Planking exercise for abs

Planking Exercise | Plank Challenge

Planking Exercise | Plank Challenge

Plank Abs exercise demonstration

Planking exercise has become all the rage, and for good reason!  This challenging movement is at the core of a healthy, fitbody!  With just the right balance of abdominal engagement and upper body strengthening most fitness experts agree that the plank is one of the top full body exercises.  Ready for a real test?  One you have proper plank form down, give my Plank Challenge a try!

Planking Muscles | What muscles do you use in a plank?

One of my favorite things about planking is the vast number of muscles the movement uses which means the thermogenic effect is increased.  While the primary muscles used are the within the abdominal wall like the rectus abdominis and the transverse abdominis, plank exercise also uses the opposing erector spinea.  But, the beautiful thing about these push up position holds is that they recruit a variety of secondary support muscles like the trapezius, rhomboids, delt muscles, pectoral muscles, glutes, quads and calves.  That is some serious full body muscle engagement!

Correct Planking Form

Planking can go by many names… Front Hold, a Hover or an Abdominal Bridge… but this deceptively easy movement is an isometric contraction at heart and relies on excellent form to be effective.

  • Place your hands on the floor immediately under your shoulders.  You will have correct planking form when you feel as if you are about to do a pushup.
  • Press your toes to the ground and contract both the quads and gluteus to tighten your whole body.  Tense your core and full abs throughout the movement.
  • With your correct planking form, there should be a straight line from your shoulders down through your heels.  This can be done by ensuring that your hips are not rising too far up in the air nor dipping close to the ground.
  • To keep your head in line with your body, gaze about 12 inches out in front of your hands.

How long to hold a Planking Exercise?

How long you hold your plank will really depend on your full body strength.  I recommend beginning with 20 seconds if possible and working up to 1 minute or even 2 minutes if you are up for a serious planking challenge.

Variations of the Plank | Plank Variations

Plank Exercise Benefits

If you are considering adding planks into your workout routine, you will be glad to know that there are many benefits to this isometric exercise.  Improvements in overall strength from head to toe along with increased endurance are most notable. And if you want an awesome ab workout, then you can hardly do better.

Plank Challenge

Plank Challenge

If you want a really rocking strong core and six pack abs then you will definitely want to take part in my 7 Day Plank Challenge!  With this challenge, we will be incorporating planking exercises 4-5 times per week and building up strength.  As you get stronger and build your endurance, you are going to be surprised how much longer you can hold that plank position.

The challenge… every day for 7 days spend 2 – 10 minute sessions working on your plank holds as lined out below.  Begin day one with your planking exercise test.  Get into proper position and see how long you can hold that plank position.  Then, twice a day, complete the following plank exercises.

Plank Challenge Day One (complete in the am and in the pm):

  • Forearm Plank (5 sets, 15 seconds each)
  • Side Plank Pulses (5 sets of 15 pulses on each side)
  • Three sets of Extended Plank for 30 seconds each alternate lifting one leg every 5 seconds.

Plank Challenge Day Two (complete in the am and in the pm)

  • 30 Hand to Elbow Planks (15 leading with the right arm, 15 leading with the left arm)

Plank Challenge Day Three (complete in the am and in the pm)

  • Full Plank Hold on Hands (5 sets, 20 seconds each, rest 20 seconds between sets.)
  • Three sets of Plank Rocks for 30 seconds each

Plank Challenge Day Four

  • In the am, over a 10 min period, attempt 3 max holds of a full plank hold.  Rest at least 2-3 mins between each attempt.
  • In the pm, alternate 10 butterfly sit-ups and 5 hand release pushups until you reach 100 sit-ups and 50 pushups. 

Plank Challenge Day Five (complete in the am and in the pm)

  • Forearm Plank (5 sets, 15 seconds each)
  • Side Plank Pulses (5 sets of 15 pulses on each side)
  • Three sets of Extended Plank for 30 seconds each alternate lifting one leg every 5 seconds.

Plank Challenge Day Six (complete in the am and in the pm)

  • Forearm Plank Holds (5 sets, 30 seconds each, rest 30 seconds between sets.)
  • Three sets of Plank Rocks for 30 seconds each

Plank ChallengDay Seven

  • Begin day seven of this plank challenge by testing your max planking exercise hold.  Get into position as you did on Day One and hold that full plank as long as possible.  Be sure to stop your time if your hips drop or rise out of that straight position.
  • In the pm, alternate 10 butterfly sit-ups and 5 hand release pushups until you reach 100 sit-ups and 50 pushups.

Congratulations, you did it!  You completed my 7 Day Planking Challenge.

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