You won’t hear us say a bad word about either the plank or jumping jacks, both of which are among the best bodyweight exercises you can do. In fact, they’re such good exercises that it would be a truly horrible situation if you found yourself with enough time to do just one of them in a workout. Or at least it would be if some smart cookie hadn’t come up with the plank jack.
As the name suggests, the plank jack is a combination of the plank and the jumping jack, which is interesting given that the plank is a move famed and named for the lack of movement involved, whereas the jumping jack is very much the opposite.
Opposites attract, though, and in combination the two moves create one of the best core exercises. Try it in your workout today.
Benefits Of The Plank Jack
The plank is great for your core strength, while jumping jacks improve your cardio fitness, so it’s no surprise to learn that the plank jack does a bit of both. It’s a perfect core exercise to include in HIIT sessions as a result, because it will spike your heart rate more effectively than the classic static plank.
How To Do The Plank Jack
Adopt the standard plank position, holding your body up on your forearms and toes. From there it’s as simple as splaying your legs out to the side like in a jumping jack, then bring them back to the original position. Keep your core braced throughout for maximum effect.
Jump back and forth as many times as you can in a minute, take a 30-second break, and repeat. If you find jumping out with both legs too tough, then stepping out each foot in turn is a good way to make the plank jack easier.
You can mix up the plank jack a little by sliding your feet apart rather than jumping to spread them. This can be done with just socks or tea towels, but if you want to try it on carpet then a pair of sliders, which can be used for all kinds of other exercises too, might be worth picking up. A pair of reversible sliders – one side for hard floors, the other for carpet – costs less than £15 on Amazon.
Workouts Which Feature The Plank Jack
It’s one thing knowing how to do the plank jack. It’s another entirely to integrate it into a training session. Thankfully, the plank jack has popped up in – at the last count – 11 workouts on Coach. These, of course, comprise a couple that target the muscles in your midsection – there’s a lower-abs workout and a home abs workout – but the cardio and core combination make it a popular choice in high-intensity calorie burners such as this home cardio workout, our 20-minute HIIT workout and a workout to burn fat at home. And its equipment-free nature means it also features in this low-impact home workout.
Get the Coach Newsletter
Sign up for workout ideas, training advice, reviews of the latest gear and more.
Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.