Everyone always says you should engage your core, but they also say you should marry your best friend…..so, that’s confusing. Aren’t we supposed to pick one? Do they each get a ring?
In search of answers, I decided to do one of the two. I engaged my core.
Alright, before this takes a left turn into a
cry for help sappy, “I Married Myself” blog post, let me extract myself from the hijinx of the introduction and clarify things for you.
This post is about exercise. And the ring I got my core is a hula hoop, but it’s a bit big.
Okay, that last sentence isn’t true, I just wanted to stretch the joke out further. As a warm-up. Because you stretch during warm-ups. IS ANYONE FINDING THIS FUNNY?
Last week, I completed a 30-Day Plank Challenge. It took me 34 days to complete because I had a few days near the end where I ate some big meals and the idea of doing a plank was about as appealing as kissing a toilet seat.
If you don’t know what a plank is, I’ll explain it to you.
Basically, you get in position to do a push-up, but instead of holding yourself up with your hands, you use your forearms and elbows. Then you keep your body straight, hold the position, and start sweating from places you didn’t know could produce sweat.
Too much information? Maybe. But no one is asking you to read this.
That’s a lie. Please don’t go.
You’re probably wondering how this 30-Day Plank Challenge came about because the last time I mentioned exercise on this blog, it was about how I had taken up running.
By the way, if you’re wondering how running is going – it’s not. It defeated me. I could never figure out the right time to run, or how soon before the run to eat, or what to eat, or how to properly pace myself so I wouldn’t be hunched over on a park bench after seven minutes.
It was torture. That said, I’ll give it another try next year.
Plank Challenge Origin Story:
Earlier this year, I came across a post on Instagram made by former Formula 1 driver, Fernando Alonso. It was a picture of a calendar, outlining a 30-Day Plank Challenge and how long to hold the plank position on each day.
I took a screenshot of it, thinking it would be a cool thing to try…eventually. I finally tried it in November.
As you can see, the final day of the challenge requires you to hold the plank for five minutes. FIVE MINUTES.
Do you even know how long five minutes is? It’s like three hours. That’s terrifying.
The first couple of days were okay, but I won’t lie, holding it for 30 seconds made my body shake. That made me nervous.
You really don’t really know what your core is, until you engage it. There’s a, “you think you know someone” joke in here somewhere.
As time went on, I seemed to be gaining stamina. All of a sudden, a one-minute plank was no big deal.
Going from 1:00 to 1:30 was intimidating, but whenever I faced those 30-second increments, I knew that if I could get through it, then the following day would be the same thing and I’d be able to do it.
Day 24 – the jump up to 3;50 from 3;00 was a painful endeavour, but I did it.
It was around this time where I started to realize that I was cheating. I wasn’t holding myself in the proper plank position the entire time. I was allowing my body to come up, like a tiny parabola, to ease the pain.
That was disappointing. I was a phony, but the exercise still hurt so much.
I don’t think I completed Day 29 (4:50) in one go. I was trying to use proper plank form to salvage my reputation, but kept giving out, so the total of my attempts eventually got me to 4:50.
For Day 30, I completed it in one attempt, while not holding the proper plank position the entire time. That said, it was still an incredibly painful five minutes. I could barely move afterwards.
Planking, in general, is a painful thing after a certain point.
My shoulders, of all things, were in a ton of pain. Also, my toes were wondering why I was making them bend like that for so long. My elbows and forearms hurt. My neck hurt. My stomach was screaming like it was in the mosh pit at a concert. Everything was awful.
I did the planks on a carpet. If you’re going to do that, I suggest not wearing socks. They’ll just make you slide around like a penguin on ice.
I had my phone out in front of me so I could watch the stopwatch slowly torture me. With that, I also played music. It took me about two weeks to find the perfect song for
me and my core to dance to.
The song was, Sometime Around Midnight by The Airborne Toxic Event. The song is about five minutes long and starts slowly for the first minute – which is when I didn’t really need it – and then picks up when I feel like I need to howl at the moon in pain.
Five Things I learned from this 30-Day Plank Challenge:
1. Time moves very slowly when you need it to move fast
2. Planks are painful
3. I can power through the pain if I tell myself I can
4. I ended up with rug burn near my elbows and didn’t realize it until yesterday
5. My arms got stronger
It was a painful and challenging experience, but I’m proud of myself, even though I don’t really know how long I can hold a plank without “cheating”. Maybe two minutes?
It’s kind of hard to know my body position from my own vantage point. Google has all these nice photos of people doing proper planks, but my eyes aren’t looking at me from the other side of the room. I can’t see what I look like.
Heck, I’ve always been confused whenever someone says, “hands should be shoulder-width apart.” Well, NO KIDDING. That’s the anatomy of a human body.
Anyway, feel free to try this plank challenge yourself and keep me posted on your progress. I know it’s a big commitment to engage your core, but you can always break up with it afterwards…like I did.
What, you were expecting a happy ending to this post? This isn’t The Bachelor.
Will you try this Plank Challenge? Have you ever engaged your core? Did you break up with it? Why does exercise have to be so painful?