This 30-Day Plank Challenge Will Transform Your Core in 4 Weeks

This 30-day challenge is designed to help you progress the amount of time you are able to hold a plank by, yes, holding a standard plank—but also by using other plank-based moves. Switching things up will not only help keep you from getting bored, but it will help you unlock the power in your core. Plus, the circuits will raise your heart rate, get you sweating, and light those abs on fire!

Remember: The plank is a powerful exercise. Strengthening your core muscles can help with everything from stability to helping prevent back pain to sculpting that waistline.

The moves

Straight-arm plank

Start in tabletop, with hands underneath shoulders and knees underneath hips. Brace core; lift knees and step feet back so that legs are straight and feet are about hip-width apart. Your body should be in a straight line from head to heels.

Forearm plank

Lie facedown with legs extended, feet hip-width apart, and elbows bent and directly under shoulders. Contract abs, squeeze glutes, tuck toes, and lift body (forearms remain on ground), forming a straight line from head to heels.

Rocking plank

From a forearm plank, slowly rock forward on toes until shoulders move past hands. Then slowly push shoulders backward until heels extend beyond toes.

Plank hip dips

From a forearm plank, slowly rotate both hips as you dip them to the right side until hips are almost touching ground. Raise hips back up, coming briefly into forearm plank, and then rotate hips to the left. Continue alternating.

Plank up-downs

From a straight-arm plank, lower right elbow to the ground, followed by left, coming into a forearm plank. Place right hand on ground directly beneath right shoulder, and straighten right elbow, then left hand under left shoulder and straighten left elbow, coming back into a straight-arm plank. Continue alternating between straight-arm and forearm plank.

Plank jacks

From a forearm plank, jump feet out to a wide “V”, then jump them back in again. Continue jumping feet in and out.

The plan

For combo moves (i.e. plank + rocking plank), take a 10- to 30-second break between exercises. The amount of time will be dictated by your level (beginner, intermediate, or advanced).

For circuits, do all exercises back to back without rest; where there are multiple rounds, take a maximum of 60 seconds of rest between rounds.

When it comes to plank holds, you can do either the straight-arm plank or the forearm plank. You can also mix things up by doing half of the holds in one plank and half in another. For example: If you’re doing 30-second plank holds, do 15 seconds in forearm plank and then 15 seconds in straight-arm plank. Or, try a forearm plank in one round of a circuit and a straight-arm plank in the second round.

Be sure to record your plank time on Day 1 and the bonus Day 31 (don’t worry, the plan officially ends after 30 days!), so you can track your progress.

Rozalynn S. Frazier, Health senior fitness editor, is a NASM certified personal trainer.

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