Whole-Body Wellness Challenge: Plank Progressions

By the Editors of SilverSneakers |

This one move can protect your back and give you better posture and balance. Here’s how to do it correctly.

The Whole-Body Wellness Challenge is rooted in the understanding that health isn’t just about fitness. This month, we’re sharing fun and easy ways to bring everything you love about SilverSneakers classes and your time at the gym to other areas of your life. You’ll find workouts, tips, and activities to help you build strength, eat healthier, sleep sounder, and be more present in your life so you can feel good—body, mind and spirit. 

Your core muscles have a big job. They protect your spine, support proper posture, and keep you stable no matter what you’re doing—or what catches you off-balance.   

There are loads of exercises out there that can strengthen your core. But the one that experts keep coming back to time and again: the plank. That’s because it’s a full-body move that trains several different muscles—everything from your hips and glutes on up to your shoulders—to work together.   

“And that makes the plank both efficient and functional for everyday life,” says SilverSneakers instructor Shannon Thigpen.  

We’ll be the first ones to admit that a plank isn’t the easiest move to do correctly, though. In this video, Shannon walks you through how to do a plank, starting with a modified version. She also shows you how to level up the move as you get stronger.   

This way, you can reap the most benefits and create your own fitness challenge. You can even invite a friend to join you!  

How to Use These Plank Progressions  

You’ll just need yourself, some open floor space, and a sturdy object to place your hands on for your plank. Shannon recommends using a wall or countertop. You can also use a sofa or chair that is anchored and will not slide out from under you.   

Begin with a modified version where your hands are on a wall, countertop, or a sturdy piece of furniture. Once you can comfortably hold your modified plank for 10 seconds, you can level up.   

There are a few ways to do this: You can either hold that modified plank for longer or progress to a more advanced plank. This may mean going from a wall plank to a sofa plank, or from a sofa plank to a floor plank.   

“What’s important is that you do the exercise safely, and that you do the progression that is right for you,” says Shannon.  

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No matter which variation you do, proper form is key. Engage your core and your arms to help you keep everything from the crown of your head to the souls of your feet in a straight line. And remember to breathe.    

As always, safety is key. The exercises here may be different or more advanced than those you’ll experience in a SilverSneakers class. If you have a chronic condition, an injury, or balance issues, talk to your doctor about how you can exercise safely.   

Bonus Challenge: Try a SilverSneakers Stability Class 

SilverSneakers Stability is a fun 45- to 60-minute standing class packed with exercises that will help you fine-tune your coordination skills and support your brain health. It’s offered both in-person at participating SilverSneakers fitness locations (review the location’s schedule for exact times), or online with SilverSneakers LIVE. See the latest SilverSneakers LIVE schedule and RSVP for classes here. 

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