How To Do The Body Saw Exercise And Upgrade Your Plank

Man in forearm plank position
The body saw exercise takes your plank in new directions. Two new directions, to be precise. Forwards and backwards. (Image credit: Getty Images / Luis Alvarez)

Mixing up your exercise routine is a must if you want to make the most of your workouts. That’s particularly true when doing core exercises, so that you make sure you’re engaging all the stabiliser muscles that are vital to functional fitness.

For example, there’s no doubt that the plank is one of the best bodyweight exercises you can do, but if you stick to the same version of it you are eventually going to get bored – you’re not moving, after all – and also find you have to hold your planks for longer and longer to challenge your muscles. 

This is where the body saw comes in. It’s a simple but brutally effective way to progress your plank, and all you need to do it is a set of exercise sliders, or a tea towel in a pinch.

Once you’ve mastered the form for the body saw plank, check out our guides to the side plank and walking plank, or have a crack at this 30-day plank challenge and work your way up to holding a plank for three long minutes.

Body Saw Exercise Benefits

The body saw increases the benefits of the standard plank by adding a small degree of movement which makes it harder to maintain the strict plank position. It’s great for your core strength and will shorten the amount of time you need to spend in the plank position to see benefits.

How To Do The Body Saw Exercise

Body saw exercise

(Image credit: Glen Burrows)

Adopt the plank position, with your bodyweight resting on your forearms and toes. Position said toes on exercise sliders or a tea towel. Or two tea towels, if you have either big feet or small tea towels. Brace your abs and glutes, then start moving your body back and forth with your elbows. You don’t have to move a lot, just a gentle sawing motion.

You’ll need a smooth surface, or the tea towel will get stuck and you’ll be left doing a regular plank while standing on a tea towel. Either keep going until you have to stop, or do the body saw in two to four sets of ten reps, with 20 seconds between them.

Nick Harris-Fry
Senior writer

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.