Plank Workouts for Women that Work
With this easy-to-follow 30 day plank challenge, you will see the results you’ve been dying to see in no time. Say goodbye to your love handles and tummy pouch because they are on their way out.
What are the Benefits of Doing Plank Workouts?
Planking is one of the best exercises to do for strengthening your core. It engages multiple muscle groups simultaneously on both the anterior (front side of body) and posterior (back side of body). It will not only strengthen your belly, but will also strengthen your lower back and reduce back pain.
Planking exercises increase flexibility in your posterior all the way down to the arches of your feet & toes. Your posture and balance will improve due to the fact that you must keep your abs engaged.
The plank workout is a great exercise that works muscles throughout your entire body – but only if it’s done correctly. Keep reading to find detailed instructions and quick tips on how to do a plank and get the most out of this 30 day plank challenge!
Toning Your Core and Sculpting Perfect Abs
The planking exercise is one of the most efficient and effective core moves, as it targets both the upper and lower muscles of the abdomen, as well as the lower back. And while it’s working all those muscles to strengthen your core, your upper body, and lower-body are also getting a workout — your back and shoulders work to maintain upper body stability while your quads and glutes maintain a rigid lower body. And the best part? While a plank workout improves your posture, strengthens your core muscles helping to avoid injury, and activates multiple muscles throughout your body, it is also giving you that flat, toned stomach you’ve been working so hard to achieve.
Proper Plank Form
In order for the 30 day plank challenge to work in your favor, it’s essential that your form is correct when performing the exercise. Improper form can actually injure your lower back and halt your progress. Follow these directions to perform a proper forearm plank.
- Plant forearms firmly on the ground, shoulder-width apart.
- Stretch out your legs, stabilizing yourself with the balls of your feet.
- As you lift yourself off the floor, make sure your body forms a straight line from the top of your head all the way to your feet.
- Do not let your hips sink down close to the floor; this will cause strain on your lower back, which could result in a low back injury.
- Do not raise your hips either; though this makes it easier, it will also put unnecessary strain on your lower back. Plus its cheating, making the exercise easier, so don’t do that.
- Make sure your abs are engaged the whole time. You can do this by thinking about getting your belly button to reach the ceiling, not letting gravity take over your stomach and keeping your abdominal muscles engaged the entire time.
- To engage your legs, squeeze your glutes together and engage your quads. The best way to engage specific muscles is to think about flexing them while you are doing the exercise.
- Most importantly, remember to breathe. Especially as you begin holding the exercise for longer amounts of time, it is important to keep a steady breathing pattern. Try to get deep breathes, rather than keeping the breathing high in your chest. This can be hard due to the position your body is in, but the best trick to control your breathing pattern is to focus on your out breath. Your body will naturally take a breath in with the same amount of pressure you breathe out with.
Common Plank Workout Mistakes
Proper from is crucial when learning how to do a plank. Excessive planking with incorrect form could lead to injury.
- Placing your hands too close together – This will cause internal rotation and instability to your shoulder joint
- Holding your breath – You will increases blood pressure rapidly and this can lead to fainting
- Letting your head, hip, or shoulders to drop – Body needs to be aligned or it can lead to injury
- Trying to hold the planking exercise for too long – Better to maintain correct form for a shorter time than to hold improper form for a longer period
Planking Exercise Variations
How do You do a Beginners Plank?
If you find the front forearm plank to be too difficult, go ahead and try a straight-arm plank.
- Plant your hands firmly on the ground, shoulder-width apart with your arms straight. Avoid locking your elbows, this puts unnecessary and, often times, dangerous stress on the joint.
- Stretch out your legs, with your weight on the balls of your feet.
- As you assume the position, stiffen your spine, engage your abdominal muscles, squeeze your glutes and quads and keep your head in a neutral position to form a straight line with your body.
- Again, do not let your hips sag to the floor or your glutes rise toward the ceiling. Keep your body in a rigid, straight line during the entirety of the plank workout.
- Place your forearms on an unstable surface such as an exercise or BOSU ball.
- Place your feet on an unstable surface.
- Lift one foot off of the floor during your plank workout.
- Lift one arm/hand off of the floor as you plank.
- Jump your legs in and out while planking in jumping jack fashion.
- As you perform the planking exercise, alternate bringing your right knee toward your right armpit and your left knee toward your left armpit.
- Shuffle your feet from side-to-side as you plank.
- Maintain the plank while you reach forward with your right arm and then your left arm.
- Twist your body from side-to-side by bringing your left knee toward your right armpit and then your right knee toward your left armpit.
- March your arms up and down, moving from your hands to your forearms.
- Simultaneously lift your left arm and right leg. Hold for a count, then switch, lifting your right arm and left leg.
- Place your feet on a smooth/slick surface and contract your core to draw your feet forward and back “sawing” your way through the planking exercise.
- During your plank workout, rotate your upper body by reaching up into the air with your right arm and rotating to lift your left arm into the air.
