Did You Know That Planks Improve Mood, Posture and Balance?
We’ve all heard of planks, right? But do you actually do them and if you do, how often? I’ve read about and known about planks for quite some time. Even during the ISSA certified trainer course work, they were mentioned numerous times. We know them to be a great core strength exercise and some say they also build the abs as well.
To be quite honest, I practically never do them. Yup, never… Today we’re going to talk about why you should do them and I’m also going to be doing a 30 day challenge with planks. I am also challenging you to do the same, planks every day for 30 days.
What Is the 30 Day Plank Challenge?
Challenge yourself to do planks or a variation every day for 30 days, except rest days. It’s that simple! The goal is to progressively add more time to your plank every couple of days. Building up to a 5 min plank hold with good form.
Don’t worry if you can’t do 20 seconds right now. Start with a shorter time until you get up to 20 seconds and then follow along from day to day. It’s also important to rest on some days so those have been incorporated into the plank challenge to give your body a break.
What Is A Plank?
In case you’re not familiar with planks, let’s first discuss what they are the basics of the exercise. There are many variations of the plank, which we discuss later in this article.
- Get down onto the ground or floor, toes, elbows and forearms making contact with the floor.
- Keep your body rigid. Your hamstrings, butt, and core should be tight.
- Tuck your chin into your neck, like your holding onto something with your chin.
- Don’t hold your breath, breathe normally during the exercise
- In the begining, you may not be able to hold the position long but with practice, you’ll be able to hold it for longer periods of time.
Why Should You Do Planks?
Now that you know how to do a plank, let’s talk about the benefits of doing planks. Undoubtedly we know that planks help build core strength and stability but what else?
The staff at the Mayo Clinic state that core strengething exercises like the plank can help improve stability and balance 
- Improve Posture – Planks require that you contract your core muscles and those same muscles play a role in you standing upright. By strengthening these core muscles it will cause you to stand straighter and improve your posture overall.
- Less Back Pain – That’s right! If you experience lower back pain, planks may actually help relieve that pain. It’s a side effect of strengthing all of those core muscles. Taking the pressure off of your back. Especially if you currently have weak abdominals.
- Mood Improvement – This is true for pretty much all exercise. Exercise, in general, is known to boost your overall mood. Because planks can help you build your core strength and relieve pressure off of other muscles that have been compensating for a weak core, your mood could see some improvement.
- Improved Balance – One reason for bad balance and stability is due to weak core and abdominals. Your body just isn’t strong enough to keep you upright as it should. By doing planks and strengthening your core, you can also improve your balance.
According to Harvard Health, planks and core strengthening can make every day tasks easier and less stressful on your body! 
- Be sure to keep your body rigid through the entire exercise
- Keep your body from sagging down. When you can’t hold yourself straight any longer, pause and take a break.
- Squeeze and focus on your abs during the exercise. This helps with better muscle activation
- Step up the challenge by positioning your arms further out in front of you to put more focus on your core
- Keep your lower back straight, don’t let it sag down and also don’t let it curve upward
There are many different types of planks and these are great additions to your planks 30 day challenge as well. You want to mix it up some so that you don’t get bored with the daily routine.
- Extended Plank – This is where you put your elbows and your forearms slightly further out in front of you. The standard plank has your elbows in line with your shoulders, where the extended plank has them out in front of your shoulders slightly. This puts more emphasis on your core stability.
- Side Plank – This plank variation involves just one arm on the ground, turning your body to its side and raising the other arm towards the ceiling. With this variation, you’re still getting core activation and adding additional emphasis to your obliques.
- Wide Plank – The wide plank is exactly what it sounds like. Instead of having your elbows directly under your shoulders, you’re holding your weight on your hands and they’re further out from your body.
Runtastic has a great blog post that shows many other variations of the plank, I suggest you go check it out for more ideas.
Planks 30 Day Challenge, Will You Join Me?
So, now that you know how to do a plank and all of the benefits, will you join me? I challenge you to do planks or a variation of the plank every day for 30 days. Try to workout up to holding the plank for 1 to 2 minutes per set and 5 sets. That will be my goal by the end of the 30 days. Good luck! Let us know on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook that you’re joining us.