The 30 day plank challenge: How to tone up without any gym equipment

  • We earn a commission for products purchased through some links in this article.
  • Tone up without any technical equipment by following the 30-day plank challenge for just a few minutes every day. 

    The plank challenge is an easy ab exercise often used to strengthen core muscles and tone the stomach. The idea is to stay in the plank position for as long as possible to see the maximum benefit.

    A great workout plan to try if you want to lose lockdown weight, the 30-day plank challenge will help you tone up and slim down without having to learn lots of tricky exercise techniques or pay for a gym membership.

    One of the best things about the humble plank is that it’s absolutely free to do because you don’t need exercise equipment. Plus, the 30 day plank challenge is a good way to keep fit at home because you can do the exercises from the comfort of your living room.

    What does the 30-day plank challenge involve?

    Below, fitness expert Kelly Marshall shows you exactly how you can perform each plank exercise at home – no personal trainers or equipment needed. Her fitness challenge is easily set out in this printable table here so you can see exactly which exercise you need to do each day of the month.

    Kelly says: “In this plank challenge we take the concept of the plank and funk it up with several variations and progressions to isolate your side muscles (obliques) as well as enhance shoulder strength and stability… maximising your efforts!”

    Planking is a great way to slowly build up your strength without resorting to strenuous exercise. It will target your stomach but you will also feel the benefits in your sides as well as improve shoulder strength and stability.

    The plank challenge

    To start your 30-day plank challenge all you need to do is download the plan below, print it out and stick it somewhere that will remind you every day to do your planks. Alternatively you could just save it to your phone, so it’s always handy when you have a few minutes to spare.

    The 30 day plank challenge.

    (Credit: GoodToKnow)

    Download your FREE 30-day plank challenge pdf here

    The moves

    Kelly demonstrates how to perfect each of the four plank challenge moves you’ll need to know, to take on the 30-day plank challenge.

    1. Static plank
    fitness expert Kelly Marshall doing a plank.

    Lying on your front, bring our elbows underneath your shoulders before pulling your tummy muscles in and lifting yourself up onto your toes and elbows. Hold this ‘plank’ position for the allocated time (if able to hold without losing tummy muscle activation). If this is too difficult change to a safer position with your knees on the floor.

    2. Extended arm plank
    fitness expert Kelly Marshall demonstrating a plank exercise.

    This variation to the classic static plank on elbows simply requires you to adopt the same body position but with your arms extended, so you’re balancing on your hands and toes. This changes the angle and demand on your core muscles as well as adding another dimension of stability challenge to your shoulders and arms.

    Keep the tummy muscles pulled in (belly button to spine) throughout the exercise and ensure your chest remains over your hands (otherwise your shoulders will get tired before your core).

    3. Side plank
    fitness expert Kelly Marshall.

    This variation places an emphasis on your obliques (side abs) and again challenges the shoulders in another position. Lying on your side, place your forearm on the floor underneath you so the elbow lines parallel with your shoulder.

    fitness expert Kelly Marshall doing T=the 30-day plank challenge

    Pull your tummy muscles in then lift your hip off the floor, pushing it up towards the ceiling so your body is parallel and you are balancing on your forearm and stacked feet (side of foot in contact with the floor).

    4. Up and down plank
    fitness expert Kelly Marshall working out at home

    This advanced core and upper body exercise starts with the original static plank position and ends in the extended arm plank position. The challenge lies in moving the body from one position to the other. To do this, lift one arm and take the hand of the arm to where your elbow was. Then push through that hand and use your core while you repeat the same movement with the other arm.

    fitness expert Kelly Marshall doing exercise.

    It is crucial that you keep your tummy tight throughout and the distance you place your feet apart hugely affects the difficulty level, so the wider the feet means the easier the movement (as you have increased stability).

    fitness expert Kelly Marshall doing the 30-day plank challenge at home

    Kelly also advises: “It’s true that you can’t out-train a bad diet. To get the maximum benefit from your plank exercise plan, you need to make sure your nutrition is as focused as your exercise. Monitor your diet and track your calorie intake whilst doing the 30 day plank challenge.”