- Gently tap one knee at a time against the floor for the duration of the plank.
- From the straight-arm plank position, walk your hands out as far as you can. Hold here as long as you can while keeping your hips level.
- Again, from the straight-arm plank, push forward with your toes until your shoulders go past your hands and you’re mere centimeters from tipping onto your face. Hold here for a breath then return to the starting plank position.
One thing to remember is that this is a core exercise, and your core does include your lower back. So do not be concerned if you feel some soreness in your lower back a few days into the plank challenge. This is actually good because it means those muscles are being worked and ultimately being strengthened by the plank workout.
How to do a side plank
There aren’t many core exercises that are as effective as the side plank. Most people overlook working their sides and just focus on their main core. There’s nothing wrong with that, but if you neglect your sides, you’re ignoring a weak muscle called the quadratus lumborum. This is an important muscle on the backside of your abdominal wall that plays a crucial role in mitigating back pain.
Make sure to incorporate this exercise into your plank workout and here’s how to do it:
- Get into a plank position then turn onto your right side.
- Keep your legs extended, your hips and feet will be resting on the ground. Your feet will be stacked on top of each other.
- Place your right elbow directly beneath your shoulder to lift your torso up and align your head with your spine.
- Place your free arm along the length of your body, or if you want to increase difficulty, raise your arm straight into the air.
- Repeat the same directions for your left side.
Falling Off Your Plank Workout Schedule
First things first, it’s ok! Life happens. Sometimes we forget, sometimes we are too busy, and let’s be honest, sometimes we just straight up do not feel like working out. If you miss one day that’s alright. The best thing to do is to start where you left off and don’t worry about trying to make up for a lost day. Just turn it into a 31-day challenge with an extra rest day. No big deal.
If you happen to miss multiple days in a row, however, the rules change a little. After missing a few days, it is best to just take it from the top. Don’t feel bad about starting over though! Chances are you will be more determined to complete the challenge on your second go around. The 30 day plank challenge is designed to build your strength at a steady pace, letting your body adapt to the movements, and make sure you aren’t too sore to complete it. So after missing a few days, instead of throwing your body right back into a higher rep range, you will get the most out of it by starting at day one.
30 Day Plank Challenge Quick Tips
Doing the 30 day plank challenge is a great way to jump-start your fitness lifestyle, push yourself to new limits, reach new goals, and see the results you want. But they only work if you stick to them. Here are some quick tips to use when doing any fitness challenge to help you stay on track and have fun while you’re doing it!
- Invite your friends to join you! Everything is more fun when your best friends do it with you, so make it a team challenge. This way, you will have your friends to keep you accountable, push you, and make this challenge that much more fun!
- Listen to your favorite music! Even though it does not take too much time out of your day, working out is always more fun when you are listening to the hottest new hit or your favorite indie band.
- Be consistent! Do the exercises for the challenge each day at the same time and in the same place (if possible. I know life is busy, so do this to the best of your ability). When you have a routine to follow, you are more likely to not miss a day and actually complete the challenge.
- For this challenge, in particular, a good tip is to perform this challenge on a soft service, preferably a workout mat! But if you don’t have one of those on hand, using a towel or any other soft surface will do the trick. Because you will be performing the plank on the same spot on your forearms and elbows, it is important to keep them protected.
3 Ways to Increase Your Plank Time
The only way to improve your plank time is by practice. There are no shortcuts for any planking exercise. You just need to put in the time and effort it. Follow these 3 tips to increase your plank time:
- Do bodyweight exercises – Pull-ups and pushups will only increase your core strength.
- Compound lifts – Perform squats and deadlifts to really strengthen your abs.
- Practice – The 30 Day Plank Challenge will show you how to do a proper plank workout and increase your plank time.
Now that you’re all set, it’s time to start sculpting that tummy!
30 Day Plank Challenge
So here’s the plan: in 30 days you’ll be able to hold the planking exercise for two minutes. Don’t worry if you can barely hold it for 15 seconds, that’s all you have to start with. Now, for those of you on the other hand who can do a two-minute plank no problem, first, way to go! Second, you can still use this challenge to help you build up your core strength and increase your plank time. Simply add one minute to each day, and by the end of the plank challenge, you’ll double the length of time you can hold a plank. Talk about core strength!
For this planking challenge, you’ll be performing the basic plank each day (previously explained), and the duration you have to hold the plank increases throughout the 30 day plank challenge. Rest days are placed periodically throughout the challenge, and I encourage you to use those to your advantage, as your tummy will probably be screaming for them. Rest days are important because they give your muscles time to heal and grow.
Two minutes! Way to go! How’s your tummy feeling? Flat, toned, sore? Perfect. Now that you’re feeling good about your planking exercise, you can push yourself even more by adding one minute to the recommended time each day and work your way up to four minutes.
Too easy for you? Add our 30 day squat challenge to really feel the burn!