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We know you’ve heard it before: exercise is extremely beneficial when it comes to your mental health. But how does anyone expect you to get to the gym when it takes all of your energy just to get dressed in the morning?

Luckily, there’s one exercise move that doesn’t require a single piece of equipment and you can easily do at home: the simple plank.

Although this exercise is static, you should never underestimate its effectiveness, which is quite impressive. A plank can engage a number of major muscle groups, especially in your core, and can really create a full-body workout in just one single move.

So, if you’re looking to work on both your mental and physical health, it might be time for you to try out this 30-day plank challenge. Read on to find out what benefits a simple plank can offer you and how to do it properly.

What is a Plank?

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Adam Levine and Behati Prinsloo doing the classic plank

A plank is a classic calisthenics exercise, meaning that it requires little to no equipment since it uses your own body weight as resistance. Planks also have a lot of variations, ensuring that you will never get bored of your workout. This makes the plank a universal exercise suitable for everyone: beginners and professionals, men and women, young and old.

Planks vs. Crunches

benefits of planks
Kelly Rowland doing a side plank

If you have tried to achieve your body goals before, then you definitely know of such popular ab exercises as crunches and sit-ups. Although these two exercises both work your abs, they are not as effective as a plank.

Crunches, for instance, belong to the category of exercises that target only one muscle and are therefore ineffective. Planks, on the other hand, work your whole core, arms, and legs, ensuring equal pressure distribution across your whole body. This makes for an effective full-body workout, giving you the most bang for your buck. So if you’re not up for a full workout routine, you can get a lot of just one move.

Benefits of Planks

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Adriana Lima doing a simple plank

The benefits of planks are endless. Some of them include improved flexibility, lower risk of back injuries, and increased strength. Another major benefit of this total-body workout is that, like any other exercise, the plank can help you fight stress and boost your mood.

Clinical research has proven that exercise can directly help with conditions like anxiety, depression, PTSD, stress, and more. Performing planks will release endorphins and decrease cortisol, aka the “stress” hormone. Additionally, exercise has also been proven to increase your energy levels.

You can also achieve all the desired results with the BetterMe app. It offers a great variety of exercises, creating a personalized workout according to your fitness level and preferences.

30-Day Plank Challenge: Basic Rules

mental health benefits of planks
Gwyneth Paltrow doing a high side plank

Now that you have learned more about plank and its benefits, it is time to figure out how this 30-day challenge works.

The concept of the challenge is pretty simple: you perform a plank every day for 30 days in a row, gradually increasing the amount of time you spend in a plank.

You may start with a 20-second plank at the beginning of this 30-day plank challenge and build up to 3 minutes.

Besides that, you can spice this challenge up a bit by trying out different plank variations that will keep you from getting bored and improve your results.

Read on to find the top 3 plank variations that will set your core on fire.

3 Best Plank Variations

High Side Plank

how to do a side plank

This plank variation is extremely effective at strengthening your obliques, improving your stability and overall strength. It will also help you improve your posture and balance. To perform a high side plank, follow these steps:

Get into a high plank position: lie face down on the floor and use your forefeet and straightened arms as pillars, and lift your hips off the floor, creating a straight line with your body.

Redistribute your weight to your right side, so that now you are balancing on your right hand and your right foot.
Make sure that your body is in a straight line and you are engaging your core and extend your left arm towards the ceiling.

Hold the position for the needed amount of time and repeat on the other side.

Spiderman plank

how to do a spiderman plank

A more dynamic variation of a standard plank, a spiderman plank will make your obliques burn. It will not only strengthen your whole body but also help improve your balance. To perform a spiderman plank, follow these steps:

Get into a standard plank position, with your hands on the ground directly under your shoulders and your feet hip-width apart.

While keeping your body in a straight line, and your hips stable, lift your right leg a couple of inches off the ground and draw your right knee towards your right elbow.

Return into the initial position and repeat on the other side.

Walking plank

how to do a walking plank

Like a spiderman plank, a walking plank can also add more intensity to your workout. This variation of a plank will strengthen your core, along with the whole upper and lower body. To perform a walking plank, follow these steps:
Get into a high plank position.

Bend your right elbow, placing your forearm on the ground, and repeat the same movement with your left arm.

Now, reverse the movement by extending your arms one at a time, and returning to a high plank position.

Continue, alternating between high and low planks.

You can find other variations of this exercise in the BetterMe app. Download it right now to start your 30-Day challenge.

Making the 30-Day Plank Challenge Efficient

benefits of planks
Emmy Rossum doing a side plank

If your main goal is to improve your mental health, then this 30-day plank challenge is exactly what you need. To boost your results, make sure to accompany the challenge with a nutritious diet. It’s important that you feed your body the vitamins and nutrients it needs in order to function properly.

Mental health issues and stress can often wreak havoc on your appetite so if you’re experiencing a decreased appetite, consider drinking a supplement like Ensure, which can make sure you’re meeting your dietary needs.

Meanwhile, if you’re experiencing an increased appetite, make sure you try and choose your snacks wisely since poor eating can only increase your symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Lastly, remember to stay hydrated, especially when you are working out. Before starting to follow any workout or dietary plans, please consult a health specialist.

DISCLAIMER

This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

Categories: Health