Are you interested in doing the Plank Challenge? This 30 day challenge will help you to strengthen your core and help you to smash those ab muscles. This Plank challenge is aimed to get you from doing a very simple plank and develop into mastering some of the more complex plank exercises. This article will teach you 16 different plank exercises, each helping to strengthen different muscle groups.
I can guarantee if you can only do a 30 second plank at the moment, at the end of this challenge you will be able to hold it for a lot longer!
Who is this challenge for?
Whether you are new to doing planks or do them regularly, after these 30 days you will notice a massive difference to your strength levels. I have written this challenge first to help explain what a plank is and why you should do them.
I will then run through how you do a basic plank and then the different plank exercises. As you develop through the plank challenge, you will want to move onto more complex planks. If you do have any questions/comments, please do leave them in the comment section below. When you have completed this 30 day plank challenge, let me know how you get on!
Let’s get going….are you ready?
What Is A Plank?
The plank is an isometric exercises. This basically means you keep the same position and does not involve any movement. It does go by other names such as Front Hold and Abdominal Bridge, although it is more commonly known as plank. By maintaining the plank position for as long as possible helps to strengthen your abs as well as your core.
It might look very easy and not very hard, I can guarantee no matter how strong you are or think you are...Planks are hard work and a real exercises!
How To Plank
The basic plank is a fairly simple and straightforward exercise. You need to get into the press up position but instead of holding yourself up with the palm of your hands, you rest on forearms. Your holding your bodyweight up on your forearms, elbows and your toes.
You need to make sure that you bum is in and you form a straight line from your heels to your head. As you continue to hold you will feel a tightening sensation in your abs. The more you hold this will get more intense, keep a hold of the position until you cannot hold anymore...then hold for a little longer 😉
Benefits Of Plank
Why exactly should you do planks, what is the point? By adding plank exercises into your routine, you can see the following benefits;
One of the main reason people do planks is to help strengthen their abdominal muscles. The end goal is to have a toned belly and to hopefully see an impressive six pack. Obviously planks alone won't do this, as you also need to make sure your body fat percentage is low enough.
Back Pain Treatment
Do you suffer from back pain? If so you might want to add planks to your workout routine. Since they strengthen your core and your back muscles, you can find that it helps to reduce lower back pain. It is however important that they are done correctly, incorrect planks could worsen pains.
Become More Flexible
You can find that by doing planks, you become more flexible. Your muscles in your shoulders and shoulder blades are stretched more, giving them more movability. The hamstrings are also stretched and these muscles can get stretched even more by doing different types of plank exercises.
It’s been proven that working out and exercises can help increase your mood, due to the release of dopamine (the happy hormone). The same happens with Planks, however they do help with your mood even more. Planks stretch a lot of your muscle groups, helping to release the tension within your body and giving you that “ahhh” feeling.
Common Plank Mistakes
There are a number of common mistakes that people make when attempting to do planks. You need to make sure that you are doing them properly to avoid neck or lower back pain. If you do experience any pain then stop what you are doing and make sure you are doing it right. It will feel like you are working your abs but it should not cause pain.
Make sure to try and avoid these very common mistakes;
Pushing Yourself too Much
You want to get the most out of your workouts BUT you should not push beyond your ability. Doing so will result in you getting muscle fatigue/pain and not be able to repeat the exercise the following day. Take it slow and only take on an exercise that you know you can cope.
Allowing hips, head and/or shoulders to drop
In order to do a plank correctly, you need to make sure you do not allow the above to drop. The key to the exercise is holding the position for as long as possible.
Hands to Close Together
Doing this does impact on your balance and also could potentially cause problems to your shoulder joint. Make sure your hands are in line with your shoulders.
Holding The Breath
Breathing is important in any exercise. So many people seem to hold their breath, even more so when coming to their limit. Do not stop breathing, this will help you get through the exercise and I can guarantee those that breath properly will do planks for longer.
15 Different Plank Exercises
Doing a standard plank on a regular basis is going to do great things for your abs and your core. Incorporating different types of planks to your routine, will help to strengthen other muscle groups as well.
Below are 16 different plank exercises, each one giving you some impressive benefits and results.
The standard plank is the most common plank to be done. As mentioned above you go into the pushup position but instead of putting your weight on your hands you put it on your forearms. Thus should then be held as long as possible.
