Fitness Tips

Plank Jacks Give You a Daily Dose of Cardio and Core Strength at the Same Time

Zoe Weiner

A little known fact about planks: In addition to working nearly every muscle in your body (core, glutes, shoulders... the list goes on and on), they also serve up a pretty hefty dose of cardio. According to Satjit Bhusri, MD, a cardiologist and founder of Upper East Side Cardiology, holding your bodyweight—the way a standard plank requires you to do—shifts your blood flow to the muscles that need energy, which in turn, strengthens your heart. Not bad, right? But if you want to ramp up your heart-health factor of planks even further, plank jacks are one of the best ways to do it.

This particular cardio-core move has become a mainstay in a wide range of modalities, from HIIT to boxing to Pilates. It involves holding a plank while jumping your legs in and out, mimicking the motion of a jumping jack. And after only a few seconds, you're almost guaranteed to be breathless.

Although the move is effective, it's got a lot going on—which means that if you aren't totally familiar with proper form, it can be easy to mess up. In the latest episode of The Right Way, Simone de La Rue, Pilates pro and founder of Body By Simone, demonstrates how to do a plank jack the right way so that you can reap all of its strengthening and cardio-boosting benefits.

She calls the exercise one of her "favorite go-tos," but notes that there are a few common mistakes she sees people making that prevent them from getting the most out of the move. "Often I will see hunched-over shoulders, too-high hips, or people jumping too loud and forcefully," she says. To find out how to do it right, check out the video above, and get ready to declare this one of your new favorite go-tos, as well.

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