Challenges are fun. If we don’t have challenges in life, particularly when it comes to exercise, we very quickly reach plateaus where we neither grow nor progress. When it comes to exercise, as with most things in life, the simplest things are often the best (and most effective). I have previously posted about the benefits of Burpees (here), and today’s featured exercise is equally as easy, and doesn’t require expensive equipment or a gym membership.
Most people are aware of the plank, but if you have been living under a rock, here are the basics: the plank is the perfect whole body toning exercise. It strengthens the core, obliques, hips, back, legs and arms. Many people, particularly those starting out with this exercise, experience the shakes. Don’t let this deter you, this simply means that it is difficult, and that your body is being pushed and challenged. This is a good thing. Keep at it.
To ensure you are performing this exercise correctly, here are a few tips:
- Start in the push up position. From here, slowly lower your forearms to the ground.
- Ensure that your elbows are lined up under your shoulders.
- All throughout the exercise, check that your abs and glutes are tight and lifted. Don’t allow your core or butt to drop (or rise too much) during this exercise.
It helps if you can see yourself side-on in a mirror while you are holding your plank, as you can then re-adjust your position if need be.
Here comes the good part: the challenge. Start a series of plank exercises for 30 days, following the below guide. This is neither arduous, nor time consuming, and can be done from the comfort of your own home.
Days 1 to 3
20-second front plank, 15-second side plank (1 each side)
Days 4 to 7
30-second front plank, 20-second side plank
Days 8 to 10
40-second front plank, 25 second side plank
Days 11 to 13
45-second front plank, 30-second side plank
Days 14 to 16
50-second front plank, 35-second side plank
Days 17 to 19
1 minute front plank, 40-second side plank
Days 20 to 22
1:10 minute front plank, 45-second side plank
Days 23 to 25
1:20 minute front plank, 50-second side plank
Days 26 to 28
1:30 minute front plank, 55-second side plank
Days 29 and 30
1:45 minute plank, 1-minute side plank.
At the end of the 30 days, assess your body and see how much you have toned up. Your core strength will be greatly improved and your middle section more defined. Again, this is something so simple that can be done each and every day, and as you can see, takes minimal time out of your day. Commit to 30 days, starting now!