30 Day Plank Challenge For Beginners

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Most runners have either heard of planks, tried their hand at a plank or two, or perform them regularly. A rather ubiquitous core exercise, planks are popular for good reason: they work. A great reason to take on our 30-Day Plank Challenge For Beginners!

In terms of bodyweight exercises, planks are one of the best exercises you can do to strengthen your entire core and upper body. They can be regressed or progressed according to your fitness level, so they are a great addition to your workout routine regardless of where you are in your fitness journey.

However, it can be difficult to motivate yourself to take even 30 seconds after a run or at some other point in your day to do a plank. After all, when you use proper technique, planks are challenging and somewhat uncomfortable. 

Sometimes, all it takes is a fun challenge and a little structure to get you excited about taking steps towards improving your fitness, which is exactly where this 30-day plank challenge comes in. 

Join us on our 30–day plank challenge journey where we will build core strength and develop a habit and routine for consistently fitting in plank work. This 30-day plank challenge will be fun, motivating, and rewarding.

In this guide, we will cover: 

  • What Is a Plank?
  • The Benefits of Planks for Runners
  • What Is the Marathon Handbook 30-Day Plank Challenge for Beginners?
  • How to Do a Plank
  • Common Plank Form Mistakes
  • Marathon Handbook 30-Day Plank Challenge 
  • Exercise Instructions for the 30-Day Plank Challenge 

Let’s commit to this 30-day plank challenge and get started strengthening our core!

A group of people doing forearms planks taking part in a 30-Day Plank Challenge.

What Is a Plank?

A plank is a challenging bodyweight exercise, which is part of its allure; it’s also highly effective for strengthening your entire core, including your rectus abdominus (abs), internal and external obliques, glutes, and lower back, as well as your shoulders and chest.

The Benefits of Planks for Runners

We often think of planks as an ab exercise to help you get a sculpted and chiseled torso, but planks do more than just strengthening your abs

This bodyweight exercise targets your entire core—the superficial and deep abdominal muscles, obliques, glutes, back, and hips. Having a strong core is critical for injury prevention and optimal physical performance, whether in the gym, doing yard work, fixing things around the house, or running a race.

A plank is considered an anti-rotational exercise, which means that it is also a functional core exercise. Essentially, a plank mimics the real-life purpose of the core—to provide a stable anchor for the limbs, resisting rotation. 

As such, regularly performing planks puts a metaphorical ace up your sleeve as an athlete. Studies show that a weak core can increase the landing forces on the knees while running, and increase the risk of developing patellofemoral (knee) pain.

A person doing a plank at home.

The benefits of planks for runners include the following:

  • Building core strength and stability (abs, hips, low back, glutes). 
  • Developing neuromuscular (mind-body) connection to the deep, stabilizing core muscles like transversus abdominis.
  • Improving posture.
  • Strengthening your shoulders, chest, and upper back.
  • Helping prevent low back pain and injury risk.

Lastly, planks are a bodyweight exercise, so you don’t need dumbbells, kettlebells, or even resistance bands. Because they don’t require equipment, planks can be performed just about anywhere—from your bedroom to a hotel room, the gym, or a park. 

As long as you have floor space as long as your height, you can do your planks, which is convenient for a 30-day plank challenge for beginners. No matter where life takes you over the next month, you can get on the floor and get in your planks.

Two people doing side planks on a rooftop.

What Is the Marathon Handbook 30-Day Plank Challenge for Beginners?

Our 30-day plank challenge is a daily workout routine to progress you from a 30-second plank to a 3-minute plank over the course of 30 days. The 30-day plank challenge is designed for anyone—runners, other athletes, and even sedentary individuals.

The best part of this 30-day plank challenge is you only need a few minutes a day to complete each task.

If you are not yet ready to hold a 30-second plank, no worries! Spend as many weeks as you need to build up to a 30-second plank hold and then join us on our 30-day plank challenge!

A person doing a plank.

How to Do a Plank

The key to maximizing the benefits of this 30-day plank challenge is to make sure you are using the proper form and technique when holding your planks.

A lot of runners and avid gym-goers boast about their ability to hold a plank for five minutes or more, but they are often using improper form. This not only compromises the benefits of the exercise but also increases the risk of injury.

Here is how to do a plank like a pro:

  1. Get into a push-up position, but drop down so that your forearms are on the floor. Your elbows should line up directly underneath your shoulders and your toes stay on the ground.
  2. Engage your glutes and draw your belly button up to your spine while keeping a neutral spine and neck for the duration of the exercise. Your body should be in a straight line from your head to your feet.
  3. Be sure to breathe throughout the exercise and don’t let your hips sag. Actively push your heels away from you to promote good form.
Three people in a plank position.

Common Plank Form Mistakes

There are a few common technique and form errors with a forearm plank:

  • Sagging your lower back: Keep your back straight without dropping your hips and butt down.
  • Sticking your butt in the air: Again, keep your hips in line with your body.
  • Not engaging your glutes: Squeezing your glutes throughout the duration of the exercise will relieve strain on your low back.

