If you do not have a strong core, you might not realize what you are missing or how useful one could be. Your core is made up of your abdominal, obliques, lower back, and gluteus muscles. These muscles act as stabilizers for the entire body and is the body’s center of power. A strong core can help prevent injuries and back pain, better your posture, and help you feel more confident in yourself and your body. Because most Americans are becoming more and more sedentary and sitting for most of the day, we are not properly maintaining our cores. I know that my core is not where it could be, that is why I am joining Aliera’s 30-Day Plank Challenge.

If you’re new to working out and/or have a limited amount of time to work out, focusing on your core is the best way to make an impact on your body. One of my favorite things about working my core is that it can be done in under ten minutes daily. Not having enough time is my biggest excuse for not making time for my workout. However, that excuse is not valid, because there is always five minutes to spare for your core.

Proper Plank Form

A plank, or planking, is one of the most effective exercises to strengthen your core. This calisthenics exercise requires no equipment or weights and for a plank to be effective you must have proper form. Without proper form, you could injure yourself and halt your progress.

  • Your elbows should be directly under your shoulders with either your hands or forearms placed on the ground
  • Your feet should be hip-width apart with your legs engaged
  • Your body should be completely straight engaging your core and squeezing your glutes
  • Your eyes should be focused on the floor and your neck relaxed
  • Your breath should be slow and steady and from deep inside your belly

With this challenge, you can adjust the difficulty to suit your fitness level. Quality is always more important than quantity. It will be more beneficial to hold a plank with proper form for two reps than to hold an improper plank for four reps. If you are a beginner, start the challenge with 2 reps each day. If you are at an intermediate level, start the challenge with 3-4 reps each day. If you are at an advanced level, start the challenge with 5-6 reps each day. I prefer to keep my rest time between reps under 45 seconds, but go with what your body feels. If your body is telling you that you need more/less time in between repetitions then listen to it.

Tips

  • Listen to your favorite song for motivation
  • Turn over your phone so you cannot see how much time is left on the timer
  • Do not hold your breath…this will only make it harder
  • Plank in front of a mirror to ensure you are maintaining proper form

Happy Planking (: