January Plank Exercise Challenge (Plankawayjanuary)

Are you ready to get your fitness plans for the new year started!

Whatever your fitness resolutions for the new year, add this challenge into the mix for daily inspiration and a challenge to keep you focused throughout January,

The plank is an excellent isometric exercise, it requires core stabilizers to fire to maintain body & spinal alignment. A staple of fitness and often used during fitness tests and assesments.

About the Plank Challenge

This challenge is staggered & progressively increases in time throughout the month. You’ll end up holding a plank for 2 minutes which is enough for most of us, any more is likely to cause undue stress and not likely to be any more effective. If you find the plank exercise easy, increase intensity by adding instability by placing your feet on a BOSU Balance Trainer or Stability Discs or feet or arms on a Fitness Ball etc. Get creative and up the intensity. 

World Pank Record

The longest time in an abdominal plank position is 8 hours 1

Mao Weidong in Beijing, China on 14 May 2016
The longest time in an abdominal plank position is 8 hours 1 minutes and was achieved by Mao Weidong (China) on an event organized by Men’s Health in Beijing, China on 14 May 2016.

Mao Weidong holds the record for the longest time in an abdominal plank position and no one has so far beaten the record and the record below still stands! Think you could beat it?

Apply via the Guinness Book of records


Before you start the challenge

This challenge is progressive and you should notice some gains throughout the month. To start off you should test your current core strength with a Plank test. This simple test will give you an idea of where you are now, this can be compared when conducting the same test at the end of the challenge. The result of the test will help you choose the plank variation to do during the challenge.

To conduct the test:

  • Have a stop watch ready or a friend with a stopwatch.
  • Get into the plank position.
  • Hold the plank for as long as you can.
  • Stop the test when you fail or you reach 2 minutes.

Choose the Plank variation based on your initial Plank Test result

  • Under 30 seconds – Choose the Beginner variation (Half Plank).
  • 30 seconds up to 1 minute 30 seconds – Choose the regular or alternative plank variations.
  • 1 minute 30 seconds and above – Choose the Plank/Up Down variation for a dynamic plank. Alternatively you could use an unstable platform such as a BOSU, Balance Pod or Fitness Ball and place your feet upon them creating a more demanding static Plank exercise.

Test your progress with a follow up Plank Test at the end of the month

After a month of regular planking, you should be feeling stronger with more endurance in your core and stabilizing muscles. To find out how you have improved, repeat the test you conducted at the start of the month. The test should be exactly the same conditions, same plank variation etc. 

Plank Challenge Target Guide #Plankawaychallenge

January Plank Challenge by DoctorJeal

Scoring the Challenge

The challenge is split into 3 levels for which you can score your progress, you don’t need to keep to one level, You can mix & match and go up or down a level. Each level has a score associated with it, use the free-scoring sheet available for download below to track your progress and tally your total score for the month


Required Equipment

Programme Design

I have designed this challenge as a progressive ascending pyramid, in simple turns, each day is equal or harder than the last. The challenge progresses at small steps enabling you to become stronger as you go through the month. The challenge has two-day steps where we keep to the same target for two days (we can call this acclimatization if you like). It’s all to get you up to your target time at the end of the month, in a safe, effective and progressive manner.

PlankAwayJanuary Targets displayed in a chart.

The Plank Exercise

Key Points

  • Keep neutral spine alignment
  • Maintain a straight line through shoulders, hips, knees & ankles
  • Maintain abdominal tension
  • Remember to breath

Beginner – Half Plank (from knees) 

Regular – Plank on Forearms 

Alternative – Straight Arm Plank 


Challenge yourself this January and don’t forget to join in the conversation with hashtag #plankAwayJanuary

#PlankAwayJanuary Tweets

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