I’m looking for visible abs, and sure, I know the idea that they’re made in the kitchen, and it’s so much harder to burn it off, but that doesn’t stop me from adding weird and wonderful exercises to my daily routine. I started with 30 sit-ups a day for 30 daysthen i tried 100 dead insects per day for a week† and now I’ve switched to planks. Do I already have a strong core? Look what happened when I tried to add a plank to my routine.
Luckily for me, you don’t have to hold a plank for as long as you think to get results – a researcher introduces you you only need to hold the move for 10 seconds to work your core† A plank is an isometric exercise designed to strengthen during the stillness as your body works against gravity to hold the pose.
Let’s start by talking about the shape. Your position during the plank is essential for both the health of your spine and the results in your abs. To get into plank position correctly, start in a pushup position, with your arms placed slightly wider than your shoulders and your body weight on your hands flat against the floor or your forearms, depending on which variation you opt for. Think about creating a straight line from your heels to the crown of your head, engaging your core.
It’s also worth noting that what works for my body may not be right for yours, and it’s a good idea to see your doctor or a personal trainer if you’re embarking on a new exercise routine. I consider myself relatively fit, and my normal fitness routine includes four runs per week, which works out to about 20 miles in total, and three strength sessions, including weights and Pilates.
I Did a Plank Every Morning for a Week – Here’s What Happened
The week prior to this challenge I had done 100 dead bugs most mornings (here’s how do you do a dead bug? with perfect shape) so I had kind of gotten used to starting my day with some kind of belly-based torture. I started the challenge with a one-minute plank, which felt enough to give me that inner ab shake, without compromising my form and arching my back.
On days two and three, I crawled up the plank by 10 seconds each day as a personal challenge. Since I suffer from sciatica, I did the exercise in front of a mirror to make sure I kept my hips in the correct position – if your hips are too high you make the plank easier by releasing some of the tension from the core. and if they are too low, you can put too much pressure on your lower back.
Planks are a pretty regular part of my workout routine, but doing them every day really makes me think about my technique — sucking my abs into my spine and pulling my glutes into the plank.
On day four, when I went to bed, I realized I hadn’t done my plank yet because I had been in the office all day. With an eye roll, I did a 1 minute 30 second plank in my pajamas with my energetic Cocker Spaniel trying to crawl under my tummy for some extra core training. It’s a glamorous life I lead.
Day five and six I decided to mix things up by adding some movement to the plank – I set the timer back to a minute but added seesaws – rocking my body weight back and forth, and hip dips, dropping one hip to the floor and then to the other side to intensify the movement. These definitely forced me to work harder, and I will be adding them to my core workouts in the future.
And then I was finally on day seven. For the last day of my challenge, I set the timer to 2 minutes and ignored my trembling core for the longest 120 seconds of my life.
The lessons learned after a week of planking? Of course I didn’t get up from my yoga mat with a six pack, as we said before, defined abs depend on a low body fat percentage. (Here is how to calculate your body fat percentage†) But I did feel like my core felt pretty strong.
As with my dead bug challenge, I also found that the daily plank helped me use my core better while running, during Pilates classes or just with the dog. While it may sound like something a fitness instructor yells for fun, keeping your core engaged really boosts your performance and allows you to run, walk, and strength train with better posture.
Personally, I found the dead bugs to be kinder to my lower back than the planks, but I’ll keep them in my routine going forward. What’s the next ab challenge I hear you ask? View this space.
Looking for more training inspiration? This is what happened when I Tried Carrie Underwood’s Leg Workoutand the $20 Amazon Purchase That Toned My Abs†