What is a plank jack?

The plank jack exercise combines two exercises that are pretty well-known for everyone – the traditional plank and the jumping jack.

Shortly put, performing plank jacks means getting on all fours in a plank position and hopping your feet in and out while trying to keep your spine and pelvis neutral and aligned without losing control in your core.

Which muscles are used when performing a plank jack?

Plank jacks activate the muscles whose job is to maintain the isometric hold of the plank, but they also activate other muscles that are used to generate the hopping motion in the hips and legs.

The body uses rectus abdominis, transversus abdominis, internal and external obliques when performing the plank jack. Those muscles are used to keep your body straight. Plank jacks also activate the biceps, triceps, forearms, front deltoids, and pecs to help you be elevated off the ground and retain a stable plank position.

Plank jacks also activate another group of muscles, which are the posterior chain muscles, in order to help you remain stable. These include the hamstrings, spinal erectors, rhomboids, glutes, rear delts, and lats.

What are the benefits of plank jacks?

There are several benefits to adding plank jacks to your regular core day fitness routine. Some of the numerous benefits of plank jacks include:

– Plank jacks strengthen core muscles,

Plank jacks, just like other plank variations, are going to activate all of the core muscles, including the transverse abdominis, rectus abdominis, and obliques. In addition, plank jacks also activate the muscles in the hips and back, strengthening your upper body and a middle section entirely.

– Plank jacks prevent back pain.

By strengthening the core muscles, you are reducing the risk of lower back injury and pain. A strong core is essential for proper spinal alignment and upper body strength, which reduces the risk for back injuries. When the core is strong, the back is under less pressure, which lessens the risk of injury.

– Plank jacks burn calories and fat.

Plank jacks are a form of cardio, which can help burn calories and regulate your weight. Plank jacks, as well as other forms of cardio, can also help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk for heart disease.

How to do a plank jack?

In order to safely perform any exercise, plank jack included, you must do it with good and proper form. Here is how to perform plank jack with proper form:

  1. The starting position is in a plank position, with your feet together and palms on the ground. Your arms should be shoulder-width apart, and your body should be in a straight line from your head to your heels.
  2. Before starting the movement, engage your core
  3. From the starting position, jump your feet hip width at each side (left foot to the left, right foot to the right), just like you would when you are performing as a horizontal jumping jack.
  4. Use your arm muscles and abdominal muscles to hold a plank position as you jump your feet back together quickly into starting position, as you would do in a vertical jumping jack. 

Variations of plank jacks

Several variations can make the plank jacks harder, easier, or just more fun. Some plank jack variations include:

Plank side taps

Plank jacks can also be performed without “jumping” your legs out to the side; this version is called plank side taps.

Instead of separating your feed by jumping, tap your left foot to the left side, bring it back to the center, and do the same with your right foot.

This variation is perfect for those who are looking for a low-impact version of this movement.

Plank Jack to Frog

Start in a high plank position and perform one plank jack as plank jacks require.

After that, lift your hips and hop both legs towards your chest, bending your knees and landing gently on your toes. Then, hop back to the high plank and repeat for ten or more repetitions.

This is a fantastic way to change up the plank jack and have more fun and make it more challenging too, and the perfect addition for any HIIT workout that will really put your lower body, shoulders, core, and legs in serious work.

Alternatives for plank jacks

If you find plank jacks too challenging to perform or have an injury or issues with your hands, arms, or feet, you can regress to simple, traditional plank until you feel stronger.

The traditional plank can be also be performed on your arms and knees as another alternative. If you are looking for the cardio option, try giving rowing, biking, running, or fast walking a try.

Mistakes/Safety Tips

Some helpful tips that are going to help you perform plank jacks, prevent injury and discomfort while performing the plank jacks include:

-Not engaging your core enough

– Ensure to engage your core while you perform plank jacks, bracing all the core muscles, protecting your lower back from injury, and improving your core strength.

-Pushing too much too soon

– Make sure to stop if you feel fatigued, overheated, and dizzy.

-Letting your hips dip

– Do not let your hips dip; make sure your body is in a straight line while performing the movement.

-Avoid further injury

– Avoid or modify plank jacks if you have a wrist injury or any wrist pain. The modified option is performed on forearms instead.

How many calories does a plank Jack burn?

The calories burned during cardio exercise will depend on the bodyweight of the person performing the exercise and movement and their metabolism rate and muscle-to-fat ratio.

For example, a person weighing about 130 pounds will burn five calories after performing plank jacks for a minute.

Do planks burn belly fat?

A plank jack will engage multiple muscle groups at once, thereby burn a lot of calories and improve the strength of the core.

In addition, it will also improve the posture, flexibility and tighten the tummy.

You can add plank jacks to your HIIT workout routine or exercise program three to four times a week to get the best results.

How many plank jacks should I do in a minute for strong core muscles and upper body?

The number of repetitions and sets for this core exercise that improves core strength will depend on your fitness level and fitness goals, but the number you should aim for is 2 to 3 sets of 8 to 15 repetitions with perfect form.

If you are a beginner and find this exercise hard, start by mastering start with regular planks and jumping jacks before putting them together into plank jacks, to avoid injury to your feet and knees.

Are plank jacks high impact?

Because they feature jumping and involve the whole body, plank jacks are considered high-impact exercises perfect for your cardio exercise program, along with other exercises.

However, there is also a low-impact variation, called plank side taps, where the plank is performed without “jumping” the legs out to the side.

Plank side taps are a low-impact and beginner-friendly version of plank jacks.