Plank walk-ups – How to, 4 benefits, & mistakes to avoid

walking planks /plank walk-ups

Planks have always been one of the good ways to improve your workout routine, just like traditional planks this variation will surely make your workout intense. Some of you may know this plank variation as plank walk-ups or walking planks or alternating hand planks.

Walking planks or plank walk-ups are done to achieve the same goal as traditional planks they target your core muscles like abs, and obliques and strengthen them. Another reason to include plank walk-ups in your workout is that it will help you improve yourself in aspects like strength, endurance, and stability.

The movements involved in performing plank walk-ups like moving from high plank position to low plank position on the elbow and repeating this movement again & again will help you torch a good amount of calories if executed perfectly. When doing this simple movement you will understand how hard it is when compared to the traditional planks. So without any further ado let’s get into it…

How to do the Walking plank

  • Get into the traditional plank position with your spine straight, core engaged, and glutes squeezed with all your body weight falling on your elbow and forearms.
  • Now lift yourself by straightening your elbows, one arm at a time. If you’re lifting yourself from the left arm first you will lean to the right side and vice versa.
  • After straightening both of your arms you should be into a push-up position also known as a high plank position.
  • Now start lowering your elbow one at a time in a way that you get back into the traditional plank position.
  • Make sure to keep your spine straight, core engaged, and glutes squeezed throughout the process.
  • Keep your movements slow and steady to avoid any wrist pain or injuries.

It is important to keep your spine and hip in one line so when performing plank walk-ups/walking planks make sure you don’t lower your hips too much or when in a high plank position raise them too much. Try to keep a straight line from your neck to your toes.

In any compound movement, they are various targeted muscles, same is the case with this plank variation. The primary muscles that will be worked when performing walking planks are abs, obliques, chest, triceps, and shoulder. Quads, glutes, erector spine, and back muscles are some other muscles that are involved. As a beginner, this plank variation will help you improve for future lifts and movement but for advanced athletes/lifters, it may not reap that many benefits.

Mistakes to avoid

Avoiding these mistakes will help you perform walking planks with a top-notch form that will also help you reap all of its benefits.

  • Placing of elbows – The movement of going up and then down from high plank to low plank, while being in this movement we have to make sure to execute both of the planks perfectly just like when we do them one at a time. When doing this movement one of the most common mistakes is when you come down to low plank your elbows are positioned too far away from each other that in turn puts unnecessary pressure on your shoulder, so make sure to place your elbows directly under the shoulder.
  • Swaying your hips – Your entire body is moving when doing the walking plank, our hips will also move naturally but we have to make sure to keep them as still as possible. To make sure that your hips don’t move pull your hips back and down, squeeze your abs that will help you keep your hips in a neutral position.
  • Lack of control on movement – When going from high plank to low plank we might land a bit hard on our elbows and wrist doing that might make it easier but when you land softly and move with the control that will ensure you get the most out of the movement. A good way to ensure control of movement would be to keep your hips into a neutral position and core engaged.
  • Too high or too low – Make sure to keep your hips on the same level as that of your body when doing walking planks because when your hips are too high you won’t be able to engage your core and when your hips are too low you will put unnecessary pressure on your lower back. Keep your core engaged and make sure to keep your body in a straight line from neck to toe.

Benefits of walking planks

Doing traditional planks will challenge your core that goes without saying but when you do add movements like moving from high plank position to low plank position on the elbow, you will be able to target various muscles.

  • Balance – Body balance and coordination help us carry out our day-to-day tasks, so they can be considered as fitness skills to have them and to improve them should be our goal. This variation of planks lets us challenge these skills and improve them.
  • Weight loss – Doing normal planks for more than one minute is already challenging enough and adding movement to planks and performing them will exhaust you. The more energy you spend the more calories you will burn but if your goal is just to lose weight there are better compound exercise movements like squats, deadlift, etc.
  • Back pain – Some studies have been conducted that show when you do core strengthening exercises you also strengthen your lower back which can reduce and prevent lower back pain (1). If you’re suffering from any back injury or experiencing lower back pain before you do this exercise it is better to consult with your doctor.
  • Improves sleep & posture – Doing walking planks or any other exercise requires energy and it can exhaust you that in turn will improve the quality and duration of your sleep. When doing plank walk-ups you engage muscles like the back, shoulder and some of these are responsible for your posture, strengthening and improving them can in turn improve your posture.

Final words

If you do walking planks/plank walk-ups with the right form you won’t regret adding this exercise to your workout there are many other plank variations that will increase the intensity of your workout even more. Do not do this exercise if you’re experiencing any wrist, lower back, elbow pain. These are some other core exercises that will help you strengthen your core.