“Core strength” is more than just a fitness buzz term to remind you that you probably don’t do enough sit-ups. Core strength actually refers to the strength of deep muscle groups in your abdomen, back, and glutes — the three muscle groups that are essential to supporting your spine and helping you maintain your balance. If what you do involves sitting for a large part of your day, strengthening these core muscles could be more important to your health than you think. Odds are, you aren’t sitting at your desk with perfect posture for hours on end, but strengthening your core could help support your spine and prevent the pain and poor posture that comes from sitting slumped over your desk all day long.
I know that exercising your core can seem tedious when your go-to exercise is literally sitting up and laying back down 100 times in a row. But what most people don’t know is that working your core means more than just your abdominal muscles, but also engaging your glutes and back muscles as well so that the work of supporting your spine is distributed throughout your body. This is especially important for anyone who is top-heavy and strains their back regularly. Fortunately, a full core workout can be much more physically engaging and mentally stimulating than sit-ups.
Why are planks so helpful?
Planks are an essential exercise in working your core. According to Dr. Jinger Gottschall, assistant professor of kinesiology at Penn State University,
“[PLANKS] MAINTAIN THE STABILITY OF THE CORE MUSCLES, WHICH SUPPORT PROPER POSTURE BY SAFEGUARDING AN ERECT POSITION AND PROPER ALIGNMENT OF THE SPINE” AND ALLOWS FOR “MORE THREE-DIMENSIONAL ACTIVATION, FROM HIP TO SHOULDER, WHEREAS THE CRUNCH IS AN ISOLATED MOVE THAT HITS JUST YOUR ABS.”
Planks have many overall health benefits beyond toning your abs, they also help reduce back pain, improve your mood, and increase your flexibility. Because they engage several muscle groups simultaneously, planks can be a bit of a challenge at first. Luckily, this 28-day plank challenge will ease you into core work and have your tummy flatter and posture improved in no time!
Try This If You Can’t Do a Plank
If you’re not quite ready to jump right in to planking, don’t worry!
This video from Coach Tulin shows you how to work your way up to a full plank by using these modified training steps to learn how to engage your core muscles first.
MODIFIED PLANK FOR BEGINNERS:
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The 28 Day Plank Challenge
This 28 day challenge gradually increases the time you will hold your body in the plank position each day. By the end of the challenge, your goal is to be able to hold the plank for 4 minutes straight.
The first and most important part of doing this plank challenge is to make sure you’re doing it correctly. This instructional clip from Scott Herman Fitness shows you how to do a proper plank.
DAY 1 – 20 SECONDS
DAY 2 – 20 SECONDS
DAY 3 – 30 SECONDS
DAY 4 – 30 SECONDS
DAY 5 – 40 SECONDS
DAY 6 – REST
DAY 7 – 45 SECONDS
DAY 8 – 45 SECONDS
DAY 9 – 60 SECONDS
DAY 10 – 60 SECONDS
DAY 11 – 60 SECONDS
DAY 12 – 90 SECONDS
DAY 13 – REST
DAY 14 – 90 SECONDS
DAY 15 – 90 SECONDS
DAY 16 – 120 SECONDS
DAY 17 – 120 SECONDS
DAY 18 – 150 SECONDS
DAY 19 – REST
DAY 20 – 150 SECONDS
DAY 21 – 150 SECONDS
DAY 22 – 180 SECONDS
DAY 23 – 180 SECONDS
DAY 24 – 210 SECONDS
DAY 25 – REST
DAY 26 – 210 SECONDS
DAY 27 – 240 SECONDS
DAY 28 – Hold as long as possible
A quick note from our founder-
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