Guys, it’s time to get healthy. This blog is about the journey towards early retirement but it’s also about the life you lead while getting there. After all, what good is retiring early if you’re out of shape and feeling crappy? The other day, my future wife popped the big question. She asked me if I wanted to do the 30 day plank challenge.
I didn’t really know what that was but since I knew of the exercise, I figure it was worth a shot. You see, we’re getting married this year. The problem is that neither of us are what anyone would call peak fighting shape right now. The wedding isn’t until September so we have some time to change that but the clock is ticking. It’s not even just being fit for the wedding either, it’s an overall search for wellness and fitness. I’m willing to try anything that can help me find that.
The two of us do work out somewhat. We hike, and take long walks with the dog. The fiancee also recently bought a rowing machine so that’s been a staple of our exercise routine. However, most of our time is still spent on our butts. Couch time and chair time definitely overshadow exercise time by a wide margin.
I thought it couldn’t hurt to add another daily exercise plan to the little we already do.
The 30 day plank challenge is a simple plank based exercise regimen. Planks are a simple and short core exercise that can be done without any equipment. That’s why this challenge can be so appealing. We didn’t have to leave home and could get more fit. It’s very easy to work a plank into your day even if you can’t make it to the gym or have no time to row or do whatever exercise you usually do.
And I definitely need to get more fit. Recently, I took a look at my stomach. Now that I’m in slowly moving through my 30s, it has begun to like this.
The other day I tried on the suit that I bought a few months ago for my wedding. Back when I bought it, the pants fit perfectly. Now, it became an epic struggle to get into them. I had to suck in my gut, move the pants around and essentially squeeze myself into them. I had developed a large protruding beer belly.
The worst part is that I don’t even drink beer!
I eat pretty healthy but the lack of exercise definitely catches up to you. I guess getting older and the accompanying metabolism slow down also doesn’t help. However, most of the fault lies with me as I said before. This guy is far from a workout machine.
I might not have the capacity to be a machine but I don’t want my abs to look like a big round melon. I want my abs to look a washboard; rippled and sexy and definitely made right.
The transition from melon to washboard won’t happen overnight. However, It seemed like this plank challenge might be a good place to start.
The Plank Challenge
The 30 day plank challenge is simple and exactly what it sounds like. You do planks for 30 days. The length of time you hold the plank starts low then grows longer as the month progresses.
Form is important and it’s best to see in video. Here’s a good one from YouTube to get you doing planks the right way. The beauty about planks is that they’re simple and all you need to do them is a floor.
Many exercise regimens require a far bigger commitment or equipment. That’s not the case here, all you need to do is get on the floor and become a plank.
Do be wary if you have a dog or cat. Pets seem to be confused by these new positions their humans are taking. They might suddenly want to play or climb on you!
The future wife found a 30 day plan challenge on a Facebook post. However, the picture was very simple, had a bad layout and was hard to follow. I, being bored at work, decided to design my own sheet to guide us on this journey. I also changed a few of the suggested lengths to have a more uniform progression in the time you plank.
This 30 day plank challenge is not my own making nor is it anything brand new. I did not invent it, I just adjusted it and formatted it to suit my own needs. It helps that I like making stuff and have plenty of spare time at work so here’s my sheet for anyone interested.
You can print that out or save it on your phone and reference it as you plank through the month. The ramp up is gradual and there’s a few rest days to give your tummy a break. As with all exercises, rest is important and overdoing it is bad.
It starts off light with 20 seconds and ends with a bang with a 5 minute plank. You can adjust this as you see fit or even extend it past thirty days if you find some of the longer plank lengths hard to hold. As with all exercises, check with your doctor before beginning and go at your own pace. There’s nothing that says you have to be at five minutes after 30 days. Take it slow if you’d like but be consistent. You should be planking every day only stopping on your rest days. Doing something daily builds momentum and that’s huge.
That momentum is what makes 30 day programs work. It’s much easier to stick with a regimen once you break through that initial phase of inactivity. After a certain amount of time, it becomes another part of your day.
The reason I like the 30 day plank challenge is that it’s so easy to fit it in anywhere you are as it takes no time at all and requires no set up. Just bend down, get into a plank and hold it for the required time.
I’m still in the middle of my challenge but can definitely feel the core muscles respond. I’m eager to see where it goes from here and am excited to see if I can hit 300 seconds by day 30. I promise if I ever hit six pack level then I’ll post pictures of my washboard abs.
What happens after day 30? That’s the beauty of this challenge. You’ve gotten into a routine after 30 days and can continue it forever. Look at the day after as Day 1 in a new challenge. Only this time, you’re not starting at 20 seconds, you start at 300 seconds and hold until failure. At that point, you can also look into the many variants of planks and work on those as well or add other exercises to your repertoire.
Pretty soon, your melon will look like a washboard and you’ll be doing these for an hour.
Actually, I doubt I’ll ever be as fit as that but being more fit than I am right now will be a good consolation prize.