A couple of years ago, the plank challenge was all the rage on social media with everyone claiming how good this workout was. While the world seems to have moved on from this trend, the benefits of planks still reign supreme. If you are tired of drooling over all those strong beautiful cores and abs on your Instagram/TikTok feed and would like to start working on yours, then the 30-day plank challenge for beginners is the best place to start.
In this article, we are going to tell you the benefits of this workout and show you how to do a basic plank as well as more variations that will help keep the 30-day plank challenge for beginners men and women fun and fresh throughout the month so you do not end up bored and give up.
What Are The Benefits Of A 30-Day Plank Challenge For Beginners?
If you are not sure if you should commit yourself to the 30-day plank challenge for women beginners and men, here are some benefits of this exercise that might change your mind and make you hop on the bandwagon (1):
While abs may not be everyone’s ultimate goal, they are certainly the goal for many others. Even if you will not end up having a six pack at the end of your 30 day challenge, you will have built and strengthened your core muscles and well on your way to this goal. These exercises are great for abs because they work all the muscles in your core, including the rectus abdominis (the “six-pack muscles” you can see), transverse abdominis (your deepest abs muscles), internal and external obliques (your sides), hips, and back muscle which are a part of your core (5).
It Is A Full-Body Workout
What many fail to realize is that this workout, in whatever variation, exercises more than just your core. Because you are using your hands to hold yourself up, you end up working the muscles in your biceps, shoulders, and arms making them more toned and developed. If you hold the correct posture during this workout, you are also able to workout and build the muscles in your neck, glutes, and thighs, easily making the 30-day plank challenge for beginners, an everyday full body workout.
Strengthens Your Spine And Back Muscles
Popular workouts such as squats, pushups, glute bridges, lunges, and pull-ups are some of the popular workouts that can lead to back injuries if not done correctly (3). These exercises help build the muscles in your back and hips, giving you a stronger support base for such workouts.
Boosts Your Metabolism
Through planking on the 30-day plank challenge for beginners you are challenging your body and muscles which helps your burn calories during the workout. This, however, does not stop once the workout is over; because planking engages and helps build muscle, it boosts your Basal Metabolic Rate meaning that you continue burning calories even at rest (2).
Helps Improve Your Posture
Because this workout strengthens your back, chest, shoulders, neck, and abs, it makes it easier to keep your shoulders back and your lower back in a neutral position while sitting or standing – two vital components of good posture.
Improves Your Balance
As previously stated this 30-day plank challenge for women beginners and men will workout your core muscles and improve your posture. A good posture and strong core muscles help your body hold its own weight and carry itself with proper balance.
Can Have A Positive Impact On Your Mental Health
According to a 2018 review, exercise does not only reduce the risk of all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and diabetes, but it also has incredible benefits for mental health. At the study, researchers found that the individuals who exercised had 43·2 percent fewer days of poor mental health in the past month than individuals who did not exercise (4).
How Long Should I Plank?
The answer varies from one person to another.
According to one spine specialist, you should only hold a plank for 10-second intervals. According to the doctor, holding the position for too long could lead to back and spinal injuries. On the other hand, some believe that you should try holding the position for 30 seconds to a minute, and others say that the maximum show of fitness is being able to hold this position for no more than two minutes in one go (8).
So what is the consensus? We would advise that while on the 30-day challenge for women beginners and men, you should try holding each plank position for intervals of 20 seconds or 30 seconds at most (8, 7) – you can increase it to a full minute for a more challenging workout. If this feels too tiring reduce it to 10 seconds per interval and gradually increase your time to challenge yourself even more.
If you can, make sure to do 3 sets of each of your chosen variations.
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What Is The Easiest Plank For Beginners?
When we think about starting this challenge, many of us will automatically try the basic variation either on our elbows or stretched arms with the legs straightened out behind us. If you have tried either of these versions and find yourself struggling, try the version below that is considered easier:
- Begin in a prone position supporting yourself on bent knees and palms with extended arms and soft elbows (don’t lock the elbows).
