The 4-Week Plank Challenge

It’s called core strength for a reason. And it’s not just about having a killer six-pack. Strengthening this area of your body — from your pelvic floor to your obliques — is key to everything from improving your balance and running form to tightening your glutes.

A strong core can prevent back pain and injury from even functional movements like vacuuming and picking up a box. The perfect move that checks all of these boxes? Planks.

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

Planks are the perfect full-body exercise to kick off your fitness journey. Not only do they strengthen your core, these simple moves also improve your posture, digestion and breathing as well as reduce lower-back pain. The best thing about these ab-shredding exercises is that you can do them anywhere at any time. Whether you’re at work, school or a friend’s place, drop down and inspire everyone around you to get moving.

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 give you seven plank variations that’ll work every major muscle group, including your abs, obliques, hips, back and glutes.

While they may seem tough at first, planks are easy to master. 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!

Keep track of your progress with the calendar below or print out this version:

We’re kicking off Week 1 with all the moves you’ll need to get started. Check out the video below to watch Elise break each move down:

Remember, if you’re new to planking, hold each variation for just 30 seconds and work your way up to one or even two minutes. Here’s a line-up of all the moves you’ll be doing this week:

1. Wide-Arm Plank

Wide-Arm Plank
Wide-Arm Plank Photo Credit Ken Stachnik/LIVESTRONG.COM

2. Knee-to-Nose Extension

Knee-to-Nose Extension
Knee-to-Nose Extension Photo Credit Ken Stachnik/LIVESTRONG.COM

3. Straight-Arm Plank

Straight-Arm Plank
Straight-Arm Plank Photo Credit Ken Stachnik/LIVESTRONG.COM

4. Cross-Knee Extension

Cross-Knee Extension
Cross-Knee Extension Photo Credit Ken Stachnik/LIVESTRONG.COM

5. Forearm Plank

Forearm Plank
Forearm Plank Photo Credit Ken Stachnik/LIVESTRONG.COM

6. Opposite-Leg Bicycle

Opposite-Leg Bicycle
Opposite-Leg Bicycle Photo Credit Ken Stachnik/LIVESTRONG.COM

7. Hip-Drop Plank

Hip-Drop Plank
Hip-Drop Plank Photo Credit Ken Stachnik/LIVESTRONG.COM