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Strengthen Your Core With This 30-Day Plank Challenge

Strengthen Your Core With This 30-Day Plank Challenge

Whether you’re looking to kick-start your fitness journey or you’ve hit a workout plateau, a 30-day fitness challenge — like an ab challenge or a burpee challenge — can give you a much needed motivation boost.

Because these fitness challenges typically focus on one type of exercise or target one muscle group, they’re not meant to replace your usual exercise program. But they can be a fun add-on to your current routine, and they can help you get in the habit of staying active every day.

Awhile back, I tried a 30-day squat challenge, and my butt has never looked so good. So when my editor asked me to try a 30-day plank challenge — an abs challenge with the goal of working up to a 3-minute plank — I was game. My abs may not be ready to take on that viral baby shark abs challenge, but I figured I could handle doing a few basic abs exercises every day.

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Try the 30-Day Plank Challenge

plank challenge infographic

This plank challenge starts with a 30-second plank, along with a few basic crunches with rotation and a hollow body hold to help improve core strength.

Every few days, you’ll add 15 seconds to your plank, 5 seconds to your hollow body hold, and a few additional crunches, until you’re able to hold a 3-minute plank. (At least that’s the goal!)

Here’s how it all went down. Spoiler alert: It’s harder than it looks.

 

Plank Challenge: Day 1

30 day plank challenge before 30 day plank challenge before

I have to admit, the idea of doing a 3-minute plank was pretty intimidating. Still, I was pumped to get started on this abs challenge. Shredded six-pack, here I come!

Luckily, the first day of any 30-day abs challenge for beginners is usually pretty easy. For this plank challenge, the first day was just 30 seconds of planking, 10 crunches, and a 10-second hollow body hold. Done!

 

Plank Challenge: Day 7

I managed to stick to the first week of the challenge without missing a single day. And if I sleep for eight hours and I’m not bloated and I flex really hard, you can kind of see a part of my abs!

One meh thing: Because the daily exercises are still pretty easy, it doesn’t feel like much of a challenge. The planks are the toughest part, but as far as the level of difficulty goes, 30 seconds doesn’t feel much different from 45 seconds. It’s hard to tell whether my abs are getting stronger, and that’s messing with my motivation. On the upside, I actually enjoy the crunches and the hollow body hold. (Hmm, maybe I can do the baby shark abs challenge after all?!)

 

Plank Challenge: Day 14

The couch won twice this week. Ugh.

I can be pretty hard on myself when I don’t do something perfectly, but I decided to use this as an opportunity to practice giving myself some slack. Instead of using my slip-up as an excuse to give up on the challenge altogether — that all-or-nothing mentality can be hard to kick! — I stuck with it and finished strong the rest of the week.

 

Plank Challenge: Day 21

As the planks have gotten longer, I’ve noticed that some days are more challenging than others, even if the exercises are exactly the same. For example, I’ll muscle through a 2-minute plank one day, but the next day, my arms are already shaking after 30 seconds.

That may be because I haven’t been doing the challenge exercises at the same time every day. A few times this week, I had to force myself to complete the workout at midnight. For the final stretch, I’m going to try to be more consistent with when I do my abs exercises, to see if that makes a difference.

The good news? Three weeks in, I can definitely see some results.

 

Plank Challenge Results

plank challenge- front view results plank challenge- side view results

Moment of truth: On the last day of the challenge, I didn’t nail the 3-minute plank. But I came close! And before I started this abs challenge, I couldn’t even hold a plank for a full minute, so that’s a definite improvement.

Overall, I feel like my core is stronger — by day 30, the crunches and hollow body hold felt easy-breezy. My stomach looks flatter, and my posture has even improved.

Of course, I’m tempted to beat myself up because I didn’t conquer the 3-minute plank. But learning how to stay on-track even when my motivation was lagging — and learning to be kinder to myself, even if I’m not doing something “perfectly” — was just as worthwhile a pursuit as a 3-minute plank.

Maybe I’m not meant to be a fourteen-pack goddess (yet!), but right now, I’m happy with a two-pack and a little more self-compassion.

(Planning to try this 30-day plank challenge? Tag us in your photos and let us know how it’s going!)

Chelsea Frank

About

Chelsea Frank was born and bullied in Los Angeles, CA. When she's not performing stand up comedy or crying while doing squats, Chelsea writes about all things health, beauty, and travel. Her work has been featured in Shape, Uproxx, TripSavvy, The Daily Beast, Thrillist, and Reductress, among others. Fun fact: she's traveled to over 50 countries and has gotten sick in pretty much all of them! Follow her on Twitter.

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