Ah, the plank. One of those exercises that looks so sedate and simple, but soon has every muscle in your body shaking like a jelly on a washing machine.
Hard to believe just hanging around in a static position can be such a good workout, but a decent dose of planking will tone those abs, strengthen your core, and work your shoulders, arms, lower back and legs – in fact, it's great for pretty much every major muscle group in your body.
Planking can also improve your posture, and building a strong core can help keep you injury free when you're performing other sports, or just going about everyday life. Nifty little exercise this one, and it requires no equipment whatsoever.
The 30-day plank challenge
Once you’ve mastered a basic plank (hints and tips below) you’re ready to tackle our 30-day plank challenge.
The idea is to try and complete as much of the planking time in one go as possible, but you can split it up throughout the day if you're unable to hold it for that long – so 60 secs could become 2 x 30 second planks, for example.
Gather your friends together and get them to take on the challenge with you, that way you can encourage and support each other – and you've got someone to have a 'plank off' with at the end of the month.
How to perform the perfect plank
- Get into a press up position with your elbows under your shoulder, and forearms parallel.
- Keep your body in a straight line and suck in your belly button to activate your core.
- If you're finding this too difficult, an easier option is to do a plank with your knees on the ground.
- If you find your form going at any point, or your lower back dipping, take a break or, if you're in a full plank, lower your knees to the floor.