United States
Skip navigation links

Sculpt Your Core With The Plank Challenge

Back in January 2015, Daniel Malik, a sports scientist from Austria, put up a post on his Facebook page inviting his friends to take part in a “30-day plank challenge.” The idea went viral, and the final number of participants stood at over half a million. They planked alone at home or together with others in the office or in the gym. The surprising success of this challenge served only to reinforce yet further the plank’s status as a favorite among fitness fanatics.

The benefits of planking

A plank is a bodyweight exercise which stabilizes and strengthens the whole body, and which can be performed anywhere and at any time. By holding yourself up on your forearms, your tone not only your abs, arm, and leg muscles, but also your hip and glute muscles, and in particular the muscles in your lower torso and back. Regular planking is a great way to prevent back problems and makes you less prone to sports injuries because of the stabilizing effect on the entire body, in particular, the torso. Your posture will also improve noticeably.

Work your core correctly: how to plank properly

Form is particularly important when you’re planking. Here’s how you should be doing it. Get into a push-up position, and place your forearms on the floor at shoulder width (elbows in line with your shoulders). Stretch out your legs and balance on your toes. Don’t let your body sag — make sure that it is as strong and straight as a plank. Keep the glutes and abs contracted, and your head in a neutral spine position. Look downwards. Keep your body stable in this position; don’t sink into your back, don’t lift your butt, and don’t raise your head. Hold the position for several seconds.

Motivating and fun: the 30-day plank challenge

The 30-day plank challenge is the perfect introduction to planking for anyone who’d like to try out this trend. Over the course of 30 days, you’ll build up from planking for 20 seconds to holding a plank for four and a half minutes — or even more! Here’s what you should do:

Plank challenge
Week 1
Plank challenge
Week 2
Plank challenge
Week 3
Plank challenge
Week 4
Plank challenge
Finishing strong
Day 1: 20 seconds Day 8: 45 seconds Day 15: 90 seconds Day 22: 180 seconds Day 29: 270 seconds
Day 2: 20 seconds Day 9: 60 seconds Day 16: 120 seconds Day 23: 180 seconds Day 30: as long as possible
Day 3: 30 seconds Day 10: 60 seconds Day 17: 120 seconds Day 24: 210 seconds
Day 4: 30 seconds Day 11: 60 seconds Day 18: 150 seconds Day 25: 210 seconds
Day 5: 40 seconds Day 12: 90 seconds Day 19: rest day Day 26: rest day
Day 6: rest day Day 13: rest day Day 20: 150 seconds Day 27: 240 seconds
Day 7: 45 seconds Day 14: 90 seconds Day 21: 150 seconds Day 28: 240 seconds

The pluses of the plank challenge

The plank challenge is not a magic fitness bullet, and is not enough on its own to give you a fit and shredded body. But that’s not the point. Instead, the idea is to tackle a small challenge every day. To push beyond your limits on a daily basis, and to get better gradually, step by step. When I tried it out for myself, I found that holding the plank position was incredibly taxing — particularly at the start, when my body was still getting used to it, and towards the end, when I was holding the position for minutes at a time. Yet I also had a blast achieving these daily challenges. Experiencing wins of this kind is good for the soul, and I got to do it for 30 days in a row. It doesn’t get more motivating than that! And it made the short-lived ordeal more than worth it.

Variations for advanced plankers

If you’ve got to the stage that the standard plank is no longer enough of a challenge, you can ratchet up the intensity by trying these variations.

High plank:

The high plank follows the same principle as the low plank. You simply support yourself on your hands in a push-up position rather than lowering yourself to your forearms.

Side plank:

Zero in on your obliques by lying down on your left-hand side, supporting yourself with your left forearm. Rest your right arm on your hip. Contract your abs, legs, and glutes, lift your hips, and position your body in a straight line. Hold, and then swap sides.

Plank rotations:

A dynamic variation on the side plank. Instead of placing your free arm on your hip, start by stretching it straight upwards while planking. In a flowing movement, rotate your upper body towards the floor and “thread the needle” by reaching your top hand through the gap between your body and the floor. Rotate back to the side plank position, and stretch your arm upwards again.

I’ve developed something of an addiction to fitness challenges. Are you a fellow addict? Here are two other 30-day challenges which will force you to dig deeper on a daily basis. Have fun!

The 30-day squat challenge

Squats are particularly good for the legs and glutes.

Squat challenge
Week 1
Squat challenge
Week 2
Squat challenge
Week 3
Squat challenge
Week 4
Squat challenge
Finishing strong
Day 1: 50 reps Day 8: 80 reps Day 15: 135 reps Day 22: 170 reps Day 29: 210 reps
Day 2: 55 reps Day 9: rest day Day 16: 140 reps Day 23: 175 reps Day 30: as many reps as possible
Day 3: 60 reps Day 10: 100 reps Day 17: rest day Day 24: 180 reps
Day 4: 65 reps Day 11: 105 reps Day 18: 150 reps Day 25: rest day
Day 5: rest day Day 12: 110 reps Day 19: 150 reps Day 26: 190 reps
Day 6: 70 reps Day 13: rest day!! Day 20: 160 reps Day 27: 195 reps
Day 7: 75 reps Day 14: 130 reps Day 21: rest day Day 28: 200 reps

The 30-day burpee challenge

Burpees (squat, jump back, push-up, jump forward, jump up, repeat) work the entire body.

Burpee challenge
Week 1
Burpee challenge
Week 2
Burpee challenge
Week 3
Burpee challenge
Week 4
Burpee challenge
Finishing strong
Day 1: 5 reps Day 8: 30 reps Day 15: rest day Day 22: 70 reps Day 29: 95 reps
Day 2: 10 reps Day 9: 35 reps Day 16: 50 reps Day 23: 75 reps Day 30: 100 reps
Day 3: 15 reps Day 10: rest day Day 17: 55 reps Day 24: 80 reps
Day 4: 20 reps Day 11: 35 reps Day 18: 60 reps Day 25: rest day
Day 5: rest day Day 12: 40 reps Day 19: 65 reps Day 26: 80 reps
Day 6: 20 reps Day 13: 45 reps Day 20: rest day Day 27: 85 reps
Day 7: 25 reps Day 14: 50 reps Day 21: 65 reps Day 28: 90 reps

About Nicole Benke


Nicole Benke (37) is a food journalist who loves good food and whipping up tasty meals from seasonal produce. She doesn’t rate crash diets at all. She believes that clean eating should be fun rather than a chore and that nothing should be off-limits. Banning foods leads to the forbidden fruit effect. And is a guaranteed mood killer.

The information provided through our blog or e-mails is not intended to be and is not a substitute for, professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment that can be provided by your own health care professional.  Garmin is not attempting to diagnose, treat or cure any physical ailment, or any mental or emotional issue, disease or condition. Our blogs are intended to help you reach your own health and wellness goals.

Share.