It’s amazing what a little plank workout can do to tell a story about the role attitude plays in the results we create in life.
At first glance, it just seems like a dreaded exercise that most of us don’t want to tackle – especially if we have to hold it for any period of time longer than 30 seconds. But this amazing little exercise comes in tow with so many physical AND mental benefits – and ones we can gain in a very short period of time.
When we first started the formal 30-Day Abs/Fit Challenge in March of 2014, we included a daily plank hold, that over the course of the month grew to a 6+ minute hold on the last day (in fact, for some, it turned into an 8-minute hold, but those 2 people are just crazy – one of them being the writer of this blog). 🙂
Just about everyone who began The Challenge immediately looked at what Day 30 would bring, and couldn’t even fathom the concept of holding a 6-minute plank! Pretty intimidating. But as we took the month one day at a time, despite the fairly consistent complaining about planks – I somehow knew in my head that each day brought a new drive to each person, and the thought that if they could accomplish today, surely they could accomplish 10 seconds more tomorrow!
We started March with around 25 people in The Challenge (that is now close to 170 people in 3 continents), and 14 people of all different ages and backgrounds ended the month with a 6-minute (or more) plank hold! At the start of the month, NONE of these people felt confident that they would be able to do this crazy plank. But they did it! And EVERYONE in the March Challenge became stronger – BOTH physically AND, perhaps more importantly – MENTALLY, as a result.
Here are some tip on how they did it, and here is how YOU can do it TOO:
- Keep in mind that small incremental increases each day are BIG wins. If you can hold your plank little longer each day, you WILL get stronger. Even if you have to drop to your knees for a few seconds, make sure it is only after you have gone a bit farther than you thought you could.
- Acknowledge that the Evil Voice in your head – telling you you CAN’T, is not your friend (you know, that little guy with horns standing over your shoulder?)! Don’t let Mr Evil win! When he starts talking, before dropping, think to yourself: “What if I ignore him, tell him to shut up, get out of my head!” Hey! Just telling your Evil Voice to shut up just took up another 15 seconds in the plank!
- Listen to a song you love each day, and make it one that is at least the amount of time you have for that day’s plank! Close your eyes, sing along, pay no attention to the plank going on at the same time!
- Always, SQUEEZE those abdominal muscles tightly! Shoulders relaxed in your Sphinx-like position, and squeeze those abs up toward your spine, and keep your spine neutral (if you start to cave in, squeeze those abs tight again or your back will suffer and you won’t get too much benefit)! Focus on this and you will not only become stronger; you will protect your back over a lifetime! Hey, even focusing on that extra squeeze can take up more time!
- Ignore the stopwatch! Play games with yourself in effort to forget it’s even there – count floorboards, designs on the rug, look at your dog, think about what you’ll make for dinner… But when Mr Evil’s voice tells you to drop, take a look back at the stop-watch and say to yourself, “what if I went another 20 seconds?” And countdown as that time flies by!
So you see – there is a theme here. The plank is not only an excellent way to strengthen your core, but it’s also an amazing way to strengthen your MIND!
And with a strong core and a strong mind, YOU (yes YOU – the one sitting there and saying – but surely she doesn’t mean ME) CAN be the next person to attain that 6-minute plank hold pinnacle in this month’s Challenge!
And there’s no telling what else you can accomplish in your life knowing that you willed yourself to accomplishing something you never thought possible.
One focused day at a time is all it takes. Go get it!
Please feel free to post questions or comments. If you’re not yet a pat of the Monthly 30-Day Fit Challenge Group, check us out here, and then join this month’s group on Facebook!