The Plank Workout That Helps You Get Faster

Perform these six challenging plank variations to increase your core strength and improve your running speed.

Whether you're a sprinter or a distance runner, a stronger core will improve your running performance and help you get faster. Planks are a great way to strengthen your core, because you can perform them without exercise equipment.

The following six plank variations are designed to improve your speed training work. They can be performed individually, but performing them as a superset will give you better results. As you get stronger, you will be ready to train harder and faster; and, as a bonus, you'll be better able to maintain your balance and posture, making you move more efficiently when you run. Ready to torch the competition?

Note: Perform a 5- to 10-minute warm-up before attempting this plank workout.  

RELATED: STACK Challenge: Timed Plank

1. Front Plank with Side Kicks

  • Assume the push-up position.
  • Make sure your back is straight and neutral. Do not slouch while performing this plank variation.
  • Use one leg to kick laterally to one side, alternating left and right.
  • If the pressure exerted by the ground into your hands is too much to handle, close your hands into fists for further support to reduce pain or inflammation.
  • Perform repetitions for 20 to 30 seconds.

2. Front Plank with Russian Twist

  • Assume the push-up position.
  • Unlike exercise 1 of this workout, this variation focuses primarily on your hands providing a base of support. If the pressure is too much on your hands, close them into fists.
  • Flex your elbows 90 degrees and keep your back straight to promote proper body alignment. Flex your knees when in a transverse angle to form an "X" in a continuous movement while you alternate between knees.
  • Complete repetitions for 20 to 30 seconds.

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3. Side Plank with Forward and Lateral Kicks

  • Assume the push-up position, albeit within a lateral stance.
  • Unlike exercise 2, this variation stresses opening your hips while activating your hip flexors and glutes.
  • Perform a forward kick.
  • Lift your leg and perform a lateral kick to open your glutes and hip flexors.
  • Keep your elbows flexed at 90 degrees with a neutral spine and alternate with the other leg.
  • Perform repetitions for 15 to 30 seconds.

4. Side Bridge

  • Assume the push-up position while shifting into a lateral stance.
  • Unlike exercise 3 of this workout, this variation focuses specifically on the rectus abdominus and oblique muscles, which are encapsulated with the "6-pack" muscles.
  • Place one hand on your head or hip, and externally lift your hips. This exercise places additional stress on your remaining arm to maintain balance and posture, so do not perform this plank variation carelessly.
  • Perform repetitions for 10 to 30 seconds.

5. Slow Mountain Climbers on a Chair

  • Exercises 3 and 4 are the most integral ones in this workout. With exercise 5, fatigue steadily becomes a factor.
  • Place your feet (wear shoes) on a sturdy chair, assume a full plank position and slowly flex your knees back and forth.
  • Maintain your balance and posture by keeping your back straight within a fixed and neutral position.
  • Perform repetitions for 10 to 60 seconds.

6. Long Lever Plank Mountain Climbers

  • When performing this exercise, you must move at faster pace to fire your hip flexors, glutes and your muscle fibers for speed gains.
  • Assume the push-up position.
  • This variation forces your core and spine to work together with your entire body to promote proper alignment and help you become faster.
  • Lie face down on the floor with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keep your elbows underneath you to assist your legs to remain properly aligned.
  • Perform repetitions for 10 to 60 seconds.

This workout can be a progression for the traditional Plank. Remember to breathe while performing the exercises. That may sound silly, but it's easy to tense up and forget about that essential function. Proper breathing will help you perform each move longer and with better form. If you experience discomfort with some of the moves, use an exercise mat or cushion. Experiment to find what feels best while still giving yourself a challenging workout.


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: CORE | PLANK | WORKOUTS | EXERCISE | TRAIN | POSTURE | STANCE | FASTER | STRESS | CLIMBERS | KICKS | SPINE