Marathon Handbook 30 Day Plank Challenge For Beginners

30-Day Plank Challenge Printout

(right click the image to save and print this Challenge, or scroll to the end of the article for a text version)

Exercise Instructions for the 30-Day Plank Challenge 

High Plank

High Plank exercise

Planks end up on most core routines because they are a foundational anti-rotation movement and are great for developing core stability and control. This variation also works your shoulders and obliques. 

  1. Get in a push-up position with your body in a straight line from your heels to your head.
  2. Your hands should be in line with your elbows under your shoulders.
  3. Keep your core tight throughout the hold.

High Plank With Shoulder Taps

High plank with shoulder taps exercise.

This modification helps your entire core develop the strength to stabilize your body during movement and strengthens your shoulders.

  1. Get into a push-up position, maintaining a straight line from your feet to the top of your head.
  2. Without raising your butt into the air, lift one arm up and reach across to tap the opposite shoulder, and then return to starting position. Keep your legs locked, and don’t allow any swaying from side to side as you switch arms.
  3. Alternate arms.

Up-Down Plank

Up-down plank exercise.

This dynamic move strengthens your core, chest, and shoulders.

  1. Start in a plank position with your elbows on the ground.
  2. Push one palm into the floor until your elbow is straight and then do the other hand so that you end up in a push-up position. Your hands should be positioned directly underneath the shoulders.
  3. Lower back down onto your elbows with control, one side at a time. Be careful not to rock your hips. They should be kept as stable as possible by keeping your core and glutes engaged. Slow down if you feel them moving.
  4. Keep repeating this pattern, switching the arm that is pushing up to the top position every time.

Side Plank

Side Plank Exercise.

This is another anti-rotational exercise, but the focus is on your obliques, the muscles of your side of the torso that help with bending and rotational movements.

  1. Lie on your side with your legs stacked on top of each other.
  2. Push up and straighten the arm on the side of your body that is resting on the ground so that your whole body lifts up into the air. Your arm and legs remain straight, and your feet stay stacked one on top of the other.
  3. Concentrate on pushing your top hip up to the ceiling.
  4. Hold this position for the indicated time, or stop early if your form waivers.

Mountain Climbers

Mountain climber exercise.

Mountain climbers are a great way to strengthen your shoulders, core, and glutes in preparation for planks. They also increase your heart rate and improve coordination. Be sure to maintain good form with your hips in line with your body.

  1. Get into a push-up position with your core and glutes engaged and your hands placed on either side of the top of a medicine ball, which should be centered under your chest, or you can put them on the floor if you are less confident in your core strength.
  2. Pressing your weight into your hands, alternate bending each knee and bringing the leg up under your chest between your arms and then returning it to the starting position.
  3. Move as fast and hard as you can for the duration of the exercise.

Forearm Plank With Leg Taps

Forearm plank with leg taps.

This challenging exercise progresses a standard plank by having you move one leg out at a time.

  1. While holding a standard forearm plank, swing one leg out to the side. Tap your toe on the ground and then return the leg to the starting position.
  2. Alternate legs, moving in a slow and controlled fashion.

Plank Jacks (High Plank Position)

Plank jack high plank exercise.

In this challenging move, you’ll reap all the benefits of a regular isometric plank while also getting a cardio challenge. You can perform this exercise from either a standard forearm plank position or a high plank position. The high plank position will be somewhat easier.

  1. Maintaining a tight core and good form, splay your legs as you jump them out to their respective sides away from your body.
  2. Jump them back in and out rapidly and repetitively, keeping your hips down so that you’re still in a straight line from your head to your feet

Plank Jacks (Forearm Plank Position)

Forearm plank jack exercise.

Are you ready to get your core in gear? We can’t wait to have you join us on our 30-day plank challenge!

If you are looking for another type of challenge, we’ve sure got more to choose from:

Running one-mile-a-day challenge

75 Hard Challenge

Four people doing planks.

30 seconds high plank30 seconds forearm plank30 seconds side plank (per side)30 seconds mountain climbersRest Day2 x 40 seconds forearm plank with 60 seconds rest30 seconds forearm plank with leg taps
60 seconds high plank60 seconds forearm plank2 x 30 seconds side plank (per side) with 60 seconds rest60 seconds forearm plank with leg tapsRest Day2 x 60 seconds forearm plank with 60 seconds rest60 seconds high plank with shoulder taps
30 seconds up down plank90 seconds forearm plank60 seconds side plank (per side)60 seconds mountain climbersRest Day2 x 90 seconds forearm plank with 60 seconds rest2 x 60 seconds high plank with shoulder taps with 60 seconds rest
2 x 30 seconds up down plank with 60 seconds rest2 minutes forearm plank2 x 60 seconds side plank (per side) with 60 seconds rest90 seconds mountain climbersRest Day2 x 2 min forearm plank2 x 30 seconds plank jacks with 60 seconds rest
60 seconds up down plank3 minutes forearm plank
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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