The Ultimate 8 Minute Plank Challenge

Fitness: Workouts

By: // November 10, 2014


What’s so great about planks? I mean, seriously, they’re everywhere! You can’t hide from them! Can they really be that good?  Well, the answer is YES! This is not some fad that will change when the next great move comes along. The plank is one of those solid, tried-and-true moves that delivers on what it promises – tight, strong abs – as long as you do it right.

WHAT MAKES A PLANK WORK?

The plank is what is known as a stability exercise. While there are a variety of creative planks that get you to move, the basic plank is an ‘isometric” hold- meaning you have tension in the muscle without contraction or movement. While you hold you position, gravity is trying to pull your mid-section down. You are engaging your core muscles to keep your back straight. Essentially you pull the muscle in so tightly that the strength comes in the stillness. The struggle for many people is that exercise = movement, so holding still doesn’t always resonate as effective. But that couldn’t be more wrong. Isometrics work and they work well! Try sitting in a chair pose for 1 minute and see if your legs feel the burn.

WHAT MUSCLES DOES THE PLANK WORK?

The plank is one of the best exercises for a flat, toned stomach because it works all the muscles in your core including the rectus abdominus (the “six-pack”), transverse abdominus, internal and external obliques, hips and back. It also strengthens your shoulders, arms and upper back! Talk about a full body workout!

BENEFITS OF PLANK

Flatter Abs
A.K.A. tighter tummy. Okay, maybe it’s vanity but I bet most of you would like flatter abs. But here’s the thing- it’s NOT just about good looks! Having a smaller tummy means less weight pulling in the front and straining on your back. A flatter tummy also promotes better posture and of course makes it easier to button your jeans.

Decreased Back Pain
The strength built in your core during a plank is one of the best ways to ward off or help decrease back pain. Having a stronger core without putting strain on your spine makes for a healthy, happy back! The American Council on Exercise (“ACE”) includes the plank as one of the 5 best exercises to ward off back pain.

Improved Balance and Posture
As noted before, having a nice, strong center is going to give you better posture. Practicing a plank will makes you stand taller and look leaner. In addition, your core is the center point for your balance. When you have better core strength you have better balance and balance is an absolute necessity, especially as we age!

THE 8-MINUTE PLANK CHALLENGE

If you’ve nailed the basic plank and are ready to step it up to the next level, then this challenge is for you! This plank workout adds the elements of balance, symmetry, oblique lifts and low back engagement to give you a complete, all-around core strength challenge. Form is crucial so be sure to keep everything tight and aligned.

Perform each exercise for 30 seconds and move directly to the next one. Go through the routine twice for an 8-minute, ab-building workout. This is a great challenge to add to the end of your cardio workout or workout at home when you have a few spare minutes and want to work your core!

Plank to Single Arm Reach

Chris Freytag demonstrating plank to single arm reach

A) Begin in a plank position with your shoulders over your wrists, your feet together and your body in a straight line.

B) Raise your right arm and hold for one count.  Repeat on the other side.

Continue for 30 seconds.

Related: Ultimate Weekly Fitness Challenge

Side Plank Lift and Lower

Chris Freytag demonstrating side plank lift and lower on a purple yoga mat

A) Come into a side forearm plank by lying in one long line on one side, stacking your elbow under your shoulder and keeping your forearm on the mat perpendicular to your body. Stack your feet and stay in one long line as you engage your core and lift your hips up forming a side forearm plank.

B) Dip your hips down toward the mat and lift back up using your obliques and core muscles.

Keep dipping for 30 seconds. Then switch to the other side for another 30 seconds.

Plank to Balance Plank

 Chris Freytag demonstrating plank to balance plank on a purple yoga mat

A) Begin in a plank position with your shoulders over your wrists, your feet together and your body in a straight line.

B) Raise your right hand off the floor at the same time as your left foot and leg and hold for one count. Return your hand and foot to the floor and repeat with your opposite hand and foot.

Continue for 30 seconds.

Related: Jumpstart Stability Ball Workout

Side Plank Crunch

Chris Freytag demonstrating Side Plank Crunch on a purple yoga mat

A) Come into a side forearm plank by lying in one long line on one side, stacking your elbow under your shoulder and keeping your forearm on mat perpendicular to your body. Stack your feet and stay in one long line as you engage your core and lift your hips up forming a side forearm plank. Lift your top arm toward the ceiling.

B) Bring the elbow on your top arm and knee on your top leg in to tap the elbow and knee together. Then reach both long and repeat the tap working your obliques and entire core with these crunches.

Perform for 30 seconds on each side.

Reverse Plank

Chris Freytag demonstrating a Reverse Plank

A) Start seated on the floor with legs long in front of your body. Place hands behind your hips slightly wider than shoulders with fingers pointed toward your feet.

B) Lift hips and torso off the floor and gaze up toward the ceiling keeping your neck relaxed. Keep your body in a long line with softly pointed toes. Keep abdominals tight and do not leg your back sag.

Hold for 30 seconds then release to floor slowly.

Cross Body Plank

Chris Freytag demonstrating cross body planks

A) Begin in a plank position with your shoulders over your wrists, your feet together and your body in a straight line.

B) Lift your right leg off the floor and bring your knee toward your chest and across your body, bringing your knee as close to your opposite elbow as possible. Return your leg so you are back in a full plank and repeat on the opposite side.

Repeat for 30 seconds.

Rest for 30 seconds and repeat the sequence again for a total of 8 minutes!

Are you going to take the 8 minute challenge? Get your plank on and report back in the comments!!
PS: Wearing my fav Chaturanga Capris from Athleta! Also, a huge fan of their tops. My fav right now is the Chi Tank!

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Printed from GetHealthyU.com

5 Comments


on March 2, 2018 at 1:08 PM Reply

Put it on one printable sheet for each day and I am in!


on April 5, 2016 at 8:52 PM Reply

definitely need a printable version


on September 16, 2015 at 9:32 AM Reply

The print button will only print 1 page so you don't get the whole sequence.


on March 17, 2015 at 8:02 AM Reply

It would be nice to see all the exercises on one screen so as to not have to scroll down to perform the sequence.


    on March 17, 2015 at 7:44 PM Reply

    Agreed and a printable version would be handy



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