Ok, so you may have already heard of ‘the plank’ – it’s an easy exercise often used to strengthen the core muscles and tone up tummies, and the idea is to stay in the plank position for as long as possible for the maximum benefit.
But what if we told you that by taking the simple plank and ‘pimping’ it, you could target even more areas of your body that you’d like to tone up, without having to learn lots of tricky exercise techniques or pay for a gym membership?
One of the best things about the humble plank is that it’s absolutely free to do – from the comfort of your living room!
If you want to target your tummy but feel the benefits in your sides (yep, we’re talking muffin tops here) as well as improve shoulder strength and stability, our 30-day plank challenge is for you. And it only takes a few minutes every day!
Worried you won’t know how to do a proper plank? Nutracheck Fitness Expert Kelly Marshall shows you exactly how you can perform each plank exercise at home, no personal trainers or equipment needed! Her fitness challenge is easily set out so you can see exactly which exercise you need to do each day of the month. Simple!
What does the plan involve?
Kelly says: ‘In this challenge we take the concept of the plank and funk it up with several variations and progressions to isolate your side muscles (obliques) as well as enhance shoulder strength and stability… maximising your efforts!’
Planking is a great way to slowly build up your strength without resorting to strenuous exercise – start the plan today and you’ll be feeling stronger and more toned in no time!
To start your 30-day plank challenge all you need to do is download the plan below, print it out and stick it somewhere that will remind you every day to do your planks. Alternatively you could just save it to your phone, so it’s always handy when you have a few minutes to spare.
Kelly demonstrates how to perfect each of the four moves you’ll need to know, to take on the 30-day plank challenge:
1. Static plank
Lying on your front, bring our elbows underneath your shoulders before pulling your tummy muscles in and lifting yourself up onto your toes and elbows. Hold this ‘plank’ position for the allocated time (if able to hold without losing tummy muscle activation). If this is too difficult change to a safer position with your knees on the floor.
2. Extended arm plank
This variation to the classic static plank on elbows simply requires you to adopt the same body position but with your arms extended, so you’re balancing on your hands and toes. This changes the angle and demand on your core muscles as well as adding another dimension of stability challenge to your shoulders and arms.
Keep the tummy muscles pulled in (belly button to spine) throughout the exercise and ensure your chest remains over your hands (otherwise your shoulders will get tired before your core).
3. Side plank
This variation places an emphasis on your obliques (side abs) and again challenges the shoulders in another position. Lying on your side, place your forearm on the floor underneath you so the elbow lines parallel with your shoulder.
Pull your tummy muscles in then lift your hip off the floor, pushing it up towards the ceiling so your body is parallel and you are balancing on your forearm and stacked feet (side of foot in contact with the floor).
4. Up and down plank
This advanced core and upper body exercise starts with the original static plank position and ends in the extended arm plank position. The challenge lies in moving the body from one position to the other. To do this, lift one arm and take the hand of the arm to where your elbow was. Then push through that hand and use your core while you repeat the same movement with the other arm.
It is crucial that you keep your tummy tight throughout and the distance you place your feet apart hugely affects the difficulty level, so the wider the feet means the easier the movement (as you have increased stability).
We’d love to know if you’re going to take on the 30-day plank challenge, and for you to keep us posted with your progress! Either leave us a comment below or visit our Facebook page to share your exercise experiences. Good luck!
Kelly Marshall, Nutracheck Fitness Expert says ‘It’s true that you can’t out-train a bad diet. To get the maximum benefit from your plank exercise plan, you need to make sure your nutrition is as focused as your exercise. The Nutracheck App is a must-have tool if you want to monitor your diet and track your calorie intake’.
If you are trying to lose a few pounds as well as tone up, the Nutracheck calorie counter App and website can help. Enter all the activity you do in the exercise diary and see how many calories you’ve burn. Record everything you eat in the Nutracheck food diary – the App is super-fast to use – and get the balance right to lose weight.