This piece was originally written for Health Alliance’s Blog and features information about Health Alliance’s products and services. Visit that site for more on my healthy journey and many more health and insurance subjects

This time, for the 30-Day Plank Challenge, I’m going to give you all the exercises and the schedule up front so you can follow along every day, and then I can just check in.

The plank strengthens your core, a complex series of muscles that includes your entire body, minus your legs, head, and arms. It doesn’t take equipment, machines, or special apparel. All you need is a little motivation.

Injury Prevention Tips

  • It’s recommended to start at level one and progress daily to ensure proper strength and form.
  • It’s essential that your spine stays level and that you activate your lower abs to protect your low back. If your back starts to arch, or your butt starts to dip, it’s time to call it a day.
  • Always make sure your wrists or elbows are directly under your shoulders to relieve any shoulder pressure.
  • You should not feel any joint, back, or shoulder pain during your planks. If you are, it’s probably related to your form. Have someone take a picture of you, or ask a friend to review your form. Make sure everything is in a straight line.
  • Remember to breath. Holding your breath makes the exercise harder and can cause an increase in your blood pressure. Focusing on your breath can actually improve your concentration and duration.

There are two different kinds of planks, in different levels, that you will use for this challenge: the front plank and the side plank.

Beginner Front Plank

Beginner – Static Knee Forearm Plank – Start with your knees together and on the ground. Place your elbows directly under your shoulders and rest your weight on your forearms. Flatten your spine, and press through your elbows to keep your chest from falling forward. Suck your navel into your spine and tighten your abdominals. Look straight down, allowing your neck to stay aligned with your spine.

Intermediate Front Plank

Intermediate – Static Forearm Plank – Start with your toes together and on the ground. Place your elbows directly under your shoulders and rest your weight on your forearms. Flatten your spine, and press through your elbows to keep your chest from falling forward. Suck your navel into your spine and tighten your abdominals. Look straight down, allowing your neck to stay aligned with your spine.

Advanced One Leg Front Plank

Advanced – One Leg Forearm Plank – Start with your toes together and on the ground. Place your elbows directly under your shoulders and rest your weight on your forearms. Flatten your spine, and press through your elbows to keep your chest from falling forward. Suck your navel into your spine and tighten your abdominals. Look straight down, allowing your neck to stay aligned with your spine. Lift one leg off the ground to challenge your stability. Be sure to alternate legs.

Beginner Side Plank

Beginner – Static Knee Forearm Side Plank – Start with your knees together and on the ground. Place your right elbow on the ground directly under your shoulder. Straighten your spine, tighten your abdominals, and look straight ahead. Hold. Repeat on the left side. Once you reach one minute on each side with little struggle, then progress to the next level.

Intermediate Side Plank

Intermediate/Advanced – Static Side Forearm Plank – Start with your feet together and on the ground, keep your knees lifted and the body in one straight line. Place your right elbow on the ground directly under your shoulder. Straighten your spine, tighten your abdominals, and look straight ahead. Hold. Repeat on the left side. Once you reach one minute on each side with little struggle, then progress to the next level.

Once you’ve chosen a level to follow, use this tracker for how long to hold your planks each day:

30-Day Plank Challenge Tracker

Use this month to build your core with other Health Alliance employees and me today!

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