Happy Thanksgiving week! I LOVE Thanksgiving… the cool, crisp fall weather, spending time with friends and family, and slowing down from our busy lives to reflect on what we’re truly grateful for.

My birthday is always right around Thanksgiving, so it’s kind of like one big super-holiday to me. True story: I was probably about 8 years old before I realized not everyone gets presents for Thanksgiving. Turns out they were just birthday presents that family would give me when they came over for Thanksgiving.

And of course, the food!

What don’t I love about Thanksgiving? The feeling of overindulgence and needing to unbutton my pants to accommodate the expanding food baby. So to combat that bulging belly, here is a 5-minute Planksgiving core workout that I challenge you to complete before Thanksgiving. Up for an extra challenge? Do it every day this week!

Since having Lauren, I’ve been trying to rebuild my core, and plank exercises are some of my favorite core exercises, and they have so many benefits besides just flattening my post-baby tummy.

Benefits of Planking

1. Stronger Core

Planks engage all the major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominus, the external oblique muscle, and even the glutes. A strong core allows more functional movements while preventing injury. And while planks alone will not give you six-pack abs, planks can give you a more defined midsection when combined with proper nutrition.

2. Improved Posture

When the erector spinae, rhomboids, and trapezius muscles are strong, you will stand up straighter and keep your bones and joints in correct alignment. The improvement in spine position can reduce back, neck, and shoulder pain caused by slouching. Aesthetically, good posture makes you stand taller and look more confident and healthy.

3. Better balance and coordination

Because planks strengthen the core as a unit and not just the abdominals, planks train your muscles to work together. A stronger core has greater muscle endurance and reduces overexertion of single muscle groups during movements requiring balance. All of this improves coordination of muscle groups and improves agility.

4. Improved mood

After prolonged periods of sitting, core muscles become tight and put stress on the nerves. Planking stretches these muscles and can release the tension, calming your brain and improving your overall mood.

5-Minute Plank Core Challenge

Do each exercise for 50 seconds with a 10-second rest before moving to the next exercise.

Can’t hold the plank for 50 seconds? No problem! Hold the plank for as long as you can and challenge yourself to hold it longer next time while maintaining good form. It’s better to hold a plank for a shorter period of time with proper form than a longer period of time with improper form.

Plank with Knee Drops

  • Starting in a forearm plank, lower both knees until they gently tap the floor and then lift back up to a straight forearm plank.

High Plank to Low Plank

  • Starting from a high plank, lower the right arm to the forearm followed by the left arm. Once in a forearm plank, place the right hand under the right shoulder, then the left hand under the left shoulder to push back up to a high plank. Repeat again, this time starting with the left arm, and continue alternating starting arms.

Plank with Hips Drops

  • Starting from a forearm plank, rotate the hips to the right until they are a few inches from the ground, then return to center. Repeat with a rotation to the left and continue alternating.

Spiderman Super Planks

  • This a series of 3 similar plank exercises performed in one long sequence in the high plank position.
  • Spiderman: bring the right knee to the outside of the right elbow, maintaining square hips and shoulders, then bring the left knee to the outside of the left elbow.
  • Knee to same elbow: bring the right knee to the right elbow, staying inside the arm, then bring the left knee to the left elbow.
  • Knee to opposite elbow: bring the right knee to the left elbow, then bring the left knee to the right elbow.

Side Plank with a Crunch

  • Starting from a forearm side plank reach the right arm above the head and extend the right leg, then crunch the right oblique as you bend the right arm and right knee to meet.
  • Do the right side for 25 seconds, then switch to the left side for 25 seconds.

How to Plank

  • For a high plank, get in the push-up position with your shoulders directly over your hands. Placing the hands too close together can cause instability in the shoulder joint.
  • For a forearm plank, bend your arms at the elbow and rest your weight on your forearms.
  • Engage your core by pulling your belly button in towards your back
  • Your body should be a straight line from ankles to shoulders. Avoid sagging your hips or lifting your butt in the air.
  • Keep your head relaxed and your neck neutral. Avoid lifting your head or looking down towards your feet.