If you think you’ve planked the hell out of yourself, this plank workout uses a dumbbell to increase the intensity for each major muscle group.
Peacock Pilates London’s 8-move workout combines planks with upper and lower body exercises like squats, rows and side raises. You’ll hit your core muscles hard and work your arms, shoulders, back, chest, glutes, and legs.
If you currently suffer from shoulder injuries, axes and side axes may be off the table. Check with a qualified medical professional before starting a new exercise regimen and discontinue at any time if pain is felt.
To perform this plank exercise, you’ll need a light dumbbell. You can check out the video below for each exercise in more detail. Try to do each move 10-12 times on each side and, as advised by Peacock Pilates London, “focus on quality not quantity”.
Keep your core engaged as you move and stack your shoulders on your wrists during each plank. The dumbbell used in this workout is 1.25kg, but scale it down to fit your current fitness level and work through a full range of motion rather than lifting heavy loads. Here are some of the best ways to build muscle without lifting heavier weights if you need some inspiration.
Check out the Peacock Pilates London dumbbell plank workout
If you’re new to plank workouts, consider some of these plank variations first and make sure you’re comfortable with the movement patterns before attempting an entire session using them.
Planks can be hard on the shoulders, especially the stabilizer muscles like the rotator cuffs, a group of muscles that surround the shoulder joint that help support shoulder movement.
One way to scale is to lower your knees (or one knee during side planks) to the floor. You’ll also notice that the instructor places the top foot in front of the bottom for extra support. These are great fixes, but if you’re still in pain, move on to the next exercise. And if that’s still a problem, try our roundup of the best ab workouts to strengthen your core without exacerbating shoulder pain.
We love working out with some of the best adjustable dumbbells during plank workouts, allowing you to quickly mix up weight ranges rather than relying on multiple sets of free weights. You can also test your balance and stability using a kettlebell.
Breathe smoothly as you move and avoid restrictive breathing into your chest. Diaphragmatic breathing encourages expansive breathing, which instead involves breathing toward the stomach.
What we love about this workout is that it calls for slow, controlled movements from Pilates (renowned for working the core and smaller stabilizer muscles) and ramps up the intensity using a free weight and single-sided exercises.
We know from research that unilateral exercises help strengthen underused muscles and improve transverse balance and coordination. But combine that with the time-under-tension method — making your muscles work through one movement for longer — and you could build muscle strength and endurance, too.
Rather than performing explosive movements, each phase of the exercise is focused and efficient, often combining upper and lower body movements. For example, one combo includes bear squats and X plank – we’ve experimented with both, and they totally burn muscle.
Bear squats are known for working your quads and core muscles, but you’ll also notice a deep stretch in your ankles, knees, and hips. You’ll transition from the squat to the plank toe tap, bringing your butt up and stretching your shoulders and posterior chain, including your lower back, glutes, hamstrings, and calves.
Trust us, drop the heavy weights for this workout and focus on your form.