Plank Challenge: When “planking” took over the internet for a few weeks last year it made doing planks seem more like a joke than an effective fitness exercise. The truth is, planking is one of the best full-body routines you can do to strengthen every part of your body.
The 21-Day Plank Challenge
Here’s how it works:
Week 1 – Perfecting Your Form:
Proper form with planks is vital to getting results. When you assume the position, the back of your body – from your heels down your back and through the back of your head – should form a straight line. Throughout this first week, you should be focusing on achieving that “stiff as a board” feel and holding it for 5 – 10 seconds at a time. By the end of the week, you should be able to get up to 30 seconds.
- Learn what a straight line feels like by standing straight up with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms in an L-shape out from your shoulders. Focus on the bottoms of your feet. Does it feel like your weight is distributed evenly from toe-to-heel??
- Once your weight is as close to evenly-distributed as you can get, have a friend gently push you from different directions. Focus on the muscles you have to engage in order to maintain your balance and keep the weight distribution even on the bottoms of your feet..
Week 2 – Boost Your Endurance:
In Week 1 you were probably dropping to the ground when your muscles were tired. In this week your goal should be to do at least 30 seconds, then rest in Downward Dog instead of dropping to the floor. After 15 seconds in Downward Dog, go back to plank without ever relaxing your body.
By the end of the week, you should be able to do 2 or 3 consecutive planks of 60 seconds each without going to the floor to rest.
Week 3 – Switch It Up:
Week 3 is where you get to throw in some variety and truly start to build strength to accompany your fitness endurance. Try the three variations described below. Your goal should be to do all three of these consecutively without losing your balance or needing a break.
- Mass Mover – Drop your right hip so your thigh lightly grazes the floor. Straighten back to plank then repeat on the left side.
- Balance Beam – Without shifting your weight, take your right elbow off the floor and reach straight out from your shoulder. Then replace your right arm and repeat with your left.
- Level Up – From traditional plank, push up off your right elbow to straighten your arm. Then straighten your left arm as well so that you are in a high plank position. Hold for five seconds then do the opposite movement to drop back down to plank.
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If you can complete this fitness challenge in 21 days you will notice a change in your core strength and endurance. Test yourself by adding other variations and longer endurance times.