One of the most important things you can do for your body is to strengthen it’s foundation—your core. The core muscles support the rest of your body, and having a strong core can help minimize low-back pain, improve your performance and enhance your overall fitness and well-being.
One of the best exercises for strengthening the core is the plank, because it effectively recruits so many muscles, including the abdominals and back muscles. Plus, planks don’t require any equipment or involve any complex movements, and they can be easily be modified and performed just about anywhere.
To help you start reaping the benefits of performing planks, here is a four-week core challenge that is easy to follow and super effective. This challenge has two components: a core workout, which you’ll perform three days per week, plus a daily plank challenge. By the end of the next four weeks, you will have a stronger core and you’ll be able to hold a plank a lot longer than you were able to at the beginning of the challenge.
Part 1: Plank Core Workout
- Perform this workout three days a week on non-consecutive days.
- Complete each circuit three times.
- Perform each exercise for time, and feel free to adjust the time intervals to suit your fitness level. Ideally, you want to increase the interval time by 5-10 seconds per exercise each week.
- Rest when you need to and pay attention to your form. If your back starts to arch, drop to your knees.
Plank Circuit 1: Complete 3 rounds.
- Plank - 20 seconds
- Rainbow Planks - 20 seconds
- Plank Hip Raises - 20 seconds
- Plank - 25 seconds
- Rainbow Planks - 25 seconds
- Plank Hip Raises - 25 seconds
- Plank - 30 seconds
- Rainbow Planks - 30 seconds
- Plank Hip Raises - 30 seconds
- Plank - 35 seconds
- Rainbow Planks - 35 seconds
- Plank Hip Raises - 35 seconds
Plank Hip Raises
Plank Circuit 2: Complete 3 rounds.
- Side Plank Left - 20 seconds
- Side Plank Right - 20 seconds
- Supermans - 20 seconds
- Side Plank Left - 25 seconds
- Side Plank Right - 25 seconds
- Supermans - 25 seconds
- Side Plank Left - 30 seconds
- Side Plank Right - 30 seconds
- Supermans - 30 seconds
- Side Plank Left - 35 seconds
- Side Plank Right - 35 seconds
- Supermans - 35 seconds
Part 2: Daily Plank Challenge
Perform a plank everyday. On day one, hold the plank for 10 seconds and then increase your plank time by 10 seconds on each subsequent day. By the end of 30 days, you will be holding your plank for five minutes. But don’t get discouraged if you can’t reach that milestone—listen to your body and stop when you need to. If your form starts to suffer, transition to your knees. If increasing by 10 seconds per day feels like too much, add 5 seconds per day instead. The point is to be consistent and not get discouraged.