Fitness Tips

9 Efficient Cardio Planks To Work Your Core *and* Spike Your Heart Rate

Tehrene Firman

Photo: Stocksy/Guille Faingold
If you want to work your core and spike your heart rate at the same time, there's no better way to go about it than adding a few minutes of cardio planks to your workout routine.

Along with strengthening your core, arms, back, legs, shoulders, and chest (yeah, pretty much the works!), tweaking your planks with different levels, jumps, and crawls can instantly take the exercise to a new—and even sweatier—level. And while some cardio workouts require equipment, these exercises can be done anytime, anywhere, with nothing but your own bodyweight. Extra bonus: Despite being cardio, they're also pretty quiet—aka no complaints from your downstairs neighbors here. These are the best cardio planks to start with.

The best cardio planks for your workout routine

1. Plank jacks

Jumping jacks are a lot more fun when you're doing them horizontally in plank position.

How to do it:

  1. Start in a high plank position.
  2. While keeping your body stable, jump your feet out.
  3. Jump your feet back in.

2. Up and down planks

Aside from working your core and providing some cardio, up and down planks also strengthen your arm muscles.

How to do it:

  1. Start in a high plank.
  2. Keeping your body in a straight line from your head to your feet, lower down onto your forearms one arm at a time.
  3. Raise back up into a high plank one arm at a time.
  4. Alternate the arm you're leading with to ensure both arms get an equal workout.

3. Army crawl plank

If you thought the army crawl was hard, just wait until you do it in a plank position.

How to do it:

  1. Start in a forearm plank with a slider, paper plate, or small towel under each foot.
  2. Go into an army crawl, walking your elbows up and down your mat.
  3. Continue army crawling for one minute.

4. Mountain climbers

Mountain climbers are a cardio plank classic, working your core, glutes, arms, legs... pretty much every muscle in your body.

  1. Get into a high plank position.
  2. Keeping your back flat, take turns pulling each knee into your chest.
  3. Start slow, then pick up your speed to really spike your heart rate.

5. High plank knee tap

This exercise challenges your whole body, but really digs deep into your obliques.

How to do it:

  1. Start in a high plank.
  2. Bring your left knee to the outside of your left elbow, back to meet your right foot, then to the inside of your left elbow.
  3. Return to your high plank and repeat on the opposite side.

6. Pike-ups

These's a 100 percent chance that a single round of these pike-ups will leave you breathless.

How to do it:

  1. Start in a high plank.
  2. Pike up and reach your right hand to your left toe, then return to a high plank.
  3. Repeat on the opposite side.
  4. Continue alternating sides for 30 seconds.

7. Plank walk outs to push-up

Plank walk outs already require every muscle in your body—so when you add in the push-up, your arms will truly feel like Jell-O.

How to do it:

  1. Stand at the end of your mat.
  2. Walk your hands out to a high plank.
  3. Perform one push-up, return to high plank, then walk your hands back to standing.

8. Around the world extended plank

The around the world extended plank doesn't just challenge your muscles—it also challenges your mind.

How to do it:

  1. Start in a high plank.
  2. Extend your right arm forward on your mat, then your left arm.
  3. Then extend your left leg to the side of your mat, then your right leg.
  4. Bring everything back to start in this order: right leg, left leg, left arm, right arm.
  5. Repeat in the opposite direction.

9. High plank trunk rotations

This cardio plank isn't easy. You need both strength and balance in order to twist your body and extend your leg.

How to do it:

  1. Start in a high plank.
  2. Twist your body to one side, extending your bottom leg out underneath you.
  3. Tap your toes with your top arm.
  4. Return to your high plank and repeat on the opposite side.

Make sure you've perfected your plank form:

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