My daily planking habit had an improbable start: a tweet. The post is lost to the flow of the feed, but in my memory, it was simple—a woman sharing her trick of adding just five additional seconds to her plank time each week.
I sit hunched over my desk all day, a vision of poor posture, so the idea of planking—developing my core strength, and, bonus, possibly preventing some of my persistent lower backache—is appealing. And when I mention the woman’s trick to my husband, Jason, he’s intrigued too.
We agree to try it out together. And really, what I thought would happen next is that we’d plank for a day or two. Maybe a week—maybe. But to my surprise, here we are, months later, casually asking each other every day: Hey, want to plank?
Here are seven things that I realized as Jason and I created and maintained this daily planking habit.
Want to succeed? Make it easy
This goal is almost comically achievable. Our first week, we plank for just 30 seconds a day. And that, I think, is part of the key to our success. When Jason asks if now is a good time to plank—even if my five-minute reminder about a meeting just flashed on my screen—there is indeed enough time. And keep in mind, planking is a zero-equipment move. All you need is a floor. I’ve planked in PJs, in tights, in office outfits, and most of all, in everyday jeans. No need for a costume change to plank it out.
Our planking routine is simple: At a random time we lie on the floor. One of us sets a timer for the week’s time (plus three seconds), hits “start,” then does a 3-2-1 countdown. Each week, we add five seconds to our total daily plank time. (It’s not always doable—more on that later.)
And grab an accountability buddy
Some days, it’s me that suggests planking. Far more often, it’s Jason. There’s no question in my mind that if planking were a solo operation, it would’ve fizzled out long ago. Like paying in advance for a yoga class or signing up for a 5K, an accountability buddy gives a nudge that encourages commitment.
Bring in a neutral party for form critique
The first time we plank, we lie parallel on the floor, staring at my iPhone screen. We watch three YouTube videos in a row, full of spandexed, confident instructors who share tips: Don’t hold your breath, keep your head in position, try these variations, and so on.
We’ve planked before, of course, but it’s been a while. My form is not perfect. But it turns out, getting that feedback from my husband only makes me cranky. He may well be right that my head is too far down or that my lower back has collapsed, but the comments make me uneasy and I rudely tell him to keep his eyes on his own planks. (Since Jason’s an artist, accustomed to constructive critiques from peers and outsiders, he’s far more appreciative and open to feedback.)
Keep it going, even if you backslide
Once, during a trip to visit his family, Jason and I plank together over FaceTime. But we’re not always that diligent. Sometimes we flat-out forget. We plateau for weeks at 50 seconds, then again at a minute. Each five-second increase gets more and more difficult. I wish our planking routine was flawless—I’d love to have a streak sans interruptions. That’s not the case, but I figure, better to have planked for the majority of days in the past three months than none of ’em.
Of course, the cat gets involved
Do you have a cat? Have you met one? Then you won’t be surprised that our cat, Cashew, is a frequent participant in our daily planking. At first, she’s confused why we’re on her level—the floor’s her zone, not ours. Then she seems certain it’s a new game: She runs under our held-up bellies as if we’re playing limbo. It makes me giggle (an extra workout).
Once we hit 50 seconds, planking is particularly challenging, and Jason gets in the habit of calling her over midway through the session for a fuzzy distraction. We’re months in now, so Cashew’s less intrigued—and sometimes snoozes through our plank time—but often, she’s an active participant, winding her way under and around us.
There’s a side benefit to our relationship
Planking with Jason makes me feel close to him. It’s the most manageable of projects—easier than hunting for a new apartment, caring for our cat, dealing with work issues, illness, family drama, or so many other things we’ve done through the years. But it is still something that just the two of us are doing, and doing together.
Also: Sometimes at the end of our planking, it’s conversation time. Most are small-scale. (As in, “Wow, have you noticed how dusty it is under the TV stand??”) Sometimes though, we talk through weekend plans or even bigger topics. It’s nice, even if it sometimes means the planking portion of the day sometimes stretches beyond the ding of the timer.
I feel ready for more
Most days, when the timer goes off, I collapse downward immediately. Lately though, I’ve been trying to hold the position just one more second, or swooping into downward facing dog. I’ve resurrected my seven-minute workout app on my phone, have big plans for my warm-weather jogging, and am pondering the best time to sign up for a swim class.
Having this just-over-a-minute plank in my day makes me think more about fitness and what bigger, more challenging goals I’d like to go after next. And even if there is no noticeable difference to my abs, I feel stronger, more capable, and just a smidge more fit.
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