Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The proof is in the planking

The proof is in the planking and this calls for a celebration.

"hair-in-the-face" plank
Case in point, I recently noticed my "fitted" skinny jeans feeling kind of not-so-fitted.

I have not been running crazy mileage (it is my off-season, don't forget), and I have not been doing any extra running than the absolute minimum. Currently, I'm two weeks into a STREAK, as a participant in the Runner's World Holiday Streak (since Thanksgiving Day), but prior to that I was only running a few miles every other day or so, and a moderate "long" run on some of the weekends.

But things have been toning up and trimming down.

It has to be the planking. I definitely do NOT have washboard abs (you'll have to take my word on this because I'm not gonna show you), but they are flatter and (dare I say?) firmer. I spent the month of November doing my self-hosted Planking on the Fly Challenge (you can read about that HERE ), which had me planking 6-8 minutes (everyday) for 30 continuous days. These were cumulative minutes, not long continuous planking minutes (though there were a few 4-5 minute planks on occasion). It wasn't until the third week in (or so) that I really started to see the results.

Hmmm, "what-will-I-make-for-dinner" plank
And, isn't it that way it usually happens?

(Another) case in point, P90X. Have you ever tried this 90 day program? I was introduced to this Tony Horton gig five years ago. I faithfully did the workouts, recorded my stats, and took weekly measurements. The first few weeks were SO painful. I remember how much of a struggle it was to simply brush my teeth, because my arms (and, actually, my entire body) were hurting-so-good. Then, about five weeks into the program, I noticed a dramatic shift in my measurements. Although I gained a few pounds (not a concern since I wasn't trying to lose weight anyways), I did lose several inches.....like two inches just around my waist! By the time I had completed the 90 days, I had lost a total of 3 inches around my waist, and four inches around my hips. That's no lie...those "lost" inches went missing even though I wasn't aware that they needed losing.

This solidified the truth of the matter regarding fitness, new exercise programs, or temporary challenges.....you will see some minimal results pretty early, but you need to stick it out to the end to really see the transformation. You don't just see the results with your physical appearance, you will also feel the increased stamina and endurance that comes from doing the work. For example, for the past couple years or so, I have planked (almost daily) for 2-1/2 minutes each morning while my chai latte' is warming up. Planking for 2-1/2 minutes really isn't a challenge for me anymore...but doing it several times a day is. I can now hold a 4-minute plank without much effort, and I also can extend that hold for 5 or 6 minutes if I'm feeling ultra beast-like. I'd like to be able to hold a 10-minute plank....someday (there, I've said it).

"on-kitchen-floor-in-front-of-the-dishwasher"plank
I didn't have any specific goals with the Challenge other than reach (or surpass) a total of 200 planking minutes in November. The Challenge was, indeed, a success. I made it to 210 total planking minutes for November....and I kind of slacked off for the last few days because I knew I was going make it.

ugh...."the-camera-does-not-lie" plank (outside in natural lighting, none the less)
How did I make it happen? As mentioned, I did a 2:30 plank every morning. Each afternoon (if I was home) and each evening, I tried to do another 4-5 minutes of planking. I knew I needed to average just under 7 minutes of planking each day, so it wasn't hard to stay accountable. Some days, I had as little as 5 total minutes. Other days, I had as many as 8 total minutes. There even were a couple days where I had 10 cumulative planking minutes. Most days, though, I was right at 7 minutes.

"Go-ahead-and-make-my-day" plank
Although I varied the planking positions, most of the planking was done on my forearms. You should see the crusty buildup of the newly-toughened skin on my elbows. Total yuck. (Someone, anyone, give me a pumice stone--or a power sander--for Christmas, please). I also did a lot of side planks, and these did some major "love-handle damage." As mentioned, the skinny jeans are feeling kind of loose, especially in the upper thigh area. This has to be from the side planking, I predict. Holding a side plank not only requires core muscle power, but also inner thigh power to stay in position (to keep the "top" hip raised high and the lower hip from swaying downward). I challenge you to give side planking a try and see where you feel the most strain...it'll probably be in your hips and thighs. My only regret in doing this challenge is that I didn't take any beginning  measurements. Oh well. There's always next time (and there will definitely be a next time).

