The Art of Planking

With a little more work on my quads and calves in the weightroom, I am also working more on my core, but with weaker abs to start with, I was introduced to what is called planking.

How to plank.

How to plank.

Planking (above) is when you plant your hands or forearms and your toes on a surface (usually the floor) and hold the rest of your body straight and tighten your abdominal muscles. I tweeted about what core exercises to do one evening.

It was a certain @TufMotherRunner who responded with a request for a “Planks A Lot” challenge. Basically try and hold a single plank for as long as possible, and increase the time you planked each day. True plank workouts involve sets of 10 or so, but for a beginner like me this simple challenge was perfect.

The first few days were very easy, but it wouldn’t be like this for long.

Additionally, there is a separate core challenge at #plankaday and is monitored by @Plank Police but if you do not post your planks (and the hashtags) for 2-3 days, the @PlankPolice will check on you to make sure you do!

I did not pick up on this right away so at first when the Plank Police messaged me I was like “who on earth is this guy” ha!

When I started, I had a heck of a time getting even to 30 seconds, but over time I was surprised. Still it seemed often I was hitting a wall.

Other days I surprised myself.

I tracked my progress through Twitter, and others on the challenge encouraged me and pushed me, and vice versa. Always another reason I appreciate the Twitter community of runners and fitness folks.

Gradually, though I steered closer and closer to that two-minute mark. I took in the advice of thinking about music or day dreaming.

What further complicated things was the flu. But when I was up for it. I kept on planking. I couldn’t run, the flu had robbed me of a lot and given all the problems I have in life, my health is one of the last and only things I thought I felt I could always rely on. So when I get sick, it’s another blow, and not just because I’m separated from my training partners and so forth.

But I soon started to recover.

Eventually I made my goal. Many cheers to @TufMotherRunner and I look forward to her next challenge in February. In addition to completing the challenge, I had gotten some tips for more structured planking workouts, and I will definitely integrate this into my conditioning and muscle workouts.

I’d never heard of or done planking before but now it’s a very worthwhile (and low maintenance!) exercise!

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