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How to Do a Plank on Knees: A Hinge Health Guide

Learn how to do a plank on knees to help with total body strength and endurance, plus modifications to make this exercise easier or harder.

Published Date: Aug 31, 2023
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It’s hard to get through any kind of fitness class these days without dropping down into some form of a plank. Regular plank, forearm plank, bear crawl plank, side plank: We can go on and on, but there’s a reason physical therapists and fitness trainers love this exercise. It strengthens multiple muscle groups across your body, can help alleviate and prevent joint and muscle pain, and requires no equipment. 

However, sometimes planks can feel too challenging or more than what your body is ready to handle. In these cases, plank on knees is a great modification to try. Plank on knees is a modified version of the traditional plank that engages many muscle groups, including the abdominal, oblique, and lower back muscles. Regularly incorporating knee planks can be a great tool to bolster muscular strength and promote healthier, more resilient joints.

Here, learn more about the benefits of plank on knees and how you can fit this exercise into your routine. 

Our Hinge Health Experts

Dylan Peterson, PT, DPT
Physical Therapist and Clinical Reviewer
Dr. Peterson is a Hinge Health physical therapist who focuses on developing clinical exercise therapy programs and member education.

What Is a Plank on Knees?

A plank on knees is a modified version of the standard plank exercise, designed to reduce some of the difficulty and intensity of a standard plank. Rather than propping your body up on your feet and forearms (or feet and palms of your hands), you perform the exercise from your knees and forearms (or palms of your hands). 

This modification can be useful for people who are new to exercise, those with certain injuries or limitations, or anyone who finds the full plank too challenging.

What Muscles Does a Plank on Knees Work? 

Similar to the standard plank, a plank on knees primarily targets the core muscles. However, because it is a compound exercise, it also involves other important muscle groups. Here are the primary muscles worked during a plank on knees:

  • Rectus abdominis, commonly known as the "six-pack" muscle. This is the major abdominal muscle that’s responsible for flexing the lumbar spine (low back) and it helps to stabilize the core when doing a plank exercise. 

  • Transverse abdominis. This muscle is located deep within the abdomen, wrapping around the spine to provide stability. It acts a bit like a corset, tightening and stabilizing the core.

  • Obliques, which are located on the sides of the abdomen. These allow you to rotate your trunk and move it side to side. In the plank position, they help stabilize the core and maintain a straight posture.

  • Erector spinae. This group of muscles runs along the spine and helps you extend and stabilize your back.

  • Glutes. The gluteal muscles, especially the gluteus maximus, provide stability and support in the plank position. Engaging your glutes helps you maintain a straight line position during a plank.

  • Quadriceps (front of thigh). Since you're on your knees, the activation might be less intense than in a full plank, but the quadriceps still play a role in stabilizing your legs.

Benefits of Plank on Knees 

By strengthening and engaging multiple muscle groups, including your core muscles, the plank on knees can help make many everyday tasks easier and safer, such as: 

  • Supporting posture. A strong core helps you be comfortable in a variety of positions and postures that feel good to you. 

  • Lifting, whether that’s grocery bags, a child, or objects around the house or office. 

  • Balance. Core strength contributes to overall balance, making daily tasks like climbing stairs or standing on uneven surfaces safer.

  • Twisting and bending, like when reaching for something behind you or bending over to tie your shoe.

  • Preventing back pain by strengthening the areas in and around your back. 

  • Breathing. Believe it or not, a strong core can assist with more effective diaphragmatic breathing, which can be a very effective relaxation technique for many people.

  • Getting up and down from the floor, getting out of bed, or standing up from a seated position. 

  • Household chores like vacuuming, mopping, or gardening. 

  • Pushing and pulling. Whether you're pushing a shopping cart, opening a heavy door, or pulling something toward you, core stability and strength play a role.

Plank on Knees: Exercises and Modifications 

The information contained in these videos is intended to be used for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice or treatment for any specific condition. Hinge Health is not your healthcare provider and is not responsible for any injury sustained or exacerbated by your use of or participation in these exercises. Please consult with your healthcare provider with any questions you may have about your medical condition or treatment.

Plank on Knees

Plank on Knees

Plank on Knees

Plank on Knees

To do a plank on knees: 

  • Lie on your stomach and prop yourself up slightly on your forearms. 

  • Push through your knees and forearms to lift your hips off the floor to about the same height as your shoulders. 

  • Hold this position, focusing on using your core muscles as you do so. 

  • Lower your hips back down to the floor and relax. 

As you do each rep, you might feel your core, shoulder, and hip muscles working. 

Everyone is different, which is why you may need to modify this exercise to meet your needs. 

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Plank on Knees Modifications

Plank on Knees Modifications

Plank on Knees Modifications

Plank on Knees Modifications

To make plank on knees easier:  

  • Bring your hips higher off the floor. 

  • Place more padding under your knees to cushion them if you are having knee discomfort during plank on knees. 

To make plank on knees harder: 

  • Lift your knees off the ground to come to a full plank position on your feet. 

How Hinge Health Can Help You 

If you have joint or muscle pain that makes it hard to move, you can get the relief you’ve been looking for with Hinge Health’s online exercise therapy program. 

The best part: You don’t have to leave your home because our program is digital. That means you can easily get the care you need through our app, when and where it works for you.  

Through our program, you’ll have access to therapeutic exercises and stretches for your condition. Additionally, you’ll have a personal care team to guide, support, and tailor our program to you. 

See if you qualify for Hinge Health and confirm free coverage through your employer or benefit plan here.

This article and its contents are provided for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice or professional services specific to you or your medical condition.

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References

  1. Plank Exercise. (n.d.). Physiopedia. Retrieved from https://www.physio-pedia.com/Plank_exercise

  2. Selvakumar, K., Manoharlal, M. A., Binti Rusli, P. N. S., Low Wei Jing, & Thiruvevenkadampuan, I. A. (2021). Effectiveness of Modified Plank vs Conventional Plank on Core Muscle Endurance and Stability in Recreational Athletes: A Quasi-Experimental study. Journal of Clinical & Diagnostic Research, 15(6), 4–10. doi:10.7860/JCDR/2021/48224.15043

  3. Sifaq, A., Kusuma, I. D., Wahyudi, A. R., Khamidi, A.,&  Yuhantini, E. F. (2020). The Effect of Plank Training With The Concept of Training from Home During The Covid-19 Pandemic. Journal of Physical Education, Health and Sport, 7(2), 38-42.