Plank Challenge From Your Nightmares
Planks are one of those exercises which look easy from far away but turn into the hardest things you’ve ever done as soon as you get into position. The planks came into the mainstream as CrossFit caught fire.
Planks are a new ray of hope for people who’ve always wanted abs but have never been able to get them. If you didn’t already know, every individual has abs – it’s just that most people have their’s under a layer of fat.
We’re glad you asked. We don’t want you to be someone who follows a training program just because they’ve heard that it works. You should know the ins and outs of the plan and this is where the ‘Plank Challenge From Your Nightmares’ comes in handy.
The plank (also called a front hold, hover, or abdominal bridge) is an isometric core strength exercise that involves maintaining a position similar to a push-up for a fixed or the maximum possible time.
What are isometric exercises? We’re so glad this is turning into such a beautiful conversation. Isometric movements are exercises that involve the static contraction of a muscle without any visible movement in the angle of the joint.
Building a Strong Core
One of the most common mistakes that fitness noobs make is that they try to do 200 different variations of the crunches in hopes of building a strong core. While we agree that having variety in training is a good thing and monogamy should be reserved for relationships, doing so many different movements will get you nowhere.
The planks excel at training multiple muscle groups. Perform 50 crunches and you might have a nasty ab pump by the end of the set. Holding a 2-minute plank, on the other hand, can set your arms, shoulders, obliques, chest, glutes, and quads on fire.
Why a Strong Core?
Oh God, we love your questions. Your core muscles are the link connecting your upper and lower body. Whether you’re hitting a tennis ball or mopping the floor, the necessary motions either originate in your core or move through it.
Good Posture – A strong core can help in improving your posture. Dropping shoulders, slouching and other forms of lethargic body language are signs of a weak core. Most importantly, a strong core can reduce the wear and tear of the spine and allows you to breathe deeply.
Sports and Other Fun Activities – Sports like football, tennis, cricket, basketball, kayaking, rowing and many other athletic activities are powered by a strong core. Although sex requires abdomen strength and flexibility, it’s usually left out while mentioning the benefits of a powerful core.
Everyday Tasks – Day-to-day activities like bending down, sitting straight, turning back, all need a solid core. Most people take these mundane activities for granted until their core can’t support it anymore.
A Healthy Back – If you’re someone with lower-back pains, training your core can turn your life around for the better. Planks promote well-balanced and resilient core muscles which can combat back problems that affect four out of five Americans at some point in their lives.
Balance and Stability – A strong core and stabilizers can help you stand on unstable surfaces while maintaining balance. In other words, a solid core can lessen your risk of falling even on the bumpiest of terrains.
The pointers above should give you a fair idea about the harms of an overlooked, undertrained and weak core. Weak, tight, or unbalanced core muscles can undermine you in any of the aforementioned realms.
Common Planking Mistakes
We have never encountered a single person who has been able to do the planks correctly from the get-go. Even the seasoned lifters usually let their forms slide when they are trying to hit a time target.
Letting the Hips Drop
Most of the planking mistakes happen when people try to hold the position more than what their body can handle. Because the planks are so hard on the abdomen, some people drop their lower bodies toward the floor to take tension off their core.
Forming a Bridge
A bridge is the mirror opposite of the crotch-drop but has the same effect of elevating tension from your midriff. Your upper and lower body should be in a straight line to target your core optimally. Contracting your abs while planking can help you build a mind-muscle connection and better focus on the midsection.
Shrugging the Shoulders
Many lifters instinctively shrug their shoulders, which doesn’t look or feel right. You’ll get a shoulder pump before an ab-pump if you make this mistake. To fix it, squeeze your shoulder blades together and pull your forearms toward your hips to maximize core engagement and proper positioning.
Not Focusing on the Toes
Toes are one of the most neglected aspects of a plank. You should push your toes into the ground and pull them toward your head to engage your quads. Not doing so can create a kink in the tension chain.
Turning Into a Bobblehead
Your head placement is one of the most crucial parts of performing a plank correctly. While performing the planks, some people like to move their head around or bang their heads as if they’re in a rock band.
Aim your gaze a few inches in front of your fingers to maintain a neutral head position or you risk neck problems like cervical in the long run.
Not Knowing When To Stop
Planks have a law of diminishing marginal utility. In its case, the utility isn’t limited to time but your form while performing the exercise. If you can’t hold a strict plank – the right thing would be to call it off, take rest and do another set rather than to commit one of the mistakes mentioned above.
30-Day Plank Challenge From Your Nightmares
In the 30-Day plank challenge, you’ll not be doing the same vanilla planks for the complete month. You’ll be performing variations of the exercise to ensure overall development and train your midsection from all possible angles.
Time 30-Seconds – 3 Sets
Day 1 – Planks (Low Planks)
You’ll be taking it easy on the first day but we promise things are going to escalate quickly. On the first day of the Plank Challenge From Your Nightmares, you’ll be performing the orthodox planks. For the first 10 days, you’ll be holding every variation for 30-seconds.
Day 2 – High Planks
High planks are a slight variation of the low planks. In the high planks, your arms are extended straight instead of being bent at the elbows. Make sure you aren’t shrugging your shoulders as it can take the tension off your abs and put it on your delts.
Day 3 – Forearm Side Planks
Obliques are one of the most overlooked muscle groups. They are the fish-gilled like muscles at the sides of your abs. While performing the plank on your right side, keep your left foot on top of the right and don’t let your hips dip.
Day 4 – High Side Planks
Similar to the textbook high plank, your arms are extended in the high side planks. Walk your right hand to the midline of your body and roll onto the outside edge of your right foot. Stack your feet, drive your hips to the ceiling and extend your left arm to the ceiling.
Day 5 – Low Plank with Knee Taps
We’re getting a little advanced on the fifth day of the program. While holding the low-plank position, bend your right knee to tap the floor. Alternate between knees for 30-seconds. Your abs are going to be on fire by the end of the exercise.
Day 6 – Reach Planks
The reach planks are designed to focus on one side of your abdomen at a time. Start by getting into the low plank position and then extend your right arm forward so it is parallel to the floor. Hold the position for 30-seconds before switching arms.
Day 7 – High Plank Shoulder Taps
The high plank shoulder taps might look easy but will annihilate your core. While you’re in the high plank position lift your right hand off the floor and tap your left shoulder. Return to the starting position and repeat with your left hand.
Day 8 – Planks Up-Downs
Start in the low plank position. Lift your right elbow off the floor and place your hand in its place. Repeat the same on your left side. After you’re in the high-plank position, descend back in the same order. Repeat for 30-seconds.
Day 9 – Push-Ups Narrow-Width Hold
In the narrow-wdth push-ups planks, your arms will be at the side of your torso. Your elbows should be close to your upper body. Your upper and lower body should be in a straight line and parallel to the floor.
Day 10 – Bringing it Together
The tenth day of the Plank Challenge From Your Nightmares is going to include bits of some of the plank variations you’ve done until now. Start in a forearm plank. Do two knee taps, one with each knee. Transition to a high plank. Tap each hand to its opposite shoulder. Return to forearm plank.
Time 60-Seconds – 3 Sets
Day 11 – Low Planks with Thrusts
Low planks with thrusts will fill your abdomen with lactic acid. Start in the low plank position and slowly dip your hips towards the floor until they’re two inches off the floor. Return to starting position and raise your hips to form an “A”. Repeat for 60-seconds.
Day 12 – Plank Jacks
Plank jacks are the right fit for the Plank Challenge From Your Nightmares and are an explosive variation of the isometric exercise. They are like jumping jacks but while lying down with your forearms on the floor.
Start in a high plank and hop your feet out wider than hip-width without allowing your butt to pop up above the height of your shoulders, then quickly hop your feet back to hip-width.
Day 13 – Low Side Plank with Hip Dips
By the thirteenth day, you will have built enough stamina and core strength to execute the low side plank with hip dips. While you’re in the low plank position, dip your hips until they’re two inches off the floor. Return to the starting position and repeat for 60 seconds.
Day 14 – High Plank Knee to Opposite Elbow
Get into a high plank and bring your left knee toward your right shoulder. Return to the starting position and alternate between legs. Make sure you’re keeping your midsection contracted while performing the planks.
Day 15 – Low Side Plank Knee to Same Side Elbow
This variation is going to test your stability and balance along with your core strength. Start in the low side plank position with your right elbow on the floor. Lift your left leg off the right and bring your knee close to your left shoulder. Repeat for 60 seconds.
Day 16 – Push-Ups Wide-Width Hold
The Wide-width push-up holds are a variation of the close-width planks. Get into the push-up position with your hands placed outside the shoulders. Do nothing more and nothing less. Stay in the position for the recommended time.
Day 17 – Crouching Panther Plank
Place your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. While maintaining a flat back, lift your knees two inches off the ground and hold the position for 60-seconds.
Day 18 – Low Side Plank, Rotate, and Leg Lift
Get into the low side plank on your right side and keep your left hand behind your head. Bring your left elbow close to the right hand while exhaling and contracting your abs. Return to the starting position and lift your leg until it is parallel to the floor. Repeat for 60 seconds before switching sides.
Day 19 – High Plank Reach
Assume a high plank position and walk your feet as far behind as possible without losing balance. Draw your navel in and squeeze your butt while contracting your abdomen. This variation is also known as Superman planks.
Day 20 – Bringing it Together
Like the 10th day of the Plank Challenge From Your Nightmares, the 20th and 30th days are going to be an amalgamation of the last ten days. Do two plank up-downs. Follow-up with bringing each knee to its opposite elbow. Repeat the circle for 60 seconds.
Time 120-Seconds – 3 Sets
Day 21 – High Side Plank – Hip Dip – Leg Lift
Assume a high right side plank. Dip your right hip down about 10 inches, lift back up to a right side plank position and lift your left leg off your right with control. Keep the reps slow and controlled. Perform for 60 seconds on your right side and then switch to the left.
Day 22 – Moving Lateral Panther Plank
Get into a crouching panther plank position. While holding the position, move to your left side by simultaneously moving your left hand and foot to your left by a few inches followed by your right limbs. Move left for 15 seconds and then switch directions. Complete a two-minute set.
Day 23 – Triceps Push-Up with Rotation
The triceps push-ups with rotation will test your balance and core stability. After performing a tricep push-up, find your balance and lift your right hand off the ground to extend your right arm to the sky and open your right side chest to the right. Return to the starting position, perform another push-up and repeat the left-side rotation.
Day 24 – Slider Plank Rows
You’ll need a slider or towel for this exercise. Get into the low plank position and place your toes on the slider. While holding the plank position, glide your body forward and back, shifting your shoulders over your wrists, then behind them.
Day 25 – High Side Plank Thread – Leg Lift
Start in a high right side plank and extend your left arm so it is perpendicular to the floor. Thread the left arm underneath your right side body, then lift your left leg off your right. Return your leg to the starting position followed by your arm. Repeat for 60-seconds on each side.
Day 26 – Slider Plank Army Crawls
This is one of the most brutal exercises on the list. Start in a low plank with your toes on sliders. Crawl forward on your elbows about eight “steps”, then crawl backward about eight steps. By the end of the exercise, you’ll be glad you didn’t join the army.
Day 27 – High Side Plank – Crunch – Toe Tap
Start in the right side high plank with right foot slightly in front of your left and your left hand behind your head. Pull your right knee into your chest while you crunch your left elbow to meet your right knee. Once back to your start position lift your left foot off the ground to tap in front of your right foot, then back behind it.
Day 28 – Slider One-Legged High Plank Pull
The slider one-legged high plank pulls will test your mettle. Take a high plank position with the toes of your right foot on a slider and your left foot in the air. Pull your left knee into your chest. Using your core, keep your left knee locked in tight while you drag your right knee into your chest.
Day 29 – Crouching Tiger Push-Ups
Get in a high plank position and bend your elbows so your arms are perpendicular to the floor. Bend your knees and press through your shoulders to glide your body back so your knees are beneath your hips. Straighten your legs to transition into a wide downward dog position. Lift high onto your toes and articulate your spine to perform a rolling wave back to your start position.
Day 30 – Bringing it All Together
We’ve reached the end of the program and you should be able to see the changes in your physique by now. For the last workout, get in a high plank position with toes on gliders. Walk your hands forward four steps. Open your legs wider than hip-width to a straddle (similar to a plank jack) position for five times. Walk your hands back four steps.