“FOUR minutes in a plank? Girlfriend, no.” If that’s what you’re thinking, rest assured you do not have to hold a plank the entire four minutes (unless you want to). Keep reading…
I thought a challenge of sorts would be fun to do the first full week after Labor Day Weekend because this time of year always feels like a fall version of New Year’s. Motivation is at an all time high and it’s fun to have a plan and settle back into a routine. Every day for the next seven days, I have a (different) 4-minute plank tabata challenge for you. The structure will be the same each day but the exercises will change.
These quick challenges are perfect to tack onto the end of a gym workout; do before you head out for a run; add into your morning routine before heading off to work; or to do on their own on busy days. I know I post a lot of core workouts here but planks aren’t just about your midsection. Upper body is working and, if you keep the correct form, your legs and glutes should be engaged as well. After this week I’ll be sure to focus on low body, upper body and full-body routines to balance it out, but for now just indulge me as I spotlight my favorite exercise. 😉
4-Minute Plank Tabata Challenge: High Plank Exercises
A tabata interval structure is 20 seconds of work + 10 seconds of rest, 8 times. This tabata will be made up of four different plank exercises and you’ll go through them twice. During the 10 seconds of “rest” you can either rest OR hold a plank. Since we’re focusing on high plank variations (done on your hands), you could always hold the plank on your forearms to give the wrists little breathers.
As you’ll see in the video, I got through the first half of the challenge holding planks during the “rest” interval. During the second half I used them as a true rest.
Crossbody Taps | These are just slow crossbody mountain climbers. So it’s not about speed; the focus is on range of motion. Can you tap your elbow with the opposite knee? How close to making physical contact can you get? Start in a plank position with hands stacked under shoulders, abs held in tight (don’t let your low back arch down towards the floor). Pull your right knee across your body towards your left elbow, trying to make physical contact between the two if you can. Step the right foot back into your high plank and then repeat on the other side, left knee to right elbow.
Plank Jumps | Start in a plank position with hands aligned underneath shoulders. Jump both feet up towards your hands and then quickly back to a plank. Challenge the pace on these; you want to get your heart rate up.
Windshield Wiper (isolate one side) | Start in a plank position with wrists stacked under shoulders. From here, crunch your right knee into the right elbow, making physical contact with it if possible (if not just pull it in as close as you can). Holding the knee forward in this deep crunch, you’re going to swish it back and forth between the right elbow and the left elbow, trying to keep it as close to touching the arms as possible. As you fatigue, don’t let the knee drop to wrist-height–keep it around the elbows.
Isolate the right side the first 20 seconds and then the left side the second time you come to this exercise.
Mountain Climbers | These are like doing high knees in a plank position. Start in a plank, hands stacked underneath shoulders, core squeezing in tight (don’t let your low back sag or your butt stick up in the air). From this position, drive one knee at a time up towards your chest, like running horizontally. The pace on these should be quick.
If you’re a beginner, don’t brush off this workout–there are always ways to modify! You can complete it. Here are some options:
- Do the exercises in an INCLINE plank. Place your hands on a bench or other elevated surface. The higher your hands are in comparison to your feet, the easier the plank hold will be. All four of the exercises can be done with your hands on an elevated surface, so this is your best option.
- Drop your knees to tabletop. This variation will work for crossbody taps and windshield wipers. Have your hands under your shoulders and knees under your hips, moving from there. You might want a towel under your knees for padding. This modification will work for mountain climbers as well if you slow them down. For the plank jumps take the above modification instead (incline plank).
- Replace the jumps and mountain climbers with a static hold. If you’re just starting out on your fitness journey, focus on the basics before getting fancy. Forget about jumping and fast movements; just work on your plank hold! Hold in stillness, maybe even planking from your knees instead of feet to really nail the form.
Tomorrow’s tabata will focus on forearm plank variations, so if you passed on this one because of wrist issues, definitely try the next!
Were you able to skip any “rest” intervals and hold a plank between exercises? How many? My goal is to finish at least one of these tabatas without dropping out of the plank at all. If it was just a static hold, I could definitely make it the 4 minutes (I have Btone to thank for that haha), but with all the jumping and twisting…eeeek! We’ll see… 😉