- Slightly shift your weight forward and ensure that your body is in a straight line from your ears to your knees.
- Remember to breath and keep your core engaged by pulling your navel to your spine.
- Hold this position for 10 to 30 seconds.
This variation is said to not only be good for beginners but also for people who may have some back problems as it puts less stress on your lower back.
How To Do A Plank Properly?
If you have already mastered the kneeling variation or you feel that it is a little too easy for you, then you can switch to the standard plank, also known as the push-up or high plank. Here is how to do it:
- Start down on all fours, making sure that your hands are fully extended and slightly wider than shoulder width apart.
- Extend at the kegs and come up to your toes as though you are about to do a push-up. Ground your toes into the ground and squeeze your glutes for better stability.
- Engage your core and ensure that your body is in a straight line from your neck to your heels. Do not sag at the midsection, lift your butt into an arch, or look straight down at the floor – try looking at a spot about a foot from where your hands are.
- Keep breathing and hold this basic position for about 20 to 30 seconds.
Other Plank Variations To Add To Your 30-Day Plank Challenge For Beginners
Also known as the elbow plank, it is done in the same way as the high or standard variation but instead of balancing yourself on outstretched hands, you hold yourself up on your elbows and forearms.
- Begin by lying on your right side, with the legs extended and stacked from hip to feet.
- Place your right elbow directly under your shoulder and ensure your head is directly in line with your spine. Keep your left arm aligned along the left side of your body.
- Engage your abdominal muscles, drawing your navel toward your spine and keep breathing.
- On an exhale, slowly and steadily lift your hips and knees from the mat. Stop once your torso is straight in line with no sagging or bending.
- Hold this position for 10, 20, or 30 seconds – or as long as you can before returning to the start position on the mat.
- Change sides and do the same on the other side.
If you want to make this variation more challenging, lift the arm not holding you up to the ceiling.
Elbow Planks With Knee Tap
- Begin in a low plank position with your hands directly below your shoulders, your core engaged and your body in a straight line from your head to your heels.
- Slowly lower and tap your left knee to the ground without moving your hips. Lift your left knee back up, returning to the starting position.
- Repeat the same movement with the right leg. This one rep.
- Do this for 10 reps or set an alarm and do as many as you can in 20 to 30 seconds.
Planks With Shoulder Taps
- Begin in the standard position – with arms shoulder-width apart and outstretched beneath you, core engaged, and your body in a straight line from head to heels.
- Keeping your hips square and in position, working hard not to let them sway side to side, lift your right hand to tap your left shoulder. Bring it down and then lift your left hand to tap your right shoulder.
- Make sure that you are well balanced so you do not fall over while lifting one hand.
Knee To Elbow Plank
- Begin in the top of a push-up position with hands directly beneath your shoulders.
- Tighten your core and bring the right knee to the outside of the right elbow. Pause here for a moment before straightening the leg back behind you.
- Switch to the left knee and repeat the movement. Do this for 20 to 30 seconds. You can push it for a minute if you feel able.
Plank Hip Dips
- Begin in a low/elbow plank position. Slowly rotate the spine to lower your left hip to just above the floor – about 1 or two inches above the floor. Hold this position for a minute and then rotate back to the starting position.
- Rotate your spine again and now lower your right hip. Get back to the starting position and repeat the whole process all over again.
- Do this for 20 to 30 seconds.
Plank Up Downs
- Begin in a standard high plank/push-up position. Lower your right elbow to the mat and then your left, coming into an elbow plank.
- Put your right hand on the mat, and straighten your right elbow. Do the same on the left to return to a full plank.
- Continue doing this for up to 30 seconds – or more depending on how winded you are.
How Many Planks A Day To See Results?
