The Simple 30-Day Plank Challenge To Improve Your Core Strength

Man holds plank exercise at home
(Image credit: supersizer / Getty Images)

The ultimate challenge: holding a plank for 30 days. Forget your friends and family, forget every part of your current day-to-day existence, you are about to become the first person ever to hold a plank for 30 full days. 720 hours. 43,200 minutes. Many, many seconds.

Alas, in reality, such a feat remains impossible. The Guinness World Record for holding a plank currently stands at nine hours, 30 minutes and one second, set by Australian Daniel Scali in 2021.

The arbitrary goal of this 30-day challenge is not to break Scali’s absurd record (although you’re very welcome to have a crack at it if you like), but instead to build up to holding a plank for three minutes.

Many people find having a goal is a very effective way to motivate themselves to adopt good habits, but the real point of this challenge is to improve your core strength by gradually building how long you perform a plank each time. Your core consists of a range of muscles around your middle, which are important for posture and movement. If you’re returning to exercise, taking the time to develop your core strength is a smart way to ensure a new regime doesn’t result in injury.

This plank challenge is also easy to slip into a busy routine. You’re required to perform less than three minutes of planking each day, so it can be done when you wake up or go to bed. You won’t get sweaty either, nor will you move (you hold the position), so you don’t even need to get changed into your gym gear and shower afterwards.

In fact, it’s over so quickly, you may want to team it with one of our other 30-day fitness challenges. We’d recommend the squat challenge or, if you’re happy to sweat, the burpee challenge. If you really want to push your core to the limit, try our abs challenge or press-up challenge

The 30-Day Plank Challenge

Designed by Maximuscle personal trainer Paul Olima, this challenge will be as big a test of your mental resources as of your physical strength. Take heart from the fact you will have both a core and a mind as strong as iron at the end of it. The first few days are exclusively standard planks, but as time goes on, some variations enter the mix. Make sure you nail your technique for each variation before starting.

How To Plank

Side view of man holding a forearm plank

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Lying on your front, brace your abs and lift your body off the floor, supporting yourself on your forearms and the balls of your feet, with your elbows under your shoulders and hands together. Keep your back and hips aligned so you form a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles.

Here are Olima’s tips to further refine your technique:

  • Activate your quads to prevent the hip flexors from taking over.
  • Squeeze your glutes to prevent lower-back pain during the plank.
  • Engage your lats and drag your elbows towards your feet (don’t actually move them, but feel the squeeze).
  • Fire your pecs by squeezing your shoulder blades together.

That might seem a lot to bear in mind at once, but remember that you’re going to be spending a lot of the next month planking, so you’ll be grateful to have something to think about.

How To Do The Walking Plank

Woman halfway thought the walking plank movement

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Adopt the plank position, then push up one arm at a time to get into the high plank position with arms extended and hands under your shoulders. Reverse the move and continue moving from the plank to high plank at a slow, deliberate pace, keeping your back and hips aligned throughout.

How To Do The Superman Plank

Two woman performing the Superman Plank

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Adopt the plank position. Slowly lift and extend one arm and the opposite leg until they are parallel to the ground. Hold for the specified time, then repeat on the other side.

Got all that? Ready to do this? Good. Let’s plank. 

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Day 160sec plank
Day 270sec plank
Day 380sec plank
Day 490sec plank
Day 52 x 60sec plank
Day 62 x 70sec plank
Day 72 x 80sec plank
Day 82 x 90sec plank
Day 92min plank
Day 1060sec walking plank
Day 1170sec walking plank
Day 1280sec walking plank
Day 1390sec walking plank
Day 1460sec plank + 30sec walking plank
Day 1570sec plank + 30sec walking plank
Day 1670sec plank + 35sec walking plank
Day 1770sec plank + 40sec walking plank
Day 1875sec plank + 40 sec walking plank
Day 1980sec plank + 40 sec walking plank
Day 2060sec plank + 30sec walking plank + 10sec (each side) Superman plank
Day 2170sec plank + 30sec walking plank + 15sec Superman plank
Day 2270sec plank + 35sec walking plank + 15sec Superman plank
Day 2370 sec plank + 35sec walking plank + 20sec Superman plank
Day 2475sec plank + 35sec walking plank + 20sec Superman plank
Day 2575sec plank + 40sec walking plank + 20sec Superman plank
Day 2680sec plank + 40sec walking plank + 20sec Superman plank
Day 2780sec plank + 40sec walking plank + 25sec Superman plank
Day 2885sec plank + 45sec walking plank + 25sec Superman plank
Day 2990sec plank + 45sec walking plank + 30sec Superman plank
Day 303min plank

What Next?

A fitness challenge is a great way to start exercising again and if it’s given you the taste for the benefits of exercise, now’s the time to cement a long-term exercise habit. If you’ve gotten this far you clearly like a schedule, so see if any of the following tickle your fancy. 

  • This home workout plan doesn’t require any equipment and consists of three workouts a week.
  • If you own dumbbells, this dumbbell workout plan will help you build muscle at home.
  • One issue that beginner runners often have to overcome is a lack of core strength. After completing this plank challenge you won’t have that issue, so try running with this couch to 5K plan.
Nick Harris-Fry
Senior writer

Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.