Monday, July 1, 2013

Core challenge

It's neither a complicated nor long story to explain to you how I found myself demonstrating a plank, while wearing a dress, in my boss's office.

He wanted to improve core strength, asked me for an exercise, I said "plank," and he said, "What's that?"

See? Simple.

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Of course, a better-minded, more ladylike employee would have emailed him a link to a YouTube video but I found it prudent to demonstrate a neutral spine, the position of the arms and show off a bit. There were some looks, so to speak, from co-workers who passed by. I'd like to think they were jealous of my form but more than likely, it was my lack of decency for planking in a dress.

When it comes to physical activity and exercise, I am the person in the office to talk to. My co-workers share successes on the scale, finish-line victories and seek advice on ways to improve diet and exercise. So it was no surprise when my boss came to me asking for a regimen to restore his once enviable core strength. 

He said he used to do push-ups and sit-ups like a beast but found the latter to be a thorn in his side in recent days. I scoffed. Of course, he did. Sit-ups are dumb. I told him that he needed to be doing a series of planks - six sets of 30 seconds in plank, 30 seconds recovery - and, as an added bonus, it would improve shoulder stability to help with push-ups.

This plan rolled so quickly off my tongue that I almost felt like a real person trainer. A real CPT, though, would have factored in much more - a participant's mobility, stability, strength and current fitness - before issuing matter-of-fact intervals. Especially ones that were relatively untested.

Feeling a bit guilty about it on Saturday (and bored with ACE studies), I decided to get into plank and try the routine, with a bit of modification - increasing the work interval to 45 seconds. Can I tell you something? Something secret? Forty-five seconds can feel like forever. Granted, I had taught BODYPUMP that morning and did a 1:30 plank hold before starting the intervals but I thought I had more in me. It took all my guts to make it through five.

And two days later, I'm still sore, which means two things -- a) boo and b) time to get to work. 

I figure that if I can put my boss on a plank plan that I could do the same for myself. The goal is that three days a week (non-teaching days) during the month of July, I will do intervals of the following: Forearm plank, twisting knee plank, full-arm plank, plank with hip dip, forearm plank. I'll start with 45 seconds on and 30 seconds rest, hoping to increase the work interval by month's end.

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To see how I progress, I thought it would be wise to test myself with a plank hold. Sore abs and all, I made it 2:16. Here's hoping I do a bit better July 30.

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Note: I was dropping my head, resulting in poor postural alignment and creating the opportunity for injury and reducing effectiveness of exercise. In my defense, this photo was taken after the plank hold (during which I out-planed Mark). Also, note the outfit - dress and Vera Bradley pajama pants that are two sizes too big.

Of course, this could be one of those things that I say I'm going to do but will forget about by tomorrow. Because I can roll like that. Now if other people were, let's say, interested, it might keep me motivated. Just sayin'.


  1. It's on like Donkey Kong!!!!!! As soon as I vacuum, that is...

  2. If this broken-elbow situation has any silver lining, it's that I have a bombproof excuse for not doing planks.

    However, it's becoming obvious that I really should be doing something for my core in the meantime. I do squats, lunges, myrtl-type hip girdle exercises, superman arm/leg lifts, bridges, and situps right now. I seem to have my back pretty well covered, but less so abs and hip flexors.

    So, got a suggestion for someone who can't fully flex, extend, or put full weight on one arm?

  3. Nice job! I suck at planks and even suck more after having Lucas. After #2 is born, I'm planking it every day. Need that core back

  4. Looks like a great plank plan to me - and I love the PJ pants :)