I love a good challenge. Throw the word challenge behind anything and I’m in. So, several weeks ago during a twitter #wellnesschat hosted by @BadassFitCEO on ab core power the idea of a February #plankaday challenge came about. Since the beginning of last month I have been perfecting my planks daily. I love daily challenges like this because it really pushes me to be disciplined. Even though it is something as simple as a plank, making a commitment and sticking to it throughout the month helps me feel mentally stronger and more focused. I highly recommend it!
Here’s the jist: idea is to start holding a plank for 30 seconds on day 1 and add 5 seconds throughout the month. Theoretically, you’ll reach 3 minutes by the end.
So how did I fare? Well, the hubs pushed me to go ahead and start at 1 minute, so a few days in I jumped to 1 minute planks and kept on going! Each day I could feel myself getting stronger and stronger. Some days I was a beast, others…eh, not so much. I endured and reached 3 minutes by day 25 or so….
Oh yeah, I can do a 3 minute plank, alright. But, after about 2:30, my back feels like it is about to break in half and I grunt and scream my way through the last 30 seconds. Hey, at least I did it, right?
Well, I don’t know about that. This little experience taught me some lessons. Sometimes form is more important than beating a time. Sure, I met my goal, but it was not exactly healthy for my back. I learned that I actually work harder and feel stronger when I struggle to keep perfect form but only stay in position for 2 minutes, rather then letting my back droop and make 3 minutes. This exercise worked my patience even more than it worked my muscles. I’m happy planking my solid 2 minutes for now because it is really making me stronger when I hold the proper form the entire time. Plus, I want to be strong enough to hold that plank at the end of workout when I’m exhausted or when it is in a 104 degree room at Hot Power Core! Since my month-o-planks ended, I came up with a few tips that really helped me:
- Planking is just as much a mental exercise as it is a physical one. It is boring. It can really psych you out. Keep your head up (literally, as well), stay focused, and push through. Tap into that “inner beast” I know is there.
- Location, location, location! Make sure you are somewhere you can get comfy in your plank! AKA the hard wood floor in my bedroom or the scratchy rug in my living room does not make for a successful plank! Weight lifting gloves or a yoga mat is helpful, but stay away from slippery towels or soft pillows.
- Get rid of distractions! In other words, remove yourself from anything that can piss you off. Maybe it’s just me, but I am quite moody during my last 30 seconds. I also become very particular…any little hair hanging in my face or if my pants feel “too heavy”…I can’t do it. (There were many pantless-planks done at my house ;))
- Form is everything! Keep your palms under your shoulders and keep your weight shifted forward. And tuck your pelvis! My fitness guru said this during Hot Power Core one night and it was like a light bulb went off! Squeeze you butt cheeks, tuck, and pull your belly button in towards your back. This tightens your abs, back, and legs. A proper plank uses the whole body! This really helps to take the stress off of any one part of your body. For me, the tilt helped to keep my body straight as possible and it took a lot longer for me to wear out my back.
- BREATHE! It’s difficult, but I promise it helps.
I enjoyed this experience so much I decided to take on a monthly fitness challenge! Whole30 in March wasn’t enough so I decided to add a daily push-up challenge to my list of things to do, too. I am starting a little late, but I was inspired by the #nomoregirlypushups challenge from Wine to Weightlifting, Dare 2 Dream Dare 2 Do, & Alex Tries it Out. With the help of a very handy app and the support of my BFF, I hope to work up to 100 push-ups by the end of the month! Got any ideas for future fitness challenges or want to join me? Let me know in the comments section!
Coming up later this week: recap of Whole30 week one! See how I’m doing compared to the Whole30 program timeline!