Strength and stamina support your body physically while boosting your mindset on healthy habits for life. We reached out to Ana Reisdorf, writer and mother of two, to show what a commitment to a 30-day plank challenge could do. Here's her experience. Your results may vary. Always ask your doctor before trying a new exercise regimen. Best of luck on your own first day and all the days that come after it.
Having two kids in two years has left me with extremely weak abdominal muscles. On top of that, a complication during my last pregnancy means I've been mostly immobile for the last four months. Needless to say, I'm out of shape.
I wanted to do something to get my strength and stamina back, not to mention set an example for my kids of how to create healthy habits for life.
Before having kids, I regularly exercised and had strong core muscles. Now, finding the time to exercise consistently is a definite challenge, but I know I need to be more fit so I can keep up with my two boys.
I decided to focus on abdominal strength because this area on my body was the most affected by my back-to-back pregnancies.
Your core muscles affect almost all movement. Having a strong core reduces back pain, improves posture and helps build functional strength for day-to-day activities. I know that having a stronger core can help me lift my kiddos, carry the groceries and have overall better balance when trying to juggle it all.
I decided to take on a 30-day plank challenge. It seemed relatively simple, and I could squeeze it into my busy life as a mom, wife and full-time writer.
On Day 1, I started the challenge with a "max hold" plank to set my baseline: 20 seconds. I used to be able to hold a minute-long plank easily, so I knew I had room for improvement.
Laying out my schedule, I aimed to increase my plank hold by five seconds each day, with a rest day once a week. My personal goal was to hold a plank for over a minute by the end of the 30-day challenge.
My initial measurements:
During the first week, I increased my hold time relatively quickly. I was motivated by my commitment to this challenge, and I even exercised a bit more, in addition to the planks.
Reaping the Benefits
While I continued to be motivated, there was one Saturday that got crazy, and I forgot to plank. The exercise took less than a minute per day and used no special equipment. I found the hardest part of planking was simply remembering to do it.
During the third week, my motivation began to falter, and I realized that I really needed to prioritize my planking in the morning, before the day got away from me. With this mindset, I was able to meet my goal of crossing the 60-second mark.
My Results Are In
My final plank hold was 1 minute and 15 seconds!
All in all, I lost two inches from my waistline and four inches from my belly. These results are nothing to scoff at from just 30 days of a one-minute workout. My posture also improved, which speaks to my increased core strength.
As part of this process, I realized that consistency is key. And, I have a few words of advice for those who struggle with lack of time to exercise: Pick one or two exercises that you can do in just a few minutes a day, then do them every day. Popular advice we've all heard — that you need to exercise for an hour or more to see any change — can be overwhelming, but through this plank challenge, I learned that even a little, done routinely, does pay off.
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