Planking Exercises for Stability and Bone-Strength

Exercise / July 6, 2016

planking exercises

This month we are focusing on planking exercises!

Planking is a form of bodyweight exercise.

We love weight bearing exercises because they are great for building and maintaining bone density, and are simple and effective! These exercises are also low-impact, which makes them more suitable for people suffering from osteoporosis.

By practicing the perfect plank, you will also be slowly improving your balance and posture. And the best part is, you can do these exercises in the comfort of your own home. Plus, you don’t need a bunch of equipment.

In the following exercises I use:

  • A yoga mat
  • A Bosu ball

3 Easy and Modifiable Planking Exercises for Bone Strength

These exercises should be pain-free. You shouldn’t feel any discomfort while you are exercising. If you do, come out of the exercise and adjust your technique accordingly. Let’s get started!

#1: The Forearm Plank

This is one of the most common variations of the plank.

  1. Place your forearms directly under your shoulders, a bit wider than shoulder-width apart.
  2. You can either clasp your hands together (which is what I’m doing here) or you can lay your palms down flat on the mat
  3. Tuck your toes into the floor and push up. Make sure your glutes and body are squeezed and stabilized. Do not lock your knees!
  4. Your head should be in line with your spine. You can either look down towards the ground or straight ahead.
  5. Hold for 10-20 seconds, then lower yourself slowly down.
  6. Repeat 3-5 times.

Challenge yourself:

One you’ve mastered the forearm plank, try the standard plank. This plank goes one step further by holding your entire body up with your hands (not your forearms)

forearm plank

#2: The Bent-Knee Side Plank

  1. Lie on the side of your mat.
  2. Place your right forearm under your shoulder on the mat, perpendicular to your body.
  3. Bend your right knee and place your left leg on top of the bottom leg (straight out).
  4. Straighten your hips.
  5. Engage and stabilize your core and lift your body upwards.
  6. Raise your left arm to the ceiling.
  7. Hold for 20-30 seconds, then lower yourself slowly down.
  8. Repeat 3-5 times.

Challenge yourself:

Once you’ve mastered the bent knee side plank, try the regular side plank. Instead of using the bottom leg for support, both legs will be straight when you lift your body.

side plank

#3: The Stir The Pot Plank

This exercise targets every muscle in your core, including other parts of your body such as your forearms and glutes.

Before you attempt this exercise, make sure you have mastered the forearm plank, the standard plank, the bent-knee side plank, and the side plank. Keep in mind that your form for stir the pot and other planks are the same. Remember to keep your core engaged and stabilized and for your back to be straight. Meaning no arching or hunching.

  1. Place your knees shoulder-width apart and kneel on the mat.
  2. Place a medium Bosu ball 1/2 foot in front of you.
  3. Reach out and place your forearms on the ball at a 90-degree angle.
  4. Make sure your core is stabilized and engaged and start ‘stirring’ by making circular movements with the ball.
  5. Do 10 circles clockwise, then switch and do 10 circles counter-clockwise.
  6. Break and repeat 3-5 times.

Challenge yourself: once your have mastered this exercise, plank your entire body with the Bosu ball (meaning your knees are no longer on the mat – raise your whole body). In addition, you can also make bigger circles.

'stir the pot' plank


3 Common Planking Mistakes & How to Fix Them

  1. Don’t forget to breathe! It’s common to hold your breath when you are  in a strenuous pose for an extended period of time. But don’t deny your body of oxygen. This can bring on dizziness or nausea. Remember to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
  2. Don’t collapse your lower back! Focus on engaging your core at all times. You put stress on your lower back when it collapses and ‘dips’. To combat this, engage your core by pulling your belly button towards your spine. This will keep protect you and keep your spine safe.
  3. Don’t reach your butt to the sky! Don’t dip your butt too low or high (it’s not meant to look like downward dog).  Aim for your back to be flat enough where you can feel your core being engaged from the very top to the bottom.

*If you suffer from low bone density or osteoporosis, it’s recommended to undergo a thorough medical examination. By doing so, you and your doctor will be able to determine which activities and osteoporosis exercises are safe for you.

Gina vslle
Gina vslle

Holding the blank position on the floor for 60 seconds x 3 sets. You will strengthen your back abs and obliques. If you place your hands up by your forehead you will be toning lower abs . Enjoy!


Great suggestions, Gina!

Thanks for adding to this workout 🙂

– Monica from AlgaeCal

Cindy Johnston
Cindy Johnston

Can you show a video of holding your hands up near your forehead? I can’t picture it.


Hi Cindy,

Each exercise shows the full motion – is there a specific one you are referring to?

– Monica from AlgaeCal


I have 2 bad shoulders. Are there any modifications that can be made to alleviate stress on those joints, yet still strengthen the core?

Monica AlgaeCal
Monica AlgaeCal

Hi Barbara,

Modified planks may still put some stress on your shoulders and joints. Instead, I’d try the following exercises that focus more on your abdominals specifically:

Dead bug
– Start by laying on your back with your arms extended above you and your knees bent in a 90-degree angle, thighs perpendicular to the floor.
– Then activate your abs and flatten your back to the floor
– Slowly lower the left arm and right leg down to the floor at the same time (make sure to keep your back on the ground still)
– If and when your back starts to arch, that’s your limit
– Bring yourself back to starting position and alternate
To protect your shoulders, if at any point you feel pain, come out of it. You can keep your arms in neutral and alternate lower either leg instead
Russian Twists
– Sit on a mat with your legs bent at the knees
– Lift your knees and rotate your upper body in a twisting motion
– Tap your hands down on the mat to the left and then to the right
If your shoulders feel ok, you can add a weight to your twist. For instance a 5lb dumbbell.
Flutter leg kicks
– Lie down on a mat with your arms by your side, palms down and legs extended
– Press your back into the mat and lift your legs 3-6 inches off the ground
– While keeping your legs straight, lift one slightly leg higher than the other and switch (like they’re fluttering)
You can also place your hands under your buttocks for support.

Let me know if these work for you and your shoulders, Barbara!
– Monica

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