The 4-Week Plank Challenge

Core strength isn't just about having a killer six-pack. Strengthening this area of your body — which also includes your pelvic floor and obliques — is key to everything from improving your balance and running form to tightening your glutes and yes, even sculpting your abs.

Whether you’re a beginner or an old pro, planks are the perfect way to tone and tighten your entire body. (Image: Ken Stachnik/LIVESTRONG.COM)

A strong core can prevent back pain and injury from everyday movements like chasing the kids around and picking up heavy boxes. The perfect move that checks all of these boxes? You guessed it — planks!

Why You Should Join the Plank Challenge

Build an overall stronger, healthier and sexier body by joining our 4-Week Plank Challenge, which starts on Monday, April 1. Plus, get the support and motivation you need with our Facebook Challenge Group.

The plank is the perfect full-body exercise to kick off your fitness journey. Not only does it strengthen your core, but this simple moves also improves your posture, digestion and breathing as well as reducing lower-back pain.

The best thing about this ab-shredding exercise is that you can do it anywhere at any time. Whether you're at work, school or a friend's place, drop down and inspire everyone around you to get stronger.

How the Plank Challenge Works

Not sure how to plank? Take on the LIVESTRONG.COM 4-Week Plank Challenge with fitness expert Elise Joan. Every week for four weeks, we'll give you seven plank variations that'll work every major muscle group, including your abs, obliques, hips, back and glutes.

Here's each of the weeks of the challenge:

Print out the calendar below so you'll always know which plank variation you're supposed to do on which day. Start out by holding each plank for 30 seconds, twice a day. By the end of the first week you'll be able to hold for a minute, no sweat!

How to Do a Proper Plank

Let's start with the basics: Begin on your hands and knees. Then push up onto your hands and feet so that your body is in a straight line from head to toe. Keep your abs engaged, hips lifted and neck relaxed. Basically, you're in the top position of a push-up. Now the hard part: hold! While they may seem tough at first, planks are easy to master.

How to Join the Plank Challenge

1. Join our Facebook Challenge Group to get support, motivation and virtual workout buddies. Each week, we'll be posting the new plank variations and cheering you along.

2. Print out the calendar below and hang it somewhere where you're sure to see it every day. Or you can save it to your computer desktop or phone to reference it when you need it.

Print out your LIVESTRONG.COM 4- Week Plank Challenge calendar. (Image: Gracie Wilson/LIVESTRONG.COM)

3. Get to planking! If you're new to planking, hold each variation for just 30 seconds and work your way up to one or even two minutes. Or if you've been doing planks for a while, jump right in to one or two minutes to challenge yourself.

4. Share your progress in the Facebook group. Post photos of yourself planking or simply shout "DONE!" so we can all hold each other accountable.

5. Lastly, be sure to follow Elise on Facebook and Instagram. Love her outfits? Get her look at Montreal London, Manduka, Splits 59 and Beach Body.

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