Sometimes it can be challenging to fit exercise into your daily routine. This can end up making you exhausted, with a huge belly. Thanks to the 28-day plank challenge, you only need to set aside 2 to 4 minutes of exercise to blast that fatigue and belly fat every day.
The 28-day plank challenge consists of detailed and simple exercises that only last for a few minutes. This means that it can fit any of your schedules, even on your busiest days!
Here is what you need to know about the 28-day plank challenge chart, results, tips, and much more.
What Is A Plank?
A plank is an isometric exercise that requires you to use core stabilizers to maintain your spinal and body alignment.
Visually, a plank exercise is a bridge supported by your forearms and toes. A straight line is maintained from the heels to the shoulders.
It is present in nearly every fitness program. This is because they work most of your fundamental muscle groups and your core (9).
Does The 28-Day Plank Challenge Work?
Planks are the most effective exercises for your core. They work on various muscles at the same time. If you follow your 28-day schedule correctly, then you should see a change.
Here are some of the 28-day plank challenge results you should expect:
You will have a stable and strong core. This will assist you in your everyday movements, such as bending over and turning.
If you are an athlete, then the stability of your core is critical. You need a stable core from performing movements such as hitting a golf ball to swinging a baseball bat (11).
Reduced Back Pain
A strong core will have a proper alignment of the spine. This can go a long way in reducing back injuries and pain.
If you live with back pains, then this challenge can significantly help you.
A 2017 research involving 120 subjects with non-specific low-back pain had significant findings. Scientists found out that six weeks of exercises dedicated to stabilizing the core was more effective than physical therapy training (4).
However, the findings do not mean that if you have back pain or injuries, you should try planks. Be sure to talk to your doctor before engaging in this challenge.
Strengthened Core And Back
As earlier mentioned, planks activate all your core muscles. The exercise works on the following core muscles:
- Rectus abdominis
- Transverse abdominis
Small research consisting of 20 subjects found that core drills that engage the distal trunk muscles, such as planks, are more effective in strengthening your core and ab muscles.
The study also concluded that plunks are more effective than crunches in maintaining mobility and improving balance (1).
This challenge involves increasing the amount of time you can hold your plank every day. Hence, your body will build up endurance.
Endurance is an essential factor in increasing your stamina, as it tones and strengthens your muscles.
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Is The 28 Day Plank Challenge Safe?
Yes. The challenge is safe as long as you adhere to all the precautions and safety tips.
Here are some tips for your safety while doing the drills:
- Consult your doctor if you have any cardiovascular conditions before changing your routine.
- If you experience any back pain or injury, see your doctor before doing any of these drills.
- You should only engage your core to prevent your back from sustaining injuries or getting strained.
- Keep your body parallel to the floor, from your head to the heels. Your back should not be raised. It should be flat. Also, your butt should be down and not piking upwards.
- Have your emphasis on quality over quantity. If you are tired or your form feels compromised, stop and complete your time for the day (5).
How To Start The 28 Day Plank Challenge For Beginners?
Planks do not require any equipment. They can be done anywhere, including your office, bedroom, living room, but not in the washrooms, of course. Here are a few tips to get you started:
Start By Adding Planks To Your Daily Routine
First, squeeze this challenge into your daily routine. You only need to set aside less than three minutes every day to take the exercise.
Choose the appropriate time when you have few to no distractions. You do not want to get distracted when you are in the middle of your session.
Lastly, choose the right place you will be taking your planks from. This can be your office, bedroom, or anywhere else. But remember not to take this challenge in public spaces, as people will look at you awkwardly (8).
Know How To Do A Plank
Before you get started, you have to make sure you can at least perform a plank correctly. Use the steps below to try a straight arm or high plank:
- Get into a position similar to that of a pushup.
- If you want to do a high plank, then make sure your hands are fully extended. Since you are a beginner, you can start by doing the plank on your knees. More advanced bodybuilders can try a plank on their forearms.
- You should keep your toes and palms planted firmly on the ground. Your back should be straight and core a little bit light.
- Your body should form a straight line while you are in this position. So do not let your head or back sag.
- Hold on to the plank position for some predetermined seconds. If you get exhausted, drop to your knees. You can return to the position again when you are ready (7).
Conduct A Fitness Test
You should test your current strength with a plank test before beginning the challenge. This test will give you an idea of where you should get started. The results will help you plan your sessions.
For instance, if you can hold a plank for 60 seconds. Then your base should be 60 seconds. You should increase the seconds gradually every day so that you can challenge your muscles.
To conduct the test:
- Have a friend with a stopwatch or you can also time yourself;
- Get into the plank position;
- Hold it for as long as you can; and
- Stop the test when you cannot hold it anymore (10).
Have Several Plank Varieties In Your Schedule
The basic plank is a great place to start your fitness journey. However, you can reap more benefits if you try a new challenging variation. These variations will draw you closer to a six-pack.
