Are you tired of doing crunches with little in the way of results? Does it seem like your back hurts more than your abs during a sit-up session? Well, maybe it’s time you upgraded to a better core exercise; enter the plank.
Nearly all people who live a fit and healthy lifestyle know what a plank is. It’s the ultimate full-body pose: which tones your butt, legs, back, arms, and of course, your abs. But the major drawback with planks are how difficult they are to do for beginners.
Holding a plank position is one of those things that takes a good bit of time to be able to do well. You must build your core, leg, and arm strength to hold it for long periods of time. Obviously, this is done through practice. Which is why so many fail at mastering it; it’s hard to do so they quit.
What you need to do to keep from giving up and actually master the plank, is to incorporate them into your workout routine. But it if you really want to speed up the process, turn performing planks into its own workout routine. Not sure how to do that? Don’t worry, we got you covered.
Here’s a good routine you can add as, or addition to your current workout plan. For each week in this plan, you’ll start a plank challenge and repeat it until you have mastered it. Once you knock out one challenge, you’ll move onto the next one. You can practice this at your own pace and skill level, but be sure to work each day and continually progress every week.
Week One: Fixing Your Form
During the first week, we’re going to focus on fixing your plank form. This is done so you not only get the most out of the position, but also to make sure you’ll be performing the move properly when it gets more challenging in the following weeks.
The most important aspect to doing a proper plank is to make sure your body forms a straight line—head to heels. You’ll need to keep your core, legs, and glutes tight while you hold the position. This handy video below will better show you how to fix your form and perform a proper plank.
For the first week, you want to work on your form and start by holding the position for 20 to 30 seconds at a time. If this isn’t challenging enough, you can go for longer, but make sure you’re really squeezing your glutes and keeping your core tight while you hold the position. Take 30 seconds to one minute rest between sets.
It’s recommended you use a timer for this rather than counting seconds in your head. This is because you want to be accurate as possible in knowing how long you’re holding the position. As we said before, you can add planks to the ends of your workouts, or perform them as their own workout. Either way, aim for ten total minutes of holding the plank for every workout (you can do planks every day, but three to four times during the first week should be more than sufficient). This will greatly improve your core.
Week Two: Boosting Your Endurance
By the second week, you should already be able to maintain a plank for at least 30 seconds. But if you can’t just yet, don’t worry; practice makes perfect. You’ll be kicking things up a bit during this second week in the form of adding time, so you‘ll get where you want to be in no time. The important thing is to stick to the plan and don’t quit.
To boost your endurance (in the form of how long you can hold a plank) you’ll start each workout with a 30-second plank. After the 30 seconds, go into the Downward Dog position for five seconds to relax your core muscles.
After the micro-rest, go back into the plank and try to hold it for 45 seconds this time. Follow this set with another five-second downward dog pose, then go back into the plank. This time only hold it for 15 to 30 seconds.
After another five-second rest, try for a whole minute in the plank position. Most likely your whole body will hurt after the minute (or however long you could hold the plank for). Now, you can take a one to two-minute rest. After the rest, repeat the whole process one more time (or more if you can handle it). Every plank workout during the second week will consist of building endurance in this manner. Ultimately leading to a tighter, stronger core.