plank-jacks
October 5, 2021

Plank Jacks: What They Are and How to Perform Them

Plank Jacks are combining two of the most popular exercises, jumping jacks with planks, will work your entire body from head to foot. The movement is both a cardio and core exercise. You must stabilize your trunk while you move the feet in and out. Jumping increases your heart rate and challenges your core. However, your upper body must also be challenged to keep you in a stable position.

Plank jacks can be included in many workouts and are easy to do anywhere. Find out what experts have to say about this exercise.

MEET THE EXPERT

  • Mindy Lai works as a bande fitness instructor.
  • Mindbody’s Dani Schenone, a registered yoga teacher and holistic wellbeing specialist, is Dani Schenone.

What Are the Benefits of Plank Jacks?

Planks jacks offer many health and fitness benefits, as well as postural benefits.

  • Cardio: Plank jacks are great for cardiovascular health and fat loss. Your heart rate will rise steadily throughout the exercise. Mindy Lai, a bande instructor, explains that planks are a fully engaged position. Adding jacks between the plank positions will increase your heart rate and give your muscles a greater challenge.
  • Strength Building: This exercise targets multiple areas to increase strength. Dani Schenone, yoga teacher, says that they strengthen multiple muscles simultaneously.
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  • Core Engagement: Plank jacks are a core exercise that requires all of your core muscles to activate, including the rectus abdominis and transverse abdominis.
  • Spinal Alignment: This movement helps you maintain a neutral spine, and to control your position. It promotes optimal postural alignment.

How to Perform a Plank Jack

Here are some tips and tricks from our trainers to help you do your plank jacks correctly.

MINDY LAI / DESIGN TIANA CRISPINO

  • Begin in a plank position with your shoulders above your wrists. Keep your feet hip-width apart. Maintain a straight line between your shoulders and your feet. Your neck should be extended.
  • Engage your core and keep it engaged! As if doing a jumping jump jack, extend your legs laterally and bring them back to the starting position. When moving your legs, keep your hips at the same level.
  • Plank jacks can be done faster, but keep your shoulders engaged. Keep your elbows slightly bent so you don’t hyperextend. You can bend your knees throughout.
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  • Begin with 20-30 seconds, and then increase your time.

For perfect form, align your shoulders directly above the elbows, maintain a long neck and spine, align the hips with the shoulders and keep your torso stable.

Modifications

If you want to work your core more, plank jacks can also be modified for a lower impact. Or for a harder workout. Lai explains that you can reduce the intensity of plank jacks by simply moving your leg out, not jumping, and then moving the other side.

You can adjust the tempo to speed up or slow down the movement for core-centric focus.

Schenone suggests that you can also perform plank jacks on your forearms to protect your wrists and elbows. This will help to prolong your workout routine. Some people like to rest their elbows on the elbows in order to relieve pressure from the wrists and stabilize the shoulders.

DANI SCHENONE / DESIGN TIANA CRISPINO

How Many Plank Jacks Should You Aim For?

This is a great exercise to add to any type of workout. It is important to focus on your form first and not just speed. Three sets of 30-second plank jumps performed with good form are better than three sets with poor form, which can lead to injury.

Begin by learning the movements until you are comfortable with them. Then, add a few seconds to increase your rep count and reduce your rest time. Alternately, you can start with 10 counts (jumping in and counting as one), with the goal of increasing this number over time.

There is no one size fits all approach to exercise. Be specific about your exercise goals and limits.

Safety Considerations

Plank jacks should not be performed by anyone suffering from joint pain. This is because the exercise places weight directly on joints. Schenone advises that it is important to pay attention to your body while working out to identify any pain. This includes wrists, elbows and lower back. If any of these areas are causing distress, modify or choose a gentler exercise. And remember that slow and steady progress is the best.

You should maintain proper posture throughout the day and not collapsing your lower back. This can cause unwelcome pain. Also, keep your glutes from reaching the ceiling. You should maintain a straight, long line all the way down the spine.

Plank jacks can be a strenuous exercise. To avoid dizziness and blood pressure drops, make sure you breathe slowly.

The Takeaway

Plank jacks can be used for cardio, strength and core exercises. They are suitable for all types of workouts. Combining planks and jumping jacks, this exercise will increase your heart rate and strengthen your core. It is especially good for the upper regions. You must be mindful of how you hold the exercise. Maintain a neutral spine, and a core engaged throughout. Anyone with joint pain in their shoulders or wrists, this exercise is not recommended. You can instead do plank jacks on the elbows, moving one leg at a time. This will provide the same benefits without the high impact.

To ensure that you exercise properly and do not experience joint pain, consult a licensed physical therapist or certified personal coach.