Knee to Elbow Plank/Spiderman Plank
This plank is known as the knee to Elbow, however it is also known as the Spiderman plank. It gets this name because it looks like spider man crawling on the wall. Get into the standard plank position and then lift your right knee and move it to your right elbow. Return back to the standard plank and alternative with the left side. Repeat until you have completed a full set.
Push up position Plank
This plank exercise incorporates the plank along with a push up, helping to strengthen the abs and your triceps. The first step is to get into the standard plank position and hold for 5 seconds. With leading your right arm move from your forearm to your palm and follow with the left, do one pushup and then place the right hand down onto your forearm followed by the left. Repeat but start with the left hand side and continue to alternate.
Similar to the push up plank but without the actual push up exercises. Start in the standard plank position. With your right arm move from your forearm to your hand and repeat on the left. Return back to the standard plank, moving your right arm first and then your left. Repeat by starting from your left side and continue to alternative.
Your first need to get into the standard plank position. Jump both legs out to the side like a jumping jack and return them back to the plank position. You MUST try and make sure to keep your core engaged. If you do find this hard to do then you can try starting with the simplified version.
When in the plank position, move your right leg out, followed by your left. Return your left leg and then your right and continue to repeat.
Arm Extend Plank
Like the other exercises, start in the standard plank position. Whilst holding the plank extend one arm above the head and in front of you. Keep this position for around 4 seconds and then replace with the other arm.
Leg Raise Plank
Like the Arm Extender you start with the standard plank. Instead of raising an arm in front you left one of your legs up and hold for 4 seconds. Repeat with the other leg and continue to alternate until all reps done.
The Superman Plank combines the extended arm plank and leg raise, although you won't be flying. Get into the standard plank position, Extend your right arm forward and at the same time lift your left leg. Hold for 4 seconds and then repeat with the alternate leg and arm.
The side plank is probably the most common after the standard plank. Unlike most if not all exercises you will NOT start from the standard plank position. Turn to your side and place your forearm down pointing away from the body. It will be a 90 degree angle from the shoulder. Put your legs together and raise your hips. Hold the position for as long as possible.
Plank SquatSquats and Planks are well-known exercises within Calisthenics. This combination really helps to strengthen the abs as well as the hamstrings. Start the workout in the standard plank position. Bring your knees in and bring yourself up into the squat position. Return down to the plank and continue to repeat for the required amount of times.
Plank Downward Dog To Toe Tap
Combining planks with a well known yoga position, this workout is great for the abs. From the plank position pull your bum up and bring your hands back into the downward dog position. With your right hand tap your toe and return back to the plank. Repeat but this time touch your left toe. Continue to repeat for the required reps.
The Circular is a great workout to help with the abs and hips, it can also help with improving balance. When in the standard plank position, on your toes rotate your hips around in a circle. Continue for as long as you are able to hold the plank.
This plank exercises is very similar to the Circular plank. Instead of going round in circles, you want to be moving forwards and backwards. You are basically in a plank position and then rocking forwards and backwards.
Plank with single arm fly
A fairly common and easy plank exercise, however it does take a lot of arm strength and balance to compete properly. Whilst in the standard plank position, lift one of your arms up to the side and hold for 5 seconds. Return and do the same with the other arm. Continue rotating until you have completed the workout.
The reverse plank is a great exercises but at the same time can be pretty tough. If you do have shoulder or wrist problems then you may want to be careful when completing this workout. When sitting down pace your hands behind you and lay your heels in front of you. Lift up your hips and place your palms on the ground, from your feet to head should be a straight line.
You can also do the same exercise with your forearms behind you instead, if you find this easier.
The 30 Day Plank Challenge Routine
In the challenge below you will see that at the start of each week you are asked to test how long you can do a plank for. You need to do this so you can see how you are progressing. Don’t worry if you cannot hold it for long, the point of it is to see how you are doing.
Quality is better than quantity…
If you are new to planks you may find that you are not able to complete all of the reps or able to keep the plank for as long. Dont worry. It’s more important to do the exercise right but less of them than more but doing them wrong.
If you cannot complete all the times or reps, don't feel disheartened. You will find at the end of the 30 days your fitness levels will have increased dramatically. Nothing stopping you from attempting the challenge again 😉