There really isn’t a given number on how many planks you should do a day to see results. However, as previously stated, the cut off point for holding the position is two minutes (6). If you break up these two minutes into intervals that can be done throughout the day, you can do anywhere from 4 to 10 different variations in a day.
|1||Hold a basic plank for as long as possible and ensure to maintain good form||16||30 seconds knee to elbow + 30 seconds side planks|
|2||20 seconds standard + 20 seconds low/elbow planks||17||30 seconds planks with shoulder taps + 30 seconds knee to elbow|
|3||30 seconds elbow plank + 20 seconds side plank||18||30 seconds side planks + 30 seconds hip dip|
|4||20 seconds high + 20 seconds side planks||19||30 seconds planks with shoulder taps + 30 seconds up-downs|
|5||20 seconds high + 10 second low + 10 seconds side planks||20 & 21||Rest days|
|6 & 7||Rest days. Let your body and muscles recover||22||30 seconds basic + 30 seconds knee to elbow planks|
|8||30 seconds high + 20 seconds up-downs planks||23||30 seconds with knee taps + 30 seconds elbow planks|
|9||30 seconds low + 20 seconds planks with knee taps||24||30 seconds plank with shoulder taps + 30 seconds plank hip dips|
|10||30 seconds side + 20 seconds hip dip planks||25||30 seconds up downs + 30 seconds high plank with shoulder taps|
|11||10 seconds basic + 20 second low + 30 second side planks||26||10 seconds low + 20 seconds side + 30 seconds up down planks|
|12||30 seconds side + 30 seconds up-downs planks||27 & 28||Rest days|
|13 & 14||Rest days||29||20 seconds basic + 20 seconds low + 20 seconds knee to elbow planks|
|15||30 seconds elbow planks + 30 seconds with knee taps||30||20 seconds side + 20 seconds hip dips + 20 seconds with shoulder taps|
Can You Do A 30-Day Side Plank Challenge?
Yes, you can. However, it is important to note that since there aren’t many side variations of this workout and so, you might get bored of doing the same workout over and over again. Instead of looking for a 30-day side plank challenge chart for beginners, try incorporating more side planks into the above 30-day plank challenge chart for beginners.
How To Make The 30-Day Plank Challenge For Beginners Even More Challenging
Say you have been doing the challenge for two weeks now and the challenge has stopped feeling as challenging as it was, what can you do to ensure that you keep challenging yourself?
- Add an incline. Placing your feet on a footstool, box step or staircase step raises your feet slightly higher than your shoulders and makes your body work harder to maintain stability. This makes your muscles work harder thus burning more calories.
- Add a medicine ball to your routine. If the added incline just isn’t working for you, try using a medicine ball to challenge your stability even further. Plank variations such as the jackknife, stir the pot, and the Spiderman can be used with a medicine ball for a more challenging stability and core workout experience.
- Add some resistance. Weighted workouts always burn more calories than only sticking to body weight. Challenge yourself by using some resistance bands, dumbbells, or even a kettlebell where applicable. If you do not want to have something in your hands, carrying a full backpack can also work as weights.
The Bottom Line
The 30-day plank challenge for beginners is a great idea for anyone who would like to start working out and strengthen their core. However, it is important to note that this form of exercise alone is not enough to help you lose weight or finally get those abs. To achieve these things you must fix your diet by consuming healthier, more nutritious foods and add more exercises into your routine. Do some cardio and include more body weight or weighted workouts in your everyday workout plans.
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. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any medical conditions. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day (2021, lifehack.org)
- 7 Ways to Speed Up Your Metabolism (2017, everydayhealth.com)
- 10 Popular Exercises That Can Hurt Your Back (2019, livestrong.com)
- Association between physical exercise and mental health in 1·2 million individuals in the USA between 2011 and 2015: a cross-sectional study (2018, thelancet.com)
- Core Anatomy: Muscles of the Core (2013, acefitness.org)
- Straight talk on planking (2019, health.harvard.edu)
- This Is How Long You Really Need To Hold A Plank To See Results (2017, womenshealthmag.com)
- This Is How Long You Should Be Holding the Plank (2019, menshealth.com)