This 30-Day Plank Challenge Will Transform Your Core in Four Weeks

Try our 30-day challenge and track your progress.

This 30-day challenge is designed to help you progress the amount of time you can hold a plank by, yes, holding a standard plank. But it also helps by challenging you to use other plank-based moves. 

Switching things up will not only help keep you from getting bored, but it will help you unlock the power in your core. The circuits raise your heart rate, get you sweating, and light those abs on fire.

Remember: The plank is a powerful exercise. Strengthening your core muscles can help with everything from stability to helping prevent back pain to sculpting that waistline.

Benefits of the Plank

The plank has become the go-to ab move in the fitness world because it does an excellent job working isometrically, which is the abs the way they’re supposed to function.

By holding it in place, the plank maintains the stability of the core muscles. The core muscles support proper posture and proper alignment of the spine. Plank is a core-strengthening powerhouse that strengthens the shoulders and hips. And you can improve your balance if you do variations of the plank with your arm or leg.

Who Should Avoid Planks

You may cause shoulder joint or back pain if you perform plank exercises incorrectly. So, you should avoid this exercise if you are experiencing any pain in those areas of the body. 

If you are pregnant, you should check with your healthcare provider before starting exercises that include planks. While planks are considered safe for most people, there may be concern about placing stress on the abdominal wall.

Avoid Common Plank Mistakes

To get the most out of your planks, look out for some common mistakes that you may make while planking, like:

  • Allowing the hips, head, or shoulders to drop
  • Holding both hands together (creating internal rotation and instability at the shoulder joint)
  • Holding your breath
  • Trying to hold the contraction too long—it is preferable to have an optimal alignment for a shorter period than to own a poor position for an extended period.

The 30-Day Plank Challenge

Straight-arm Plank

Straight-Arm Plank
Rozalynn S. Frazier
  1. Start in tabletop position, with hands underneath shoulders and knees underneath hips. 
  2. Brace your core, lift your knees, and step back so your legs are straight and your feet are about hip-width apart. Your body should be in a straight line from head to heels.

Forearm Plank

Forearm Plank
Rozalynn S. Frazier
  1. Lie facedown with legs extended, feet hip-width apart, and elbows bent and directly under shoulders. 
  2. Contract abs, squeeze glutes, tuck toes, and lift body (forearms remain on the ground), forming a straight line from head to heels.

Rocking Plank

Rozalynn S. Frazier
  1. From a forearm plank, slowly rock forward on toes until shoulders move past hands. 
  2. Then, slowly push shoulders backward until heels extend beyond toes.

Plank Hip Dips

Rozalynn S. Frazier
  1. From a forearm plank, slowly rotate both hips as you dip them to the right side until they almost touch the ground. 
  2. Raise hips back up, coming briefly into a forearm plank, and then rotate hips to the left. Continue alternating.

Plank Up-Downs

Rozalynn S. Frazier
  1. Lower your right elbow to the ground from a straight-arm plank, followed by your left elbow, coming into a forearm plank. 
  2. Place your right hand on the ground directly beneath your right shoulder and straighten your right elbow. Then, repeat on your left side, coming back into a straight-arm plank. 
  3. Continue alternating between straight-arm and forearm plank.

Plank Jacks

Rozalynn S. Frazier
  1. From a forearm plank, jump your feet out to a wide V-shape. 
  2. Then, jump them back in again. Continue jumping your feet in and out.

The Plan

health 30-day plank challenge graphic
Rozalynn S. Frazier/Uyen Cao

For combination moves (like plank + rocking plank), take a 10- to 30-second break between exercises. Your level (beginner, intermediate, or advanced) will dictate the time. 

For circuits, do all exercises back-to-back without rest. If there are multiple rounds, take 60 seconds of rest between rounds.

Regarding plank holds, you can do either the straight-arm plank or the forearm plank. You can also mix things up by doing half of the holds in one plank and half in another. For example, if you're doing 30-second plank holds, do 15 seconds in a forearm plank and then 15 seconds in a straight-arm plank. Or, try a forearm plank in one round of a circuit and a straight-arm plank in the second round.

Be sure to record your plank time on Day 1 and the bonus on Day 31 (don't worry, the plan officially ends after 30 days!), so you can track your progress.

Rozalynn S. Frazier, Health senior fitness editor, is a NASM certified personal trainer.

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  1. American Council on Exercise. Reality check: Are planks really the best core exercise?

  2. Piper TJ, Jacobs E, Haiduke M, Waller M, McMillan C. Core training exercise selection during pregnancyStrength & Conditioning Journal. 2012;34(1):55-62.

  3. American Council on Exercise. 5 stomach-flattening exercises that reduce back pain.

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