The plank is one of the most popular core workouts in fitness today. Everyone from powerlifters to yoga teachers preach their benefits and how important they are to incorporate into your workout. But with many workouts featuring different versions of the hold, I thought it would be a good idea to look at the two most popular versions. Comparing the high plank vs elbow plank. Covering what they have in common and more importantly, what are the differences between the two.
- High plank and elbow plank both target core muscles, obliques, lower back, and glutes.
- They engage stabilizer muscles throughout the body.
- High plank emphasizes arms, shoulders, and legs more.
- Elbow plank focuses directly on the core and glute muscles.
- You can make elbow plank harder by elevating your feet.
- Incorporating both planks is recommended for a balanced workout.
- High plank may cause wrist and elbow discomfort.
- Choose based on your fitness goals: elbow plank for abs, high plank for shoulder strength and stability.
What’s the Difference Between a High Plank vs Elbow Plank
What the two holds have in common:
The primary muscles target by both high planks and elbow planks are:
- Lower Back
Both exercises primarily focus on the core while also targeting stabilizer muscles throughout the body. Heavily targeting your abdominals, obliques, lower back, and glutes to hold the position. One of the ways you can tell if you’re doing the movement correctly is if your glutes are fully engaged.
Secondly, both of these static holds work a variety of stabilizer muscles throughout the body. The two movements will both recruit your shoulders, upper back, and the front side of your legs. Just how much emphasis is placed on these stabilizing muscles is one of the biggest differences between the two holds.
Why they are different:
- The high plank increases your body’s angle to the ground. Placing more emphasis on your arms, shoulders, and legs to support and stabilize the added weight.
- Elbow planks, based on the lower body’s angle to the ground, will place more emphasis directly on your core and glute muscles to hold the position.
- To make the elbow plank even harder on the core, you can elevate your feet slightly, creating an angle more aligned flat with the floor.
- Because of the difference, myself and many trainers recommend to incorporate both versions of the plank into your workout routine.
- The high plank places more pressure on the wrists and elbows.
- Wrist pain is one of the most common reasons for scaling to the elbow plank. And is perfectly fine!
In the high plank vs. elbow plank debate, it’s essential to recognize that both exercises offer unique benefits and target different areas of the body. While both engage core muscles and stabilizers, the high plank emphasizes arms, shoulders, and legs, making it ideal for enhancing shoulder strength and stability. On the other hand, the elbow plank places direct emphasis on the core and glutes, making it a top choice for those aiming to strengthen their abs.
To create a well-rounded fitness routine, it’s advisable to incorporate both plank variations. However, it’s important to listen to your body; if wrist or elbow discomfort arises during the high plank, transitioning to the elbow plank is a perfectly valid and sensible choice. Ultimately, the choice between these planks should align with your specific fitness goals, ensuring a balanced and effective workout regimen.