Fitness
30-day plank challenge
Perfect your plank (or learn to hold one for the first time) to tone your middle and boost your balance and posture in just four weeks.

What’s so great about planks? They help you do everything better. 

While crunches tone the top layer of abs, planks go deeper and tone more of your core. That means more benefits to everyday life. Consider that a tree would crack or snap in half when the wind blew if its trunk weren’t strong. Your core is the same way. When you strengthen it, it helps you become better at everything you do, including improving your balance and posture. 

Plus, training your whole core hits your six-pack muscles as well as your internal and external obliques—the muscles that run up the sides of your midsection from your ribs to your pelvis. “These muscles give you those nice little lines we envy in all those Instagram #transformationtuesday shots, but they’re actually doing more for you than looking picture-perfect—they’re holding in your waist,” says exercise physiologist Michele Olson, PhD, adjunct professor of sport science at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, AL. “When strengthened, these muscles have the ability to pull your entire midsection in like a corset.” 

RELATED: Why you should train your core even if you don’t want a six-pack

So get to it! This doable 30-day plan starts with a basic plank that gets the key muscle groups working together in your core. (Can’t do a plank? Start by doing it on your knees, not your toes.) Then, you’ll add to the challenge by recruiting more core muscles each week and lengthening the time you’re toning the muscles. Ready? Here’s what to do: 

While doing your planks… 

 

+ Check yourself to be sure you’re not slipping out of form. The most common slips: letting your hips sag to the ground, hiking your butt in the air, and hunching your shoulders forward. “When your body starts to shake and you feel like you want to quit, this is when you’ll know change is happening,” says Olson. Power through your reps and you’ll see progress every day.

+ If you can’t hold the plank with good form for the whole time, modify your position. It’s better to switch from your toes to your knees and stick with the time frame than give up completely and cheat on time. “Doing the time is what sparks change in your body,” says Olson. 

 

WW 30-day plank challenge

 

Week 1

 

Monday: Yoga plank. Hold for 20 seconds
Get into position: Place your hands on the floor, palms under shoulders, arms straight. Extend your legs behind you and balance your body between your toes and your arms. Your body should be in a straight line from ears to shoulders to hips to knees to ankles. Start on knees, if needed (see Tuesday).Tuesday: Yoga plank (on knees, below). Hold for 20 secondsWednesday: Yoga plank. Hold for 25 seconds
(Progress to toes, if you can)

Thursday: Forearm plank. Hold for 25 seconds
Same as yoga plank, but rest your forearms on the floor. (on knees)

Friday: Forearm plank (on knees, illustrated above). Hold for 30 seconds


Extra credit: Repeat Friday’s workout on Saturday and Sunday. 

 

WEEK 2


Monday: Forearm plank. Hold for 30 seconds
(If you were on your knees, try using just one knee, as seen above))

Tuesday: Forearm plank. Hold for 35 seconds
(Can be on one knee)

Wednesday: Forearm plank. Hold for 35 seconds
(Try without being on knees and balancing on toes)

Thursday: Forearm plank. Hold for 35 seconds + Faceup plank (below). Hold for 15 seconds
Get into position: Lie on your back on the floor. Keeping legs together and knees straight, raise your legs off the floor until they’re at about a 45-degree angle (this is halfway between legs directly over hips and legs facing directly forward).

Make it easier: Point legs more toward the ceiling than the floor, or all the way toward the ceiling.  

Friday: Forearm plank. Hold for 35 seconds + Faceup plank. Hold for 15 seconds

Extra credit: Repeat Friday’s workout on Saturday and Sunday. 

 

WEEK 3


Monday: Yoga plank. Hold for 45 seconds + Forearm plank. Hold for 20 seconds

Tuesday: Yoga plank. Hold for 45 seconds + Forearm plank. Hold for 20 seconds

Wednesday: Yoga plank. Hold for 45 seconds + Face-up plank. Hold for 15 seconds

Thursday: Forearm plank. Hold for 45 seconds + Yoga plank. Hold for 35 seconds

Friday: Forearm plank. Hold for 45 seconds+ Yoga plank. Hold for 40 seconds

Extra credit: Repeat Friday’s workout on Saturday and Sunday. 

 

WEEK 4

Monday: Forearm plank.. Hold for 45 seconds + Side plank (below). Hold for 20 seconds on each side
Get into position: Lying on your right side on the floor, stack your legs so that your left leg is on top of your right, place your right forearm on the ground and press your hip toward the ceiling to lift your body; keep your left hand on your left hip.
Make it easier: Rest your right knee on the ground with your heel pointing behind you, or stack both knees on the ground.
The end goal: To perform this move with both legs stacked and arm fully straightened. 

Tuesday: Yoga plank. Hold for 60 seconds + Side plank. Hold for 20 seconds on each side (can be on knees, see above).

Wednesday: Yoga plank. Hold for 60 seconds + Side plank. Hold for 20 seconds on each side + Faceup plank. Hold for 20 seconds

Thursday: Yoga plank. Hold for 30 seconds + Forearm plank. Hold for 60 seconds + Side plank. Hold for 20 seconds on each side +Faceup plank. Hold for 20 seconds.

Friday:  Yoga plank. Hold for 60 seconds + Side plank. Hold for 30 seconds on each side + Faceup plank. Hold for 20 seconds + Forearm plank. Hold for 45 seconds.

Extra credit: Repeat Friday’s workout on Saturday and Sunday. 

RELATED: 30-day challenge: do a full push-up!