The plank exercise works the deep core muscles – the ones that pull the abdominal area in flat. They have to work hard to stabilise the body and hold it in a straight line when you do the plank. Holding the position correctly is hard work, which is why challenges are popular to gradually build strength. This challenge starts with a 10 second plank hold and works up to 100 seconds on day 30. The plank challenge printable is intended to be used as stickers, but you can use it as a whole sheet too.
To use as stickers, print onto a full page shipping label and then cut out with craft scissors or a craft knife. For those with a cutting machine, there’s also a blackout version of the sticker sheet for easy tracing.
How to do the challenge
Instructions for how to do the plank are below. Once you’re in the correct position, just hold for the time stated on the sticker each day.
Important note: the plank is a static exercise (i.e. one in which muscles are held in contraction). Static holds can cause an increase in blood pressure, so are not suitable for anyone who suffers from high blood pressure.
Please read these general exercise guidelines before you do the challenge
- Kneel on the floor
- Lean forwards and put your hands on the floor, making sure your shoulders are directly above your elbows
- Straighten one leg out behind you, with the toes on the floor
- Engage your core strongly and extend the other leg behind
- Your body should be making a straight line – if possible check in a mirror or ask someone else to check
- Now hold this position for the given time
- Then lower the knees to the floor and rest
Sign up for My Fitness Planner updates and get the plank challenge printable download
After you sign up, you’ll get 2 e-mails, one will have a link to your printable download and the other will be a welcome e-mail.
If the e-mails haven’t turned up within a few minutes, please check your junk folder, as some service providers have very strict filters.
More core workouts
The first day of the challenge should feel like it needs a bit of effort, but not too much. If you really struggle with day 1, then you probably won’t get through the challenge. The idea with the challenges on this site is that the first few days get you used to the exercises and the daily habit. Usually about halfway through the challenge the effort levels start to increase more quickly.
Avoid challenges that increase effort levels very quickly – they’re simply not realistic. It’s unlikely that, for example, you would be able to increase how many squats you are able to do by 10 a day for 30 days, or increase your plank hold time by 10 seconds a day for 30 days.
In general, allowing muscles 48 hours between workouts is good because it gives our bodies time to recover and adapt. Challenges are generally short workouts and for a limited period of time (usually 30 days), so not having many rest days won’t be a problem. With challenges that alternate exercises each day, it’s not an issue, because you’re using different muscles.
Fitness improvements don’t always happen in a predictable way. Sometimes we’re just not as strong or energetic for no apparent reason, or we hit a plateau. If you get to a point where you’re struggling to complete the day’s challenge, you can try one of the following:
- Take a couple of days off and start again where you left off
- Do the challenge on alternate days rather than every day
- Instead of increasing the effort every day, stay at the same level for 2 or 3 days and then go onto the next day of the challenge
Obviously these solutions mean the challenge will last longer, but you’ll still benefit from doing it.