Planking Exercises for Stability and Bone-Strength

Exercise / July 6, 2016

Author: Monica Lam-Feist, BS

Monica is the Content Manager at AlgaeCal. She's also an ACE Certified Personal Trainer and has a B.S. and B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she played varsity soccer for four years. She's matcha-obsessed and enjoys the occasional barre and yoga class to mix up her workout routines. She loves to write and pulls from her experience in athletics and health to contribute to AlgaeCal.  

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

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