Pinterest is flooded with attractive infographics which picture various work-out challenges. A popular topic is planking; an exercise which strengthens your entire physique – most of all your core. I decided to grab one of these 30 day plank challenges and get started. Read all about how an inexperienced planker got through, and if I noticed any benefits!
30 day plank challenge
I found the 30 day plank challenge at Lea Genders Fitness; a Dallas based fitness coach who blogs about great fitness and health related things (including a fun Game of Thrones treadmill workout which I’d love to try if I’m near a treadmill again)!
What I liked about her planking challenge is that the exercises mildly vary every three days (not unlike the Want for Wellness challenges I’ve created – like the 30 day self-care challenge or the 30 day vision board challenge). This means every day you rotate between doing a straight arm plank, a regular plank, and a side plank (in fact two side planks, since you’ll be training both sides).
Every three days the time you will be doing these exercises will increase. You will start by practicing your planks for 20 seconds, and (if all goes well) finish the challenge by doing them for over a minute.
It’s all described in this handy infographic which I got from leagendersfitness.com. Make sure to pin it or to download it to your phone or PC if you want to start out yourself!
The 30 day plank challenge: The first week
As with all 30 day challenges, I put down a daily reminder in my phone. I do this by using the (free) Chains app, which visually shows how long you’ve been practicing a new habit. It always excites me to put in a new goal for myself.
At night, before I go to bed, I get down on the floor and do the straight arm plank for 20 seconds. As I’ve done a good bit of strength-training in my day, I thought I could do this with both hands tied behind my back (figuratively speaking in this case).
The opposite was true; it took me more effort than I’d like to admit. I was happy to drop myself to the floor face-down after 20 seconds. Wow. It looks like this challenge arrived into my life not a year too soon.
I’m enjoying the challenge so far, because that is exactly what it is: A challenge. I’m more out of shape than I thought, and planking doesn’t come easy to me. Every third day is even harder; I’ll be doing side planks, which means I will do the same exercise twice – one for each side.
It even moved me to write a tweet about it:
Luckily, another read on Lea’s website taught me I am also allowed to do these side planks from the elbow. Something I’ll keep in mind when I find myself struggling in another three days!
With renewed energy I start with today’s side planks. This time I grab the stopwatch on my phone to be able to fully focus on my breathing – rather than counting “one-mississippi, two-mississippi” under my breath.
It turns out my manual counting is way slower than an actual second. I guess the last couple of days I’ve been planking around twice the amount of time the challenge actually required me to do! Uh oh… At least these two 30 second side planks went well – even with straight arms.
Pro-tip: Use a timer to make sure you practice your planks for the right duration.
The results after doing the 30 day plank challenge
After 30 days of planking I can only conclude this challenge was a success!
I had a bit of a setback during this challenge because I caught a cold. Although it left me weakened for about a week, I did notice picking up where I left off wasn’t a problem: Sure proof of the fact that I did in fact grow stronger!
My core has remained pretty strong since my pregnancy (probably because I’ve been carrying around a tall-for-her-age child for a couple of years now) but I did notice some improvements, mainly in my shoulders and upper back. I also noticed my feet and ankles started to become stronger as I progressed through the weeks; something that might very well help out with my running too!
Although the side planks were the hardest for me to do starting off, I ended up really enjoying them. By the end of the challenge, the bent arm plank became my vice. Who would have thought!
I’d recommend this challenge to everyone who is unfamiliar with planking, or who would like to increase their general strength. I feel it has done a lot for various muscle groups I don’t regularly target! The build-up is gradual and for me, pretty easy to follow, but Lea Genders offers you solutions for when things don’t go as swimmingly as you expected too.
A definite recommendation!
Do you often do planking exercises? What do you like or do not like about them?