Combining multiple exercises is not always good but there are exceptions. Discover how to do plank jacks and whether they are good.
As their name implies, plank jacks are a plank and jumping jack variation where you do the outward-inward leg movements from jumping jacks while you are in a plank position.
This movement works your abs, hip flexors, cardiovascular system, and coordination skills to nice extents.
At the same time, even though plank jacks can still offer positive effects, they are typically not the most effective way toward your training goals.
There are many core and cardiovascular exercises that will offer more results than plank jacks.
If you really enjoy this movement you can still implement it. You just want to know that you are not getting as many results as you could.
How to do a plank jack correctly
Take the following steps to do a plank jack correctly:
- Sit on your forearms and knees.
- Step back with your feet until you are in a straight line from your heels to the top of your head. Don’t let your shoulders hang down too much.
- Make a small jump with your feet and move them outward. Try to keep your body in a straight line. Especially when landing it will be challenging to not lower your hips too much.
- Jump back into the position of step 2.
- Alternate between the positions in steps 3 and 4 for a certain amount of time.
The main technique points to keep in mind for plank jacks are keeping your shoulders high enough and not lowering your hips too much when landing.
To accomplish this second goal you want to really brace your abs before landing.
It is possible that plank jacks are currently too hard for you. In that case, you can start with a variety of plank progressions and regressions.
If you are strong enough for plank jacks you can try to pick up the pace when you get a feel for the movements involved.
Muscles worked with plank jacks
Plank jacks will mainly work your abs, hip flexors (front hips), and to some extent your quadriceps (front thighs).
Additionally, the extra leg movements will make it so plank jacks work your hip abductors (outer thigh muscles) and hip adductors (inner thigh muscles) more than regular planks.
If you see any muscle growth from plank jacks, it will likely be in your abs and potentially hip flexors.
At the same time, you want to keep in mind that plank jacks work these muscles in a relatively isometric (static) way.
This is relevant because more dynamic exercises tend to be more effective for growing and strengthening muscles.
That being said, you can still see positive results from doing plank jacks if you do enough of them with enough resistance.
People who are more experienced with core training may need to do plank jacks with a weighted vest to do this.
Another option is wearing ankle weights to make plank jacks more challenging for your inner and outer thigh muscles.
Benefits of plank jacks
Even if plank jacks are not always optimal, they can still offer some valuable benefits. Some of these are:
- Stronger muscles: Planks jacks work a few muscles in nice amounts. With enough resistance and repetitions, this could lead to growth and strengthening.
- Can help with losing weight: The movements in plank jacks will likely burn more energy than what you typically do. In turn, this makes it more likely that you lose weight.
- Improves mood: Moving intensely tends to promote the release of hormones that improve your mood. This applies to plank jacks too.
- No equipment or location required: Many people will not have to invest in exercise equipment or go to a specific location to get in a good plank jack workout.
- Improves sleep: Doing plank jacks throughout the day can benefit your sleep quality and duration at night.
- May prevent back pain: If you don’t overdo it, strengthening your abs with plank jacks can reduce your risk of getting back pain (1, 2).
- Coordination: The movements in plank jacks require a certain amount of coordination. Doing things that are challenging in this area can help you get better.
If you like doing plank jacks and these benefits align with your training goals, you could still consider adding this exercise to your routine.
Plank jacks alternatives
If you don’t necessarily like plank jacks you likely want to know about the alternatives that can offer more results in a shorter amount of time. Some examples are:
- Other plank variations
- Weighted leg abductions
- Weighted leg adductions
- Mountain climbers
- Jumping jacks
Why you were interested in plank jacks and why you conclude that they are not for you will influence what alternatives you prefer.
Are plank jacks a good exercise?
Plank jacks can help you work your abs, hip flexors, cardiovascular system, and coordination skills in nice amounts.
You can definitely say doing this exercise offers benefits over doing nothing. If you like doing plank jacks, you can add them to your workout routine.
At the same time, you want to know that plank jacks are often not the most effective exercise option either.
For each of the fitness goals above, you should be able to find alternatives that you also enjoy while seeing more results in a shorter amount of time.
What are plank jacks good for?
Plank jacks are good for working your abs, hip flexors, cardiovascular system, and coordination skills in one movement.
Why are plank jacks so hard?
Many people will find plank jacks hard because of how challenging it is for their ab muscles. To resolve this, you can grow, strengthen, and improve endurance in your abs with other exercises.