"ouch-this-tile-floor-is-kind-of-killing-my-elbows" plank
So, am I still planking? Absolutely! I'm still drinking my daily chai latte's, so I'm still doing the daily 2:30 minute plank each morning. I'll do an occasional long plank (4-5+ minutes), and I'm a big believer in the power of side-planking. I'm just not trying to do an excess number of cumulative minutes each day (for the time being). That challenge has ended;  instead, I'm doing 100 push-ups each day for the remainder of 2015. Oh, and let's not forget that daily running streak.

"desperately-trying-not-to-laugh" plank
Onward!

Have you ever taken on a monthly challenge? Did you stick it out long enough to see (or feel) results? Did you continue after the challenge ended, or move on to a different challenge?

I'm linking up with Deb from Deb Runs  for the Wednesday Word link-up, today's word is Celebrate. Care to join the celebration? I invite you to check out all the blogs on the link-up....and see what everyone else is celebrating!

 










31 comments:

  1. Congrats on the new you! I loathe ab work, so planks have always been my go to for core strength. I may not hold them as long as you, but I do lots of them. Pushups too. Can't wait to see how you are feeling after that challenge! Next up, burpees!

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    1. I'm not a fan of ab work, either. And I keep hearing that crunches are NOT effective...yadda yadda yadda. Yeah, I prefer planking ;-) There's so many variations, you're sure to get every angle and the boredom issue isn't much of a concern.

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  2. I don't often do challenges. I exercise enough as it is, and the challenge tends to become just one more thing!

    I do plan in yoga, of course, and in other areas; it's just not a daily thing.

    My abs are pretty good (although I will tell you I'm not holding 2 minute plans -- that's hard!). The problem is just the layer of fat that covers my entire body. :)

    Seriously, there's a lot of muscle there, but most of it you can't see.

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    1. I think we all have a layer of "padding" ;-) The key thing, like you said, is having the muscle underneath ;-)

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  3. great results!! wow!! I need to make planking a priority- I can do it anywhere! So 3 weeks and I can see and feel a difference? I need to find a 30 day challenge at the first of the year to get me going!

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    1. you don't have to wait until the first of the year, get a jump start and do it now ;-) The results (obviously)will vary, but if you've never planked before, I would expect you'd see results pretty quickly. Just remember to focus on your form (abs in, butt tight, thighs flexed, etc.). good luck!

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  4. Good for you! I'm doing a Pilates challenge right now through Blogilates - her beginner's workout calendar. I guess it's not so much a challenge, but I'm determined to do the workouts everyday and not miss one, so there's my personal "challenge". I was sore every day for that first week, but I do notice that I'm getting stronger and am less sore from the workouts now that I'm 3 days in. Except today after a killer obliques workout last night! Ha!

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    1. I have never done Pilates....I'd love to try it!

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  5. you are amazing. I struggle to do a 1 minute plank. But I think it's because I don't do them often.

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    1. You should give them a try....just start with 45 seconds (if a minute is difficult), and do that for a few days, then gradually add 5-10 seconds.You just might surprise yourself!

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  6. Amazing job!!!! I took a mini break, but am back to my planks. I don't do them every single day, but do try to do at least 4-5 times each week, with 2 minutes continual at least, and the rest alternating side planks, and planking while pulling on leg in to my chest at a time (not sure what that is called). I too, see results, and my wine/marathon training gut is slowly going bye bye!!

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    1. I think the side planks are killer! It's amazing how fast you can see results if you do them consistently. Good job!!

