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 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!
Closing Thoughts – The high plank vs elbow plank
When looking at these two versions of the plank, a lot of people tend to view the high plank as a progression to the elbow plank. The truth is that each movement places a different emphasis and a different area of the body. If you are looking to target your abs, traditional elbow planks are going to be the better of the two. With the angle placing more tension on the core. But if you want to work shoulder strength and stability, then working in the high plank is a great variation to throw in.