The plank is an exercise in which the trunk of the body is held off the ground in a straight line resembling a wooden plank. It is considered the simplest and least time-consuming way of strengthening the “core” muscles in the body. But have you heard of the 28-day planking challenge?
The four-week challenge is a goal-oriented workout regime for those who wish to build up their core strength but do not have the time for a 30-45 minute full body workout each day. Although challenging, it is a project with an attainable goal even for those who are not exercising regularly. Although primarily affecting the appearance of the abdomen, your core also affects the back, glutes and thighs.
The advantage of this exercise is that it can be easily done at home because it doesn’t require any specialized gym equipment and relies purely on one’s ability to resist gravity in order to work the particular group of core muscles. Contrary to what the name suggests, the reason it is referred to as a “core” is not solely because many of its muscle groups are located at center mass of the body, but also because of how much those particular muscle groups affect one’s posture and spinal alignment (i.e the muscles which hold up the body at its core).
Building up your core can have a big impact on your overall fitness!
Since the core muscles help dictate a body’s posture and balance, their fitness impacts the overall fitness of a person. The state of your core influences anything from lifting heavy objects without putting an extra strain on your spine to deftly picking a fragile object from the top shelf without wobbling.
It will still take aerobic activity to burn fat, therefore it is recommended to mix the core training with other exercise activities for optimal results. For those going for a six-pack abdomen, you may want to add situps and crunches to the planking.
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Planking is the standard core exercise which engages all the core muscles. While it allows you to build and tone muscle and engage all the core muscle groups, it’s important to note that the very nature of the plank is to maintain your posture and give your spine and back some breathing space.
The plank will also help you build those lower back muscles you may be neglecting when you slouch throughout the day or at work, as well as shaping your glutes into a sexy backside. An added bonus is that planking actually stretches all the muscles you are working on, which means that you will begin to notice increased flexibility as you progress through the challenge.
According to Physical Living, this is how to hold the perfect plank:
1. Make sure that your arms are positioned correctly. Elbows should be directly under the shoulders to ensure proper weight distribution.
2. The spine should remain straight. Avoid rounding out your spine and putting unnecessary pressure on your neck and back.
3. Make sure to tighten your core so that it benefits from the exercise.
4. Keep your legs slightly spread. Pay attention to how your hips feel during the exercise. There should be no added pressure to the hip area. Adjust the distance between your feet as needed.
5. Your breathing should be slow and deliberate so that your core is fully engaged and your body is relaxed.
The 28-day planking challenge
Follow the plan below and work yourself up from twenty seconds to four minutes in four weeks. And remember: it’s healthy, it’s doable and the benefits will be totally worth it.
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