Some 30-day plank challenges promise to get you ripped abs, quick. But before doing this one or any of the others, you should first consider the approach and remember that, like all forms of exercise, a plank has its advantages and disadvantages. When done with correct alignment, planks are a smart addition to any workout to strengthen deep core muscles, arms, shoulders, neck, back, hips and legs. However this  30-day plank challenges, which require holding a plank position every day, should be done with caution, as bad technique can cause injury.

 

What is a plank?

As illustrated in our challenge, planks refer to the many ways we can hold the trunk of our body off the ground in a straight line. When doing a plank, neck or low back pain may indicate weaknesses in the upper or lower parts of the spine. Be careful if your back sags toward the ground because of a weak core. Sagging can compress vertebrae, put pressure on discs and cause shoulder joint inflammation.

The 30-day plank challenge is pretty common. You want to start off doing the first week in seconds and then slowly graduating into minutes.  If you begin to experience pain during the challenge, it’s best to restructure your workout. For example, start with shorter periods of holding the plank– 5, 10 or 15 seconds instead of starting at 20 seconds as recommended with our challenge. – focusing on perfecting your form. From there, establish the number of sets and reps that are appropriate to maintain solid alignment.

Top 5 Benefits of doing Planks

Works your upper abs, your lower abs, your obliques, and your lower back (do standard and side planks to work your entire abs).

Builds the stabilizer muscles using your body weight only.

Builds strength for pushups, and adds definition to your upper body.

Promotes good posture and helps prevent back injuries.

Strengthen and adds definition to your abs by teaching them  to stay contracted in a regular standing position.

How to Do a Plank

  1. Get  low with your face down on the floor resting on your forearms and knees.
  2. Push off the floor, raising up off your knees onto your toes and resting mainly on your elbows.
  3. Contract your abs to keep yourself up and prevent your booty from sticking up.
  4. Keep your back flat — don’t drop it or you’ll be defeating the purpose. Picture your body as a long straight board, or plank.
  5. Hold as long as you can according to the challenge. Aim for 20-30 seconds in the beginning of the challenge and work your way up to one minute, as you get stronger.
  6. Repeat three times if possible