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  7. I haven't gotten into any of the challenges. I was planking some then tore a tendon in my elbow. That has finally healed (it took a year - but thankfully so surgery!) so I can begin planking again. You are such an inspiration!!

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    1. Gosh, thanks ;-)I love my planks, I'm not a fan of crunches/sit-ups so the planks are my go-to for core work.

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  8. I can't believe you average about a 2 and a half min plank. I held one for a minute a few weeks ago and my abs still hurt:) My abs are my weakest area....I am going to start working in the planks after my runs!

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    1. It doesn't take long to see progress....just gradually 5-10 seconds at a time. Good luck!

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  9. Karen this is SO awesome. And such a great reminder that one simple thing can be HUGE. IF we stick with it and are consistent. I did a sugar free reset a couple years ago and lost 6 lbs. It was TOUGH at first then it gets better. Thinking of doing that again.

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    1. Sugar-free...gosh, I seriously don't think I could do that. You're correct, these kind of challenges take just a little bit of work at a time, but consistent work. (and I'll be sure to tell "Karen" when I see her LOL) ;-)

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  10. I happen to love planks, and this is great! My plank PR is a frightening 7 minutes. I to this day don't know how that happened, honestly.

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    1. I have done some 6-minute planks, but the last 30-45 seconds my entire body was shaking LOL 7 minutes....Yowza!

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  11. Planks are THE BEST! I did a 30 day plank challenge a couple of years ago and I noticed a huge difference in my core from beginning to end. I do side planks on a regular basis and I add a rotation in there as well. Such a great exercise. Congrats on smoking that goal. Definitely reason to celebrate!

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    1. I never realized how effective the side planks were until doing this challenge....I'm certainly going to keep doing them ;-)

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  12. OMG!!! "fitted" skinny jeans feeling kind of not-so-fitted....me too but mine is in the bad way :(!!! What the what?!

    5-6 min planks!!! Get it girl!! WOWSERS!!

    I am doing a plank challenge with my run group this month....I hate side planks but know how awesome the are....sigh!!! At the end of my workouts I am doing the planks. We will see what happens.

    Good luck on the run streak and continued planking!

    Tamieka@fitballingrunningmom

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    1. woot! Keep on planking!!! I'll be curious to hear how it goes ;-)

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  13. We do challenges with our MRTT chapter and we were just talking about starting a new one. I just might steal your idea with the plank-a-day and push-up challenge! And who cares if you gain a couple of pounds if you're loosing inches at the same time. I means you're gaining muscle, and that's a good thing! :-)

    Thanks for linking up!

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    1. Absolutely, the weight "gain" does not bother me in the least...especially since the inches are disappearing. Go for it...Plank away and knock out some push-ups as well ;-)

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  14. Nice job sticking to it! I am not good about doing work outs patterns, I tend to be pretty random. I do plank but not for that long. I need to start working on increasing my times! I think I held two minutes once... I need to push my self

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    1. It's easy to increase your planking time...just try to go an extra 5-10 seconds longer each time. Most people can grit it out for just "an extra 5 seconds." Go for it!! ;-)

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  15. There's no denying it - planks are so good for your core! I've been including them in my routine twice a week to help myself become more stable on trails.

    As for p90x, I did the whole program (while also following a 6 run per week training schedule - what was I thinking!?)a couple of years ago. I remember it was so tough at first, but then I got stronger and better. I lost a lot of weight too, and felt good. But it was way too much exercise to sustain beyond the 90 days. It felt great to be that strong, though! I still incorporate individual p90x workouts into my routine now and then.

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    1. I loved P90X,but I agree...it's too much exercise to maintain beyond the 90 days. I do a lot of the individual workouts as well. Great cross-training!!

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  16. 4-minute planks?? Wow. OK, that is something to aspire to! One of my goals for 2016 is #plankaday, so this has really inspired me. I'm visiting this slightly older post since you dropped by my blog. Thanks! :-) Best for 2016!

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