Training Tips

The Great Plank Challenge: Hitting double digits

Back before I knew Molly to the level I know her know, I made this comment on a Facebook post of hers.

TGPC where it started

I didn’t know her much beyond being the sister of a friend, and I certainly didn’t realize she was a fellow crazy (although a 4:00 plank should have been an indicator). After this Molly and I became caught up in a back and forth challenge that took place over the following weeks. I came back at her with a 4:47. She whipped out a 5:00. In turn I cranked out 5:22.  She topped me at 5:30. Before I could beat her she claimed a 6:30.

With that, The Great Plank Challenge was born.

With steady increases and continued work we’ve continued our plank war. I’m currently holding at 10:06 and Molly is a real-life Superwoman at 15:00.  A face-to-face plank off is destined to be in our future but for now we’ve both come together to share with you how we broke  into double digit planks.

If you haven’t already, read over the original plank plan.  There’s a point at which you figure “it’s already hurting and I won’t want to go through minutes 3-6 again, so I may as well hold on as long as possible”…. it gets easier to just hold on than to start all over again another day. In order to break out of single digits, you have to realize it’s much more of a mental effort than a physical limitation holding you back, very much like running long distance. You have to believe you can do it. This fact became very apparent to me after reading Molly’s point of view on the 10 minute plank. Since Molly posted this, George Hood has since gone on to break his own world record with a 3:07 plank!!! Can you even imagine? I can’t.

For this edition of The Great Plank Challenge, there is no plan. Instead, we are giving you 13 of our tips and tricks to hitting double digits.

1) Don’t look at the timer until near the end. Being oblivious to the time until at least 5 or 6 minutes have passed is essential to going long. The clock can kill your plank.

2) Shuffle your playlist. Once you’ve heard a song too many times, you start to know how long it is and that can kill your plank. Molly loves to listen to super hard music with overcoming-type lyrics. An example is “Who’s Got More Heart Than You?” by Hatebreed. Music really helps you “zone out.”

3) Find the platform that works best for you. Needing to make microadjustments because you are slipping out of proper plank form is a PR killer. Molly planks barefoot on carpet. Lacy planks either barefoot or in Vibrams on a yoga mat with a towel under her elbows. Rug burns are part of the territory of planking long.

4) Keep a towel close by for sweat. You will be sweating as you plank beyond 5 minutes.

5) Plank through the shakes, the ultimate PR killer. Like the sensation of muscular fatigue or “pain” (pain is in quotation marks to differentiate it from pain that tells you something is wrong – this is just the pain of muscles working hard), the shaking will come to a peak, and then go back down. Wait the “shakes” out, and wait the “pain” out. Don’t think that it will keep getting worse – it grows and fades in waves. Talk yourself into waiting 30 seconds more – then another 30 seconds.

6) When the work gets difficult, use your breath. Some people may find it helpful to use their breