Plank Challenge

Monday, April 2

Straight up plank!

Beginning on your forearms is a great place to start. Come to your hands and knees then place your elbows directly under your shoulders. Palms can be flat or in a fist. Definitely keep your hands flat if you have any arthritis in your hands. Try to keep your chest open, blades reaching down your back and press down into the floor to put a little more distance between you and the mat. Look a little in front of your hands to keep your neck in line with your spine.

Engaging your core….pull up your pelvic floor (i.e. Kegel) and pull your low core (transverse abdominus) in and wide across your pelvis. (Like you would if your pants were a little to tight). Always think of pulling your core in toward the spine and up along it but not too compressive.

Step one foot back at a time. Legs can be hip width apart (especially if you have any low back issues) or together. Reach your heals back and engage your quadraceps (front of the thigh). Keeping the core engaged, neck in line with the spine, arms pressing down and shoulders open, hold and breathe for 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times. You can start holding for less time and work your way up to a minute. STOP before you lose form! You can always add in another set but don’t sacrifce form, EVER. Make sure your low back isn’t arching/sagging, your core will help hold it in line. We all have a curve in our low backs (some greater than others) but thinking about the front of the body being in a straight line from ankle to head will help with your alignment.

You will also find a photo of a straight arm plank. All directions remain the same. You still need to keep the chest open, shoulders back, heels reaching back and quads engaged. If you experience pain in your wrists you can roll up your mat and place the heel of your hand on the edge of the mat with your fingers off. This takes a little compression out of the wrists. The more you press through your hands and lift your chest away from the mat, the less compression you will feel. In doing this don’t over round your upper back.
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Tuesday April 3

Plank with hip dips

Begin on your forearms. Come to your hands and knees then place your elbows directly under your shoulders. Palms can be flat or in a fist. Definitely do flat hands if you have any arthritis in your hands. Try to keep your chest open, blades reaching down your back and press down into the floor to put a little more distance between you and the mat. Look at your hands to keep your neck in line with your spine.

Engaging your core….pull up your pelvic floor (i.e. Kegel) and pull your low core (transverse abdominus) in and wide across your pelvis. (Like you would if your pants were a little to tight). Always think of pulling your core in toward the spine and up along it but not too compressive.

Step one foot back at a time. Legs should be hip width apart (especially if you have any low back issues). Reach your heals back and engage your quadraceps (front of the thigh). Keeping the core engaged, neck in line with the spine, arms pressing down and shoulders open, use your core to spin your pelvis so that one hip come a little closer to the floor. This is not a huge movement. You do not want the ‘spin’ to change any stability in your upper spine, shoulders, arms or legs. Just the pelvis and low spine will rotate around the axis of your spine. You will go back and forth from right to left 3 times each, take a rest and repeat 3-5 times. STOP before you lose form! You can always add in another set but don’t sacrifice form, EVER.
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Wednesday April 4

Side Plank

This can be done on your forearm or with your arm straight. We have a few options for this one as you will see in the pictures.

Begin by placing your elbow or hand directly under your shoulder and stepping your feet out to your side so that you are in a side plank position. You need to press your hand or forearm down into the mat to engage under your shoulder joint and lift your under side away from the mat. Legs straight and together. You’ll be on the outer edge of your bottom foot (sometimes wearing shoes makes this more pleasant). You’re top foot will rest easy on your bottom foot. If you need support to keep you from sagging your side body to the floor, bend your top leg and place it in front of your bottom leg. Press down into the foot to help lift the hips and ribs away from the floor. Look straight ahead to keep the neck and head in line with your spine. Hold for 30 seconds, rest and repeat 3-5 times. STOP before you lose form! You can always add in another set but don’t sacrifce form, EVER. .
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Thursday April 5

Plank/Side Plank

Placing your hands directly under your shoulders, keep your chest open, try not to round the upper back (like an angry cat) nor let your spine fall through your shoulder blades, press down into the floor to put a little more distance between you and the mat. Look at your hands to keep your neck in line with your spine.

Engaging your core….pull up your pelvic floor (i.e. Kegel) and pull your low core (transverse abdominus) in and wide across your pelvis. (Like you would if your pants were a little to tight). Always think of pulling your core in toward the spine and up along it but not too compressive.

Step one foot back at a time, legs hip width apart. Reach your heals back and engage your quadraceps (front of the thigh). Keeping the core engaged, neck in line with the spine, arms pressing down and shoulders open, hold and breathe for 10 seconds. Begin to lift one arm off the floor spinning on your feet into side plank. Your top foot will be in front of your back foot. Hold for 10 seconds then rotate yourself back into your plank position. Pick up your other arm and turn yourself into your side plank facing the other side, hold for 10 seconds and return back to your plank position. Repeat 3-5 times per side. STOP before you lose form! You can always add in another set but don’t sacrifice form, EVER. .
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Friday, April 6

Plank lifting a leg

Placing your hands directly under your shoulders, keep your chest open, try not to round the upper back (like an angry cat) nor let your spine fall through your shoulder blades, press down into the floor to put a little more distance between you and the mat. Look at your hands to keep your neck in line with your spine. Step one foot back at a time, legs hip width apart. Reach your heals back and engage your quadraceps (front of the thigh). Keeping the core engaged, neck in line with the spine, arms pressing down and shoulders open, hold and breathe for 10 seconds.

Really “stand” strong through one leg and begin to lift one foot off the floor. It doesn’t need to lift high. Don’t change the shape of your pelvis, spine or neck. Try not to allow for too much side shifting. You may want to think of pushing down into the floor with opposite hand and foot (say the right hand and left foot, when lifting the right leg). Maybe pressing the right hand and left foot like you are trying to spread the mat on a diagonal works better for you. Alternate between your legs moving with control, smootly and with intention. Repeat 3-5 times per leg. Rest in between when needed. STOP before you lose form! You can always add in another set but don’t sacrifice form, EVER.
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Saturday, April 7

Plank with shoulder taps

Placing your hands directly under your shoulders, keep your chest open, try not to round the upper back (like an angry cat) nor let your spine fall through your shoulder blades, press down into the floor to put a little more distance between you and the mat. Look at your hands to keep your neck in line with your spine. Step one foot back at a time, legs hip width apart. Reach your heals back and engage your quadraceps (front of the thigh). Keeping the core engaged, neck in line with the spine, arms pressing down and shoulders open, hold and breathe for 10 seconds.

Ground down through your right hand and left foot then lift the left hand off the floor and touch your right shoulder. Replace your hand on the floor. Ground down through your left hand and right foot and tap your left shoulder with your right hand. Try not to shift your hips side to side. You’ll need some serious core to stabilize your pelvis. Repeat 3-5 time, rest and repeat. STOP before you lose form! You can always add in another set but don’t sacrifice form, EVER. .
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Monday, April 9th

Plank/Down Dog

Placing your hands directly under your shoulders (pointer fingers pointing straight forward), keep your chest open, try not to round the upper back nor let your spine fall through your shoulder blades, press down into the floor to put a little more distance between you and the mat. Look at your hands to keep your neck in line with your spine. Step one foot back at a time, legs hip width apart. Reach your heals back and engage your quadraceps (front of the thigh). Keeping the core engaged, neck in line with the spine, arms pressing down and shoulders open, hold and breathe for 10 breaths.

Transfer your weight back to your feet and into a down dog by lifting with your low core. Any push from the arms comes from the tricep side of the arm as well as the lats. Don’t scrunch your shoulders up to your ears. Roll your arm bones outward so that the fleshy part of the elbows face each other. Keep pressure into all the balls of the fingers, shoulders away from the ears, core pulled in, butt reaching for the sky (knees can be bent especially if your legs are tight). You are aiming for a straight spine versus straight legs. Hold in down dog for 10 breaths.

Move smoothly back into a plank being mindful of your upper core helping to control your weight coming back forward over your hands. Recheck your shoulders making sure they are not up to your ears. Really, your arms bones will be spinning in the socket as you move forward into plank, the shoulders pretty much stay put. Move between plank and down dog 5-10 times, holding for up to 10 breaths in each. STOP before you lose form! You can always add in another rep but don’t sacrifice form, EVER.
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Tuesday, April 10

Plank reaching opposite knee to elbow

Ok, so you have a couple options for this one. This is one of my favorites, as well as, tomorrows plank. I like to begin in down dog then coming forward into plank reaching my opposite knee to elbow, going back into down dog and coming forward with the other knee for elbow. It can also be done starting in plank and moving the knee to opposite elbow and switching legs.

To begin place your hands directly under your shoulders (pointer fingers pointing straight forward), keep your chest open, try not to round the upper back nor let your spine fall through your shoulder blades, press down into the floor to put a little more distance between you and the mat. Look at your hands to keep your neck in line with your spine. Step one foot back at a time, legs hip width apart. Reach your heals back and engage your quadraceps (front of the thigh). Keeping the core engaged, neck in line with the spine, arms pressing down and shoulders open.

Transfer your weight back to your feet and into a down dog by lifting with your low core. Any push from the arms comes from the tricep side of the arm as well as the lats. Don’t scrunch your shoulders up to your ears. Roll your arm bones outward so that the fleshy part of the elbows face each other. Keep pressure into all the balls of the fingers, shoulders away from the ears, core pulled in, butt reaching for the sky (knees can be bent especially if your legs are tight). You are aiming for a straight spine versus straight legs. Take a full breath here to center yourself.

On an exhale move forward into plank reaching one knee to the opposite elbow. Be mindful of the pelvis staying level. Usually the hip will want to drop of whichever leg is moving. Keep your low core pulling in and up to help stabilize the pelvis. On the inhale, move back into down dog. Repeat 5-10 times per leg. STOP before you lose form! You can always rest and add in another rep but don’t sacrifice form, EVER. .
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Wednesday, April 11

Plank reaching knee to same side elbow

Again, you have a couple options for this one. I like to begin in down dog then coming forward into plank reaching my knee to elbow, going back into down dog and coming forward with the other knee for elbow. It can also be done starting in plank and moving the knee to same elbow and switching legs.

To begin place your hands directly under your shoulders (pointer fingers pointing straight forward), keep your chest open, try not to round the upper back nor let your spine fall through your shoulder blades, press down into the floor to put a little more distance between you and the mat. Look at your hands to keep your neck in line with your spine. Step one foot back at a time, legs hip width apart. Reach your heals back and engage your quadraceps (front of the thigh). Keeping the core engaged, neck in line with the spine, arms pressing down and shoulders open.

Transfer your weight back to your feet and into a down dog by lifting with your low core. Any push from the arms comes from the tricep side of the arm as well as the lats. Don’t scrunch your shoulders up to your ears. Roll your arm bones outward so that the fleshy part of the elbows face each other. Keep pressure into all the balls of the fingers, shoulders away from the ears, core pulled in, butt reaching for the sky (knees can be bent especially if your legs are tight). You are aiming for a straight spine versus straight legs. Take a full breath here to center yourself.

On an exhale move forward into plank reaching one knee to the same elbow. Be mindful of the pelvis staying level. Usually the hip will want to drop of whichever leg is moving. Keep your low core pulling in and up to help stabilize the pelvis. On the inhale, move back into down dog. Repeat 5-10 times per leg. STOP before you lose form! You can always rest and add in another rep but don’t sacrifice form, EVER.
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Thursday, April 12

Plank on the Ball

So getting into this one may be harder than holding the plank itself. I like to get my ball place one shin on the ball and place my hands on the floor. You can then place your other shin on the ball and steady yourself then straighten your legs and push the ball back so you come into a plank position. You will get the most support with the ball under your thighs. If you want to challenge yourself a little more walk your hands forward so that just your shins are on the ball.

Make sure your hands are directly under your shoulders (pointer fingers pointing straight forward), keep your chest open, try not to round the upper back nor let your spine fall through your shoulder blades, press down into the floor to put a little more distance between you and the mat. Look at your hands to keep your neck in line with your spine. Pull your core in and up. Keep the legs active by pressing your legs together and keeping the quads engaged. Hold for 30 seconds or longer. Repeat 3-5 times. STOP before you lose form! You can always rest and add in another rep but don’t sacrifice form, EVER.
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Friday, April 13

Uneven Plank

To begin place your hands directly under your shoulders (pointer fingers pointing straight forward), keep your chest open, try not to round the upper back nor let your spine fall through your shoulder blades, press down into the floor to put a little more distance between you and the mat. Look at your hands to keep your neck in line with your spine. Step one foot back at a time, legs hip width apart. Reach your heals back and engage your quadraceps (front of the thigh). Keeping the core engaged, neck in line with the spine, arms pressing down and shoulders open.

In this uneven plank you will go from a straight arm plank to a forearm plank and back up to a straight arm plank one arm at a time. So from your straight arm plank lower down to your right forearm, then to your left forearm. Then place your right hand on the mat and begin to press up while placing your left hand on the mat and continuing to press yourself back up into a straight arm plank. Repeat 3-5 times leading with the right arm the 3-5 times leading with your left arm. Keep your legs active and your core pull in tight.
Saturday, April 14

Plank Jacks

You will want to be in socks or place a cloth under your feet for this plank variation. To begin place your hands directly under your shoulders (pointer fingers pointing straight forward), keep your chest open, try not to round the upper back nor let your spine fall through your shoulder blades, press down into the floor to put a little more distance between you and the mat. Look at your hands to keep your neck in line with your spine. Step one foot back at a time (to your cloths if you are using them), legs together. Reach your heals back and engage your quadraceps (front of the thigh). Keeping the core engaged, neck in line with the spine, arms pressing down and shoulders open.

Holding your plank and keeping your legs straight, begin to slide your legs apart and back together. Make sure you aren’t sacrificing your lumbar spine, keep your core in tight. You can count and do 10 and do 3-5 sets. Or you can choose to time yourself and do the jacks for 30 seconds and repeat for 3-5 sets. STOP before you lose form! You can always rest and add in another set but don’t sacrifice form, EVER. If the video below doesn't load you can find it on our Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/Core-Wisdom-152569015466/
Monday April 16

One Arm Plank

Placing your hands directly under your shoulders, keep your chest open, try not to round the upper back (like an angry cat) nor let your spine fall through your shoulder blades, press down into the floor to put a little more distance between you and the mat. Look at your hands to keep your neck in line with your spine. Step one foot back at a time, legs hip width apart. Reach your heals back and engage your quadriceps (front of the thigh). Keeping the core engaged, neck in line with the spine, arms pressing down and shoulders open, hold and breathe for 10 seconds.

Ground down through your right hand and left foot then lift the left hand off the floor and reach it straight out to the left. Replace your hand on the floor. Ground down through your left hand and right foot and reach it straight out to the right. Try not to shift your body side to side. You’ll need some serious core to stabilize your torso and pelvis. Go for 3 reps per side, rest and repeat 2-3 more sets. STOP before you lose form! You can always add in another set but don’t sacrifice form, EVER.
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Tuesday, April 17

Plank moving hand weight

You will want one hand weight, it doesn’t need to be heavy. That’s not the point, holding a solid plank is. (This weight is too heavy for me to maintain a solid plank as you will see, but is all I had at the time of the photo.) Placing your hands directly under your shoulders, keep your chest open, try not to round the upper back (like an angry cat) nor let your spine fall through your shoulder blades, press down into the floor to put a little more distance between you and the mat. Look at your hands to keep your neck in line with your spine. Step one foot back at a time, legs hip width apart. Reach your heals back and engage your quadriceps (front of the thigh). Keeping the core engaged, neck in line with the spine, arms pressing down and shoulders open.

Place the hand weight just behind your right hand. Keeping a solid plank grab the weight with your left hand and place it just a bit behind where your left hand was planted. Then grab the weight with your right hand and move it back to where it started. Repeat 3-5 times per hand, rest and repeat 3-5 sets. STOP before you lose form! You can always rest and add in another set but don’t sacrifice form, EVER.
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Wednesday, April 18

Plank on ball

Place your hands just above the sides of your fitball, arms straight and step back into your plank position. Be aware of wrist compression and take your hands down the sides of the ball a little bit if there is a big crease in the wrist. Make sure shoulders are over your hands. Don’t sag your torso through your shoulders, press down into the ball to lift your torso and engage your core. The ball will wobble around which provides us a great challenge to stay as stable as possible. Keep the heels reaching back and the quads engaged and low core lifted. Hold for 30 seconds to a minute and repeat 3-5 times. STOP before you lose form! You can always rest and add in another set but don’t sacrifice form, EVER.
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Thursday, April 19

Plank with pike on ball

We’ve only gotten on the ball once before and it can be a challenge in and of itself. I like to get my ball and place one shin on the ball and my hands on the floor a little wider than shoulder width. You can then place your other shin on the ball, steady yourself then straighten your legs and push the ball back so you come into a plank position. Walk yourself backwards so that the ball comes under your thighs.

Lead by lifting your low core and aiming your crown down to the floor and lift yourself into a pike position. The more you lead with your crown the higher your hips will come. Repeat 3-5 times, rest and repeat 3-5 sets. STOP before you lose form! You can always rest and add in another set but don’t sacrifice form, EVER.
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Friday, April 20

Pilates Twist 2

This is a Pilates mat exercise so it may be familiar to many of you. You will begin seated in a “mermaid” position. Your top foot in front of your bottom foot, you want a decent amount of space between your butt and your feet and your hand a bit away from your hip. If your right hand is on the mat, your left foot will be in front. You will push up into a side plank, weight pretty even on both feet and your shoulder over your wrist. From here you will spin on your toes and come into a one arm plank. Think of rotating like a pencil in a sharpener. Your left arm will be reaching forward and your feet will be about hip width apart. Rotate back to your side plank then sit back down to your starting position. Repeat 3-6 times and do the other side. STOP before you lose form! You can always rest and add in another set but don’t sacrifice form, EVER.

And here you'll also get see my trusty side kick, Omar.
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Saturday, April 21

Side Plank with top elbow to top knee

Begin by placing your hand directly under your shoulder and stepping your feet out to your side so that you are in a side plank position. You need to press your hand down into the mat to engage under your shoulder joint and lift your under side away from the mat. Legs straight and apart with your top arm reaching over your head, creating some length through the whole length of your top side. Press down into the feet to help lift the hips and ribs away from the floor. Look straight ahead to keep the neck and head in line with your spine. Get yourself solid then as steady as you can bring your top knee and top elbow toward each other. They can touch but that isn’t necessarily the goal, keeping your balance is. Go for 5-10 touches per side. STOP before you lose form! You can always add in another set but don’t sacrifice form, EVER.
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Monday, April 23

Side Plank with bottom knee to top elbow

Begin by placing your hand directly under your shoulder and stepping your feet out to your side so that you are in a side plank position. You need to press your hand down into the mat to engage under your shoulder joint and lift your under side away from the mat. Legs straight and apart with your top arm reaching over your head, creating some length through the whole length of your top side. Press down into the feet to help lift the hips and ribs away from the floor. Look straight ahead to keep the neck and head in line with your spine. Get yourself solid then as steady as you can bring your bottom knee and top elbow toward each other. They can touch but that isn’t necessarily the goal, keeping your balance is. Go for 5-10 touches per side. STOP before you lose form! You can always add in another set but don’t sacrifice form, EVER.
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Tuesday, April 24

Reverse Plank

Sit on the floor with your legs extended out in front you. Place your hands behind you, fingers facing you. Straighten your arms and lift your hips with your legs straight. Your feet may not stay flat on the floor. You are trying to make a straight line with the front of your body, using the glutes to press your hips up. You can hold this position, just trying to keep your hips up and your neck extended up through your shoulders. If this feels comfortable you can add in a leg kick still trying to maintain the hips up and the shoulders not scrunched up to the ears. If staying stable in the position hold for 30 seconds to a minute for 3-5 sets. If adding in the kicks you’ll go for 3-5 per leg for 3 sets. STOP before you lose form! You can always add in another set but don’t sacrifice form, EVER.
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Wednesday, April 25

Side plank with rotation

Find yourself in a forearm side plank. We haven’t really done a forearm side plank yet, although it was an option. Sit on the floor and place your elbow under your shoulder and step your legs out to the side. Your top foot should be in front of your bottom foot with the legs straight. Press down into the floor with your forearm to lift your side body away from the floor (don’t sag) as your free arm reaches up to the ceiling. To rotate, you’ll bring your free arm down in front of you and begin to rotate your torso and legs. You’ll spin onto your toes as you reach under your planted shoulder. Try to keep your hips between your shoulders and your feet, don’t stick you butt in the air as you rotate (like I did in this picture). With control return to your side plank position. Repeat 5-8 times. STOP before you lose form! You can always add in another set but don’t sacrifice form, EVER.
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Thursday, April 26

X Plank

This is a straight up plank except that you are taking your feet and hands wider than your torso. If you have shoulder issues, take this one easy. Start just a little but wider and work your way out staying true to your shoulder strength. Get yourself into a plank. Get your core engaged and step your feet hip width, wider if you can. But don’t let your pelvis or low back sag. Then begin to walk your hands apart, bringing your body into an “X” shape. Hold for 30 seconds to a minute and repeat 3-5 times. STOP before you lose form! You can always add in another set but don’t sacrifice form, EVER.
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Friday, April 27

Plank with opposites off floor

Find your traditional plank position. Hands under your shoulders, feet hip width apart (or maybe a little wider), reaching your heels back to engage quads and lift core while pressing the floor away to keep the upper spine from sagging through the shoulder blades. Focus your thoughts on not shifting side to side or sagging through the spine. Simultaneously lift your right arm and your left foot. It helps to think about reaching them away from your center versus just lifting them off the floor. Place them back down and repeat with the left arm and right foot. Go back and forth from side to side 3-5 times with as much control as you can muster. Rest in between if needed so you can do the move with as little movement as possible. STOP before you lose form! You can always add in another set but don’t sacrifice form, EVER.
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Saturday, April 28

Plank with feet on wall

This is our FINAL plank of the month. Thank you for coming along this journey with me. Don’t you feel stronger? I do! We’ve been building up to this one. It may be best to have your shoes on for this just so you stick to the wall better and if your feet do slide down your toes have a little protection. Place your hands on the floor and reach one leg behind you, straighten the leg, so that you can put your foot flat on the wall at the level of your pelvis. Walk your hands forward or back to get you the right distance from the wall to put you in a proper plank position. Steady yourself, get your core pulled in, shoulders back and your chest lifting from the floor and step the other foot up to the wall to meet your other foot. Push the wall away with your feet, lift your quads and pull up that core! It is a bit easier to have your feet higher than in line with your spine. Hold for as long as you can. Don’t forget to breathe! Feel free to repeat a few times. STOP before you lose form! You can always add in another set but don’t sacrifice form, EVER.

I want to thank Jerry, a Core Wisdom veteran, for doing the plank challenge along with me. He is seen here with me for this final plank!
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