I Did a 5-Minute Ab Workout Daily, and This Is the Crazy Thing That Happened to My Belly
The Cheat Sheet recently did a piece on a woman who had successfully done the 30-day plank challenge. The premise: Do a plank every day, working your way up to holding it for a whopping five minutes. The story was intriguing: Who the heck can go five minutes in a plank position and not collapse to the floor in pain?
Because I’m always down to try a new ab workout, I decided to give this bonkers challenge a go. Here’s what happened to my stomach — and the rest of my body — when I took on the task of holding a five-minute plank.
For starters: The countdown is brutal
I read this might be the case, but I didn’t realize how much the countdown would take its toll until I started the plank challenge. I’ve never hated my iPhone timer more than when it was counting down the seconds as I held a plank. I swear, it was counting down slower at certain points just to irk me and make my overworked core quiver even more.
Even as the planks got longer and a little easier — more on that on page 5 — I found myself cursing the timer for going so slowly.
Next: Then, I found a solution.
Tricks to distract the mind
The best way for me to get through a long plank was to have music on in the background. At first, I just put on any old song. Then, I found a couple tracks whose tempo matched the speed of my phone timer. And listening to a song actually helped keep me from staring at the timer, focusing on the countdown.
Next: Another trick I learned
Timing is everything
At first, I didn’t set aside a time of day to do my planks. (Because I have the luxury of working from home most days of the week, I didn’t feel like I had to schedule it.) Then, I realized if I didn’t do my planks early in the day before sitting down to write, I had a harder time sticking to doing them every day. Plus, by mid-afternoon, the idea of dropping to the floor made me want to take a nap instead of work my abs.
Lesson learned: Scheduling a time to plank — no matter what time of day works best for you — is superior to doing them at random.
Next: Results I didn’t expect
The impact on my lower body
I already knew the plank position can help add some tone to your lower body. But I wasn’t aware of how much of an impact it could have until I was a week into doing planks every day. I first noticed it when I went for my afternoon jog and realized my calves and quadriceps felt fatigued much quicker. Then, after a couple days, my legs began to feel stronger when I went out for a workout. (Plus they looked better in my workout leggings, which is always a good thing.)
Next: The reason I took on the challenge in the first place
My midsection has been my problem area since I was about 14 years old. So really, I’m down to try just about anything that will keep it as trim as possible. I found pairing the plank with my cardio routine worked double to make my stomach stronger, flatter, and more toned. (Sure, I still have to battle with that bit of belly bulge, but that’s where mountain climbers and high-waisted jeans come in to save the day.) And every day I did the plank, it felt just a little bit easier and made my core feel a little bit stronger.
Next: The most shocking result of all
I had read that doing planks regularly helped improve posture. But I still wasn’t prepared for just how much it would help me sit up straighter and walk taller. Whether I was sitting at my computer or at happy hour with friends, I became increasingly aware of when my shoulders would slump. This ended up being my favorite result of doing the plank challenge.
Next: To sum it all up …
In the end, I still think working toward holding a plank for a whole five minutes is a bit insane. That being said, getting in the habit of doing a plank every day has had a positive impact on my stomach, as well as other parts of my body. I recommend that anyone wanting to work their way up to doing a long plank every day start by doing it for one minute at a time. And add time in five-second intervals as you get more comfortable.
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