Sick Of Planking? This Fun Low Back Friendly Alternative Fires Up Your Entire Core

May 14, 2019

The plank is one of the best known and most common core moves—for good reason! It works both the front and back of the core and provides endless ways to progress and introduce variation. Plank isn’t for everyone though; it can often aggravate lower back pain for individuals who have it. As a personal trainer, I often work with clients who experience low back pain and have found a simple plank alternative that does not exacerbate pain for my clients. This exercise is low-back-safe and strengthens the core muscles in the same way that a traditional plank does. This modified plank also lends to variation; you’ll find four different options in this article, but feel free to play around with this movement and make it your own!

Modified plank

Modified plank

You’ll begin by finding a neutral tabletop, making sure that your wrists are underneath your shoulders and knees are underneath your hips. Tuck your toes underneath you and lift your knees so you’re balancing on your hands and the balls of your feet. This is a modified plank – challenge yourself to hold for 30-60 seconds!

Knee lifts

Modified plank knee lifts.

Modified plank.

In this simple variation you’ll alternate between lifting your knees and placing them on the ground or mat. Excel and contract your core as you lift your knees and inhale as you place them back down. This movement is deceptively simple but will really fire up the core!


Modified plank step-outs

Plank step-outs



Crawl core-strengthening exercise.

Yep, babies engage in a ton of core strengthening every day! Crawling allows babies to build up the core strength to stand up and walk, and you can still harness this awesome movement pattern. Bring yourself back to your roots—this was the very first workout you ever did. You’ll start from the same modified plank here, and move your arms and legs forward one at a time. You can either crawl forward for a certain distance or move yourself forward and back.

You can sub these movements in wherever you would normally do plank, or you can form a circuit by doing each exercise for 30-60 seconds for 1-4 sets. Whether you experience low back pain or are simply looking to add more variation into your core training, I hope you love this plank alternative!

Happy training!

Also by Maille: This Fun BOSU Workout Will Activate Your Core & Balance

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Photo: Maille O’Donnell

Maille is the founder of Green and Growing, a conscious lifestyle blog focusing on vegan tips and recipes. She is also a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor, avid yogi, and Environmental Science and Policy student at the University of Maryland. Connect with Maille via Instagram @greenandgrowingblog and her website.


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