The Ballistic Plank Exercise For Rock-Hard Abs

Flatten Your Stomach and Carve Your Abs With this Head-Turning, Fear-Inducing, Posture-Improving, Advanced Plank Exercise

The Ballistic Plank Exercise

You want core strength. Good. You want spinal stability. Good. You want six pack abs that turn heads so quickly that necks are breaking left and right… Err, nevermind.

But seriously, if you want core strength, spinal stability, and abs built like a brick wall (good visual, eh?), then let me introduce you to the ballistic plank exercise. I personally guarantee that not only will you develop serious core strength with this, but you will also turn heads with this exercise – lots of heads. No matter who you are or where you train, if there are other people within eyesight, they will be staring at you while you do this. They’ll be thinking “what on Earth is that guy training for. I don’t think I could do that if I tried.” So, I hope you don’t mind the extra attention because the ballistic plank is an attention-GRABBER. Fair warning.

Before now, I’ve only taught this particular exercise to a handful of people. And after showing my clients a quick demonstration, every single one of them was hesitant to try it – at least, the advanced version. There was some serious fear-reactivity going on. And so, I told them they needed to trust in their own ability and in their coaches wisdom. And then I showed them the beginner-level version, and each one of them said something to the effect of, “oh, that’s easy. I could do that.”

And that’s exactly what I’m going to do today – provide you a blueprint for working your way up to the ballistic plank exercise. You see, after you’ve spent some quality time with the standard plank exercise, it’s time to step things up a bit, in a big way – and that big way is the ballistic plank. You’ll see why in a minute.

Note: This is an advanced exercise. Beginners should start by learning the basic plank technique here: Plank Exercise Technique. Then work up to a 5 minute plank before attempting the ballistic plank exercise: The 5 Minute Plank Challenge. Also, please do not attempt this if you have any pre-existing injuries or chronic pains, especially in and around the shoulders, elbows, neck, and lower back. And I mean that! These problems usually don’t respond well to high-impact, ballistic training. Healthy, fit persons whom have their doctor’s clearance only, please. Any questions, see the medical disclaimer. Capeesh?

The Ballistic Plank Exercise For Rock-Hard Abs

note: Exercise intro starts at 1:30, Exercise Instruction starts at 4:00.

Note: when you’re first learning this, you can use an exercise mat or something similar to cushion the impact and lessen the fear-reactivity. I recommend against using a pillow since you’ll want something with enough firmness to absorb the impact without deviating your hands/elbows and risking a sprain or strain.

So, you see, it’s not so bad when you have the steps to work up to it. Here are the progressions again from easiest to hardest:

1) Ballistic plank onto hands from kneeling
2) Ballistic plank onto hands from deep knee bend (aka ball of foot squat)
3) Ballistic plank onto hands from low squat
4) Ballistic plank onto hands from standing

5) Ballistic plank onto forearms from kneeling
6) Ballistic plank onto forearms from deep knee bend (aka ball of foot squat)
7) Ballistic plank onto forearms from low squat
8) Ballistic plank onto forearms from standing

I suppose you could also perform ballistic planks with a weighted vest (start very light!) or from higher heights (e.g. from a stair or aerobics step, from your roof, etc.), but I’ve never ventured into that territory. And obviously, caution must be employed liberally.

Note: do NOT try this from your roof. That would be really – REALLY – dumb. OK? Carry on.

Key Points:

  • Maintain a rigid body during the descent, ensuring a neutral spine upon impact (tailbone tucked slightly).
  • Land in the plank position (click here to review optimal technique of the plank exercise).
  • Exhale forcefully through the mouth upon impact in combination with a strong core contraction.
  • Do not attempt if you are really scared. A little bit of fear is totally normal, though.
  • Have fun!

Final Words

So, now you know how to bust a plank anytime, anywhere, and with alarming speed. Your abs will thank you, at least after the DOMS has worn off.

If you enjoyed this post, please like it, share it, or just think positive thoughts about my website for a few seconds before closing the window. More instructional videos coming your way soon!

If you found this article helpful, please share it with your friends and tweeps:

Health-First Fitness Coach

5 Responses

  1. When doing the plank to your forearms which part of the arm should hit first? The hands, elbows?

    • Good question. Ideally, the whole forearm should contact the ground at the same time.

  2. Erin from Long Island

    This looks really fun! I obviously will start from scratch, but what do you recommend as far as reps and times per week and such?

    • I don’t have any specific recommendations (ie numbers), but start very conservatively and make it more about PRACTICE than training. Add volume and progress through the levels whenever you feel ready for more. You’ll know when that is better than I do.

  3. Hey, John,

    Just found your blog, and this blogpost in particular. Interesting stuff all around, and I’m yet to dive deeper.

    Quick question on the ballistic plank: you do still stand in the position for some time as with the common plank, do you not? Otherwise, unless you repeat the “crash”, it doesn’t seem helpful. If you do stand, what would your recommendation be onto how long? If I’m able to do five minutes common elbow plank, should I do five minutes with each level of the ballistic plank as well?

    With best regards,


Leave a Reply