You can try any of the following:
Forearm To Full Plank
Transitioning from a forearm to a full plank is a great way to progress your sessions. Follow the steps below:
- Get down on the floor;
- Place your forearms under your shoulders;
- Make sure your hands are extended and your body is lengthened;
- Ensure you engage your triceps, glutes, abs, and tuck your tailbone. This will prevent your spinal cord from arching;
- Lift your knees and tuck your toes so that your body is parallel to the floor;
- Straighten one arm at a time as you lift your body to the full plank position; and
- Try the movement slowly. You can pick up your pace once you master it (6).
Side planks involve lying on one side. Use the steps below to do them:
- Lie on any side;
- Ensure that your elbow is underneath your shoulder;
- Your arm should be flat;
- Stack up your legs and raise your hips;
- Place the other hand on your hip; and
- Raise the hand towards the ceiling and squeeze your glutted for as long as you can.
You can make this exercise a little bit challenging by raising and lowering your hips.
This drill will strengthen your upper and lower body muscles as well as your core. Follow the step below to do it:
- Start in the full plank position, where your hands will be directly under your shoulders;
- Activate your abs and glutes to prevent injuries and for maximum benefit;
- Begin to move your right-hand foot to the right;
- Lift the left-hand foot to the center and return to the original position; and
- Do five reps on the left and five on the right (2).
This is a full-body exercise and targets your glutes, hamstrings, obliques, triceps, shoulders, and abs. To make this move more challenging, use a foam roller instead of a mat. Follow the steps below:
- Sit tall with your legs extended long;
- Place your hands behind you on a mat or a foam roller;
- Engage your core, arms, and core to list your hips;
- Form a straight line from your heels to shoulders;
- Do not let your hips sag. You should also not lift them too high;
- Your shoulders should be down and away from your ears;
- Stop here if you are a beginner;
- You can continue to challenge yourself by doing a triceps dip. You only need to bend your arms so that your elbows point backward; and
- If you want a more significant challenge, add a leg raise. You can do so by holding your plank position and kicking any leg towards the ceiling. Make sure you return the leg to the floor with control (4).
This plank will improve your balance. Use the steps below to take it:
- Adopt a classic plank position;
- Make sure your arms are straight, and you maintain a straight line from your shoulders to heels;
- Lift one hand off the ground;
- Use your legs and the other arm to balance;
- Lightly tap your shoulder;
- Return your hand to the ground;
- Repeat the procedure with the opposite arm; and
- Do ten taps for a start. Increase their number as you improve your balance (12).
Combine With Other Exercises And A Healthy Lifestyle
Performing the same drill over and over is quite boring. It may also cause your body to plateau and not get benefits in the long run.
Although you will be challenging yourself by increasing the time every day, you will reach a point where you will find planks are too easy for you. You will be bored with doing the same move every day.
There other exercises that can help you challenge your body and add more definition to your midsection. They include the following:
- Strength training
- High-intensity interval training (3)
Also, you need to change your eating and lifestyle in the following ways:
- Cut down on the consumption of processed foods
- Sleep adequately
- Eat fewer curbs
- Consume more proteins
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28-day Plank Challenge Calendar
Your plank challenge chart will be determined by the fitness test you carried out. If you could hold on to the plank position for like 60 seconds, then that will be your base.
Here is a sample 28-day schedule plan for beginners:
- 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 – As many seconds as you can
The Bottom Line
The 28-day plank challenge is good for you if you enjoy following a program and you also want to strengthen your core. Nonetheless, you are not likely to get a six-pack from planks alone. You need to go the extra mile of cutting processed foods, combining them with other drills, and so forth so that you can achieve your targets.
Check out this 20-min Full Body Workout at Home.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- A one-month workout routine to strengthen your core and relieve back pain (2020, nbcnews.com)
- Core Stability Training for Injury Prevention (2013, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Diet, exercise or diet with exercise: comparing the effectiveness of treatment options for weight-loss and changes in fitness for adults (18–65 years old) who are overfat, or obese; systematic review and meta-analysis (2015, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Effectiveness of core stabilization exercises and routine exercise therapy in management of pain in chronic non-specific low back pain: A randomized controlled clinical trial (2017, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- How often to work out for health, strength, and weight loss (2021, medicalnewstoday.com)
- How to Do a Forearm Plank (nd, nytimes.com)
- How to do the perfect plank (2017, theguardian.com)
- How to do the plank correctly to build strength and stability (2019, theguardian.com)
- Plank (nd, nytimes.com)
- Seven DIY fitness tests (2006, theguardian.com)
- The best way to train to improve muscular endurance (2021, medicalnewstoday.com)
- The effects of shoulder stabilization exercises and pectoralis minor stretching on balance and maximal shoulder muscle strength of healthy young adults with round shoulder posture (2018, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)