troublesome to swiftly carry and shuffle your legs out throughout the plank jack. 

Whereas not as a lot of a sin as both of the primary two errors, propelling your self method up into the air is prone to signify that you simply’re initiating your launch from too sunken, free, or slouched of a place, which is suboptimal in case your aim is to strengthen your core. 

That’s unhealthy sufficient, however popping your self excessive into the air additionally reduces the quantity time your physique experiences stress throughout the motion. In brief, what you’re doing might appear and feel spectacular, but it surely’s defeating the overarching function of the plank jack in a number of methods.

Plank Jack Variations

Whether or not you’re seeking to make issues less complicated, tougher, or much less boring throughout ab training, these easy modifications to the essential plank jack will add a unique dimension to your coaching protocol.

Single-Leg Aspect Step

If common plank jacks are a bit too difficult for you in the meanwhile, or when you have exhausted your self with plank jacks however nonetheless want to stay in movement, you may maintain the motion going by extending your toes out to the facet separately, tapping the bottom along with your toes, after which returning your toes to their central place to begin.

[Read More: What Is Unilateral Training And Does It Really Fix Imbalances?]

You can too consider this unilateral exercise as a precursor to the plank jack; one thing you are able to do to heat up earlier than you begin your first set of the train itself. Shifting one leg at a time will show you how to determine precisely how a lot distance you need to cowl throughout your reps. 

Plank Excessive Knee

If lateral leg motion is troublesome, uncomfortable, or just unenjoyable for you, you may go for plank excessive knees as an alternative of plank jacks. The final thought of the train is identical, however the execution is a bit totally different.

[Read More: The Best Foods For Energy Before, During, And After Your Workouts]

Plank excessive knees require you to tuck your thigh up below your torso and convey your kneecap involved along with your abdomen. This includes an energetic contraction of the stomach muscle tissue, slightly than the stability-focused isometric contraction you’d discover within the plank jack. 

Plank Jack Alternate options

Plank jacks are superior and efficient, however they’re simply one in all a number of strengthening, blood-pumping core exercises and will be executed from a plank place. Listed here are a number of options you may substitute for plank jacks while you’re craving some selection.


To ante up on the challenges offered by the plank jack, you may go for the devilishly-tiring burpee. This basic conditioning transfer combines a push-up with a vertical soar and can have you completely pouring sweat.

[Read More: Best Home Gyms for the Money]

One of the best a part of the burpee is that it stimulates the scale of athleticism which might be additionally examined within the plank jack. You might want to be agile sufficient to transition from a push-up to a leaping place and have the core power to maintain your kind tight the entire method via. 

Alligator Crawl

If you wish to mix the sensation of movement of a bear crawl with the core problem of a plank, the alligator plank stroll is perhaps an appropriate different for you. 

You’re in fixed ahead movement with little reduction on your midsection, and the stronger your core is, the extra complete floor you may cowl. Observe that you simply’ll want ample flooring area to maneuver round for this one.

Mountain Climbers

In case you enhance how far every leg strikes, bringing one knee as much as your chest in an alternating vogue, you’ll elevate your coronary heart fee whereas solely barely decreasing the sustained lateral stress of the train.

[Read More: The Right Way To Breathe to Make Planks More Effective]

The wonder is that mountain climbers can simply be alternated with plank jacks inside the identical set, so there’s no want to decide on one over the opposite completely.

Muscle groups Labored by the Plank Jack

Sure, the usual plank is an isometric exercise, and that is still true of your higher physique muscle tissue while you transition to plank jacks. Nonetheless, in addition they add a plyometric element into the combination, forcing your muscle tissue to exert themselves in a number of methods over a set.

Rectus Abdominis 

The biggest muscle group in your torso is your rectus abdominis; your “abs.” Identifiable to almost everybody because the six-pack muscle tissue, your rectus abdominis will contract to maintain your backbone locked into the specified place.

Transverse Abdominis

Lurking beneath your seen abs, the transverse abdominis will even help with stabilizing your higher physique and preserving it braced into place all through your plank jack units. This muscle is a deep lumbopelvic stabilizer you can’t actually see within the mirror, however nonetheless, it’s working exhausting any time you contract your core. 


Your three gluteal muscle tissue — the gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus — play a restricted however vital position throughout the plank jack. The glute max, a big and highly effective tissue, contracts to maintain your hips in an prolonged place and keep midline stability.

A person's glutes while squatting.
Credit score: Debra Anderson / Shutterstock

[Read More: Everything You Need to Know About How to Increase Strength]

Your glute medius is primarily a hip adductor; it contracts to tug your leg out to the facet on every repetition of plank jacks you carry out. 

