How To Do Plank Jacks

By: Chris Freytag, CPT

Chris Freytag demonstrates Plank Jacks

Plank jacks are a core body exercise that strengthen all the muscles of the core and improve your stability. By “jacking” your feet out and in while trying to hold a steady plank, you are training all the muscles of the core to work better and stabilize you. In particular, you will learn how to draw in your transversus abdominus which is the key muscle for a flat belly. By using an unstable surface, more muscle fibers are recruited and used to keep your torso stable. If you learn how to do plank jacks you want to make sure to try and keep your torso as still as possible while your feet are doing the “jumping jack” action.

They may look easy, but don’t be fooled. Plank jacks and medicine ball plank jacks are both challenging exercises that will make you feel your abs and lower back the next day!

Use the links below to quickly navigate this guide:

How To Do A Plank Jack

Here are the steps to performing plank jacks:

A) Begin in a plank position with your shoulders over your wrists, your feet together, and your body in a straight line.

B) Similar to the motion of a jumping jack, jump your feet wide keeping your buttocks down. Jump your feet back together.

Be sure to keep your lower abs pulled in very tightly as you jack your feet. If you do not pull them in, your body will bounce up and down and you will end up with a sore back and less results. Keep your belly super tight!

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What Muscles Do Plank Jacks Work?

Plank jacks is an awesome upper body and core strength move that works your chest, back, shoulders, arms, abdominal muscles, lower back and stabilizers. Plank jacks is a great cardio exercise too!

Benefits of Plank Jacks

There are many reasons you should incorporate plank jacks into your workouts. Here are just a few:

Stronger Core

Plank jacks are, first and foremost, a core body exercise. This move gets your body to tighten and contract all of your core muscles while your feet are jumping out and in creating movement and instability through your trunk. Through the contraction of the core muscles you are able to keep your mid-section stable and strong during movement. It’s like a plank on steroids!

Stronger Upper Body

Plank jacks not only work your core, but you get a great challenge for your upper body as well. Your arm muscles will be contracted the entire time you are working and, much like the core, helping to stabilize you as your feet are jumping in and out. Plank jacks will target biceps, triceps and shoulder muscles for beautiful, sculpted arms.

Cardio Boost

Here’s a newsflash: you don’t need to be on your feet to get your heart rate up. Plank jacks are the perfect example of an upper body way to boost your heart rate and get a great cardio challenge. Try it and see if you aren’t breathing heavy in just 30 seconds or so. Results? Absolutely!

How Many Calories Do Plank Jacks Burn?

People often ask how many calories they are burning in their workouts. Most exercises will generally burn about 100 calories for every 10 minutes you are working at high intensity. Plank jacks are definitely high intensity. Bottom line – the harder you work, the more calories you burn. Plank jacks will get you working fast!

Other Exercises Similar to Plank Jacks

If you like plank jacks and the results you get from it, here are a few more exercises you might want to try.

  1. How To Do Crossbody Planks
  2. How To Do Spiderman Abs
  3. How To Do Side Plank Lift and Lower

Incorporating Plank Jacks Into Your Workouts

Plank jacks are an amazing exercise all on its own! However, you could also incorporate plank jacks into other workouts to mix them up. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Use Plank Jacks in a Core Strength Workout

It only takes 4 or 5 good moves to get a complete core workout and cover virtually every muscle group in your mid-section. Plank jacks are incorporated into this next workout that will do just exactly that!

Sculpted Core in 5 Simple Moves Workout

Here’s a short, sweet and effective workout for your core that uses plank jacks as an anchor! For the following workout, perform the exercise as instructed. If you still feel great at the end, try going through each move one more time!

Oblique Crunch – 15 Reps per side

Plank Jacks – 15 Reps

Sprinter Sit-Ups – 15 Reps Right leg, 15 Reps Left leg

Hip Dips – 16 Total Reps

Straight Leg Toe Touch – 15 Reps


Use Plank Jacks in a HIIT Workout

High-Intensity Interval Training or “HIIT” is well-known by trainers to be the best way to get in your cardio with record time and record results. By doing exercises for 20 seconds at a very high intensity and then resting for 10 seconds, your heart rate stays elevated creating a higher calorie burn and stronger heart. Here is a great HIIT Workout that uses plank jacks.

10-Minute HIIT It Hard Workout

No equipment needed. Just get ready to work hard and get that body in shape in 10 minutes!

Warm up by marching or jogging lightly for 1 minute.

Continue warming up by doing 1 minute of a basic jumping jack.

Now do these four moves in a row- 20 seconds as hard as you can for each with 10 seconds rest in between. Repeat the series.

Squat Jumps

Plank Jacks


Push-Up Punch (repeat)

Rest for 30 seconds then go to the next block of 4 moves using the same pattern


Plank Jacks


Mountain Climbers

Use Plank Jacks In An Upper Body Challenge

Plank jacks create strong arms, especially when combined with other challenging upper body moves. Try plank jacks in this awesome upper body challenge workout that you can do at home with a simple pair of dumbbells and body weight.

Upper Body At Home Challenge

This workout uses plank jacks and covers every upper body muscle and more! Grab a medium pair of dumbbells and go from one move directly to the next. Make sure you repeat 2 times!

Push-Ups – 12 reps

Plank Jacks – 12 reps

Bicep Curl Lunge – 12 Reps

Tricep Overhead Extensions – 12 Reps

Squat Thruster – 12 Reps

Shoulder Front Raise – 12 Reps

Cross Behind Lunge Lateral Raise – 12 Reps

Straight Arm Press Back – 12 Reps

Reverse Grip Double Arm Row – 12 Reps

Repeat once more through

Here are 3 more workouts that incorporate Plank Jacks you might want to try:

Plank You Very Much 10 Minute Workout

Ultimate Upper Body HIIT Workout

How To Get Rid of a Muffin Top

Targets: shoulders, core, hamstrings

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