Plank Every Day: Wellness Challenge
Plank at least 1-2 times every day this week and add 5 seconds to your time each day
“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” – Jim Rohn
- Perform the plank exercise (with proper form) at least 1-2 times each day this week.
- On day one, perform a plank and record the length of time you can hold the plank (while maintaining perfect form).
- During day two’s plank session, add 5 seconds to day one’s time.
- On day three, add 5 seconds to day two’s time. One day four, add 5 seconds to day three’s time. Continue to add 5 seconds to your plank each day until you have completed the one week plank challenge.
- Challenge yourself by doing planks more than 1-2 times per day. Sprinkle them throughout the day.
- It’s okay if you cannot lengthen the time on a particular day. Never force the exercise because you may hurt yourself. If you cannot add time to your plank, either perform extra planks that day, add reps to your plank session, or just stick with the previous day’s time. Try to add the additional 5 seconds the next day.
How to perform the plank exercise
- Lower your body to the ground, belly side down.
- Begin by placing your forearms on the ground. Arms should be shoulder-width apart.
- Keep hands apart and relaxed.
- Elbows should be directly under your armpits and shoulders should be in a down and back position.
- Keep feet shoulder-width apart and toes under heels.
- Align heels, knees, hips, shoulders and head in a straight line, keeping your back in a neutral position. To help keep your spine neutral, do not stick your butt up above hip level toward the ceiling or let your butt sag below the hips.
- Fix your gaze on a point on the ground between your hands.
- To keep your body in alignment, draw in, brace and engage the abdominal and glute (butt) muscles. Do this by drawing in your bellybutton toward your spine and squeezing/tightening your butt.
- Do not hold your breath – slowly inhale and exhale throughout the duration of the exercise.
- Hold this position as long as you can while maintaining perfect form and posture.
- If this plank position is too difficult to hold, perform a modified plank on your knees. Just lower your knees to the ground and start your plank from there. Refer to the photo below.
- Use a timer. Place a timer in front or below you while you plank to keep track of time. Smartphones, digital watches, stop watches and digital kitchen timers work well.
- Place a mat and/or blanket underneath you for support. If your elbows or knees hurt from the pressure of planks, place a yoga mat or folded blanket under your joints.
- Focus on good form and posture. As you aim to increase your hold time with the plank, do not neglect form and posture. Only hold your plank for as long as you can maintain a perfect position.
- Record a video of yourself in action or use a mirror. If you are unsure of what your posture looks like during the plank, use a video or mirror to check form.
- Watch for form breakdown. Reset your plank when you notice your back, hips, butt or head sagging or shoulders shrugging. Stop the exercise and rest if you feel that your abdominal muscles are no longer contracted and there is stress or pain in your joints. NEVER push through joint pain.
- Modify your position when needed. If you struggle with floor planks, change your starting position. Instead of starting on the floor, start high and elevated.
- To perform elevated/high planks, stand, extend arms, and place your hands on a bench, secure countertop, or barbell on a squat rack (which can be lowered a little at a time).
- From this position, get into a plank position where you are on your toes.
- Set timer and maintain this position for as long as you can.
- Once you can hold this high plank in perfect form for 30 seconds (or for 12 reps at 5 seconds each), progress to the floor with arms extended. Refer to the high plank photo below for a visual.
- When you master this position, place your forearms on the floor and perform planks as explained earlier in this article. If you try an advanced plank move and cannot maintain a neutral spine (straight line from your head to your heels), go back to a modified position. Do not progress to a more advanced move until you feel strong enough to hold position with perfect form.
Why Is This Practice Important?
The plank, an exercise that requires no equipment and can be done anywhere, is one of the best moves to build muscles that strengthen the whole body. Planking strengthens your core (especially the transverse abdominis muscle), as well as the muscles in your back, legs, hips, glutes, shoulders, arms and chest. Planks improve intervertebral stability, which helps to protect the spine, improve posture, prevent lower back pain, stabilize the spine during movements like squats, deadlifts and kettlebell swings. This stabilization builds a foundation that improves performance in all athletic endeavors.
Plank World Record
The World Record for the longest time in an abdominal plank position is 8 hours 1 minutes and was achieved by Mao Weidong from China at an event organized by Men’s Health in Beijing, China on May 14, 2016.
There’s no true “plank time standards,” but here is what you can typically expect to be average (according to fitness level):
- Newbie: 5-20+ seconds
- Beginner: 20 seconds – 1+ minute
- Intermediate: 2 minutes – 3+ minutes
- Advanced: 4+ minutes
Join me in this “Plank Every Day” challenge!
Now it’s your turn: Set a timer, challenge yourself and plank as long as you can. Good luck! For those of you who are going plank each day this week, please share your thoughts and experiences with the BambooCore community. Your comments may help others improve their health.
- What do you think about this plank challenge? Will it be easy or difficult for you?
- If difficult, what obstacles are in your way? What can you do to overcome these challenges?
- Is this a wellness practice that you will stick with after this week? Why or why not?
Past wellness challenges
If you like this week’s wellness lifestyle challenge, please share this post, Plank Every Day: Wellness Challenge, with your friends and family. Thanks!
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When she is not slaying fat and building muscle, Jennifer can be found trekking barefoot, traveling, cooking and refining her photography skills. She also enjoys reading and writing about food culture, history and the science of human movement.