Advantages of the Plank Jack

For such a fundamental motion, the plank jack confers a number of advantages to its customers throughout a wholesome vary of strength-and-conditioning-related classes.

Improved Anti-Rotary Power

Whereas the garden-variety plank assessments how lengthy you may maintain a locked-in posture, the plank jack assessments your means to stabilize or re-engage the stabilization of 1 half of your physique whereas the opposite stays in fixed movement.

[Read More: The Best Plyometric Exercises To Power-Up Your Training]

This makes for an acceptable methodology of core workout, since most of the muscle tissue in your midsection are “designed” to withstand errant or exterior forces whereas your limbs transfer in area. 

Calorie Burning 

The fixed back-and-forth movement of your toes makes the plank jack a two-for-one: You strengthen your core and hips, positive. However the motion of your legs additionally provides as much as quite a lot of bodily exercise in a short while, resulting in heaps of energy burned over a number of units. 

Who Ought to Do the Plank Jack

The plank jack has one thing to supply everybody. In case you’re a velocity athlete who will depend on coordinated motion, or an on a regular basis gymgoer attempting to get rather a lot accomplished shortly, the plank jack ought to be capable of work its method into your common rotation of workouts. 

Velocity Athletes

Physique positioning is important to your efficiency if you happen to’re an athlete whose efficiency is measured by velocity — like a swimmer, runner, skier, or rower. The extent to which your core muscle tissue wrestle to maintain optimal body alignment as lactic acid fills your bloodstream is an underrated consider your output. Nonetheless, it could actually make all of the distinction on this planet on the tail finish of your races. 

Plank jacks allow you to tax your cardio system and interact your stabilizer muscle tissue within the exact method that they are going to be challenged to work collectively while you race with delight and placement on the road.

Bodily Athletes

Whereas velocity may additionally be a welcome ally in sports activities like water polo, soccer, lacrosse, subject hockey, and even basketball, you need to additionally have the opportunity to withstand exterior forces. These forces typically come within the type of different gamers attempting to field you out, knock you down, or maintain you again someway.

Physical athletes planking in the gym.
Credit score: – Yuri A / Shutterstock

[Read More: The Best Plank Variations To Strengthen Your Core]

Plank jacks practice your core to stay locked in and immovable whereas your legs maintain pumping. As a high-speed conditioning device, they’ll additionally educate you to maintain a degree head and regulate your inhaling a fatigued state — invaluable abilities to have on the sector. 

If You’re Quick on Time

Not everybody can neatly silo their train routines into neat little bubbles labeled “chest,” “core,” “cardio,” and so forth. In case you’re strapped for time and must make every second depend, plank jacks will allow you to hit two birds with one stone. 

Plank jacks let you elevate your coronary heart fee whereas strengthening your midsection — at a minimal, this may forestall you from leaving the fitness center feeling such as you failed to maximise your time. 

Jack Up Your Planks

Some workouts promote themselves. In case you’re already an athlete, the plank jack could make you a greater one. In case you’re short on training time, the plank jack will allow you to maximise your treasured seconds with out leaving you feeling such as you’ve aimlessly disposed of your exercise.

Irrespective of your “why”, there’s a great likelihood that the plank jack can — and will — discover a residence in your coaching repertoire. Whether or not you’re in search of a killer ab-day finisher or are bored to tears of the treadmill and wish to heat up in a brand new method, the plank jack is for you. 


Are you continue to scratching your head over the plank jack? No worries. Listed here are a number of widespread questions answered. 

Ought to I strive plank jacks if I’ve problem with common planks?

It is a case the place holding a plank is a transparent prerequisite to inserting plank jacks into your coaching routine; you wouldn’t need somebody who couldn’t do a pull-up to substitute weighted pull-ups within the hopes that it could make a fundamental pull-up simpler.

Growing a minimal degree of sustainable core power via any variety of less-intensive workouts – together with commonplace planks – is advisable earlier than advancing to plank jacks.

Can I substitute plank jacks for different cardiovascular coaching strategies?

It’s best to contemplate your entire health and efficiency targets when figuring out what type of cardiovascular coaching is finest for you. Nonetheless, plank jacks are finest considered inside the context of inserting some semblance of cardiovascular coaching right into a resistance coaching session when time is brief, or coaching your stabilizer muscle tissue to keep up your physique posture even during times of intense fatigue. Actually, they’re no substitute for a multi-hour operating session in case your final goal is to finish a marathon.

If I can do plank jacks ought to I cease doing common planks?

By no means! They’re totally different workouts, in any case. The leg movement concerned within the plank jack will, to a level, detract out of your means to brace your core. In case you’re solely involved with growing isometric stomach power, planks will do you simply high-quality.

Featured Picture: Siam Inventory / Shutterstock

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