It all started 17 weeks ago when I suddenly said to myself- you know what I need in my life? Progressively more planking.
I’d always had problems with the monthly plank challenges because- who can increase that much over that little time? I’d find myself missing a day and then not being able to catch up and scrapping the whole ordeal. So, I thought of a better way for me to have a plank challenge. I’d go for that 5 minute plank, but I’d progress slowly and steadily- while having built in days off. Week 1 started with a 45-second plank. Out of the 7 days of the week, I only had to plank for 5. Then, every Sunday I would increase the time by 15 seconds. All on my hands and feet- no knees or elbows.
This was an awesome plan. And it worked extremely well. That is- until the 4-minute mark. Up until then, the next level would be hard, but manageable with a little grit. Once I got to the 4 minute mark, it was like I was a planking calamity. My wrists hurt, my shoulders hurt- I found myself having to shift my hand position because it was intolerable at points. There were even days that I had to pick my hips up into a little down dog for a second because it just.was.not.happening. Each week beyond that 13 week mark was just a string of miserable planks. I kept pushing forward because I had come so far, I wasn’t leaving without the 5-minute plank trophy. Okay, there isn’t a trophy, but after this I vote there should be.
During week 16- after the 3rd time I did the 4 minute 30 second plank, I could barely swim the next day. It was the kind of workout where you take a step back and go- why. Why am I doing this. To prove something? It’s obviously stopped helping my training and is now actively working against it. So, I did one more 4 min 30 sec plank for good measure and then gave planking a rest until this past Tuesday when I skipped the 4 min 45 second week and just did the 5-minute plank.
The 5-minute plank was really, really hard. Two or three times I had to shift my hands up to my knuckles because my wrist were hurting so badly, but I never moved my hips out of position. I played music on my phone while I watched the stopwatch app. It was ridiculous. But, in the end, I did it. My shoulders and wrists were throbbing.
^Obviously that picture was staged because if I had been able to take a picture during the actual plank, that’s not what it would have looked like. On my face would not have been a smile but rather a twisted grimace.
So, I know I’m making this out to be super terrible, and it kind of was, but let me tell you the positive. I learned a whole lot. If I were to start this whole thing again tomorrow, I would start off like I originally did with 5x per week and 45 seconds. From there, I would do up until 2 min 30 seconds 5x a week and then drop back to 4 times a week. At 3 min 30 seconds I would drop down to 3 times per week. I think that would have helped alleviate some of the wear and tear of this challenge. I think as you get into the higher numbers you are just so worn down that the 2 rest days a week just can’t help you recover. I also think doing forearms would have helped tremendously. Still a great ab and shoulder workout, but without the wrist strain. So, if you want to attempt this challenge, do that. Note- when doing a forearm plank, arms parallel to body, not clasped hands.
What’s next for me? I’m glad you asked. Right now I am in the middle of a month long run challenge (Streaking with the Cool Kids…no we are not running naked, it’s a run streak…check out this post about it). So, that’s pretty fun. As far as plank-esque workouts, I think I’m going to start using the Bosu ball more to give myself different plank options/workouts. Also, I just bought a suspension trainer and I am itching to set that up and start doing core work.
I also own like 1000 (okay 9) Jillian Michaels DVDs that I’ve been trying to pepper into my schedule. There is no soreness like the day after a JM video workout. But, that means it’s helping.
Next race day is t-minus 15 days. I’ve done that race before, so there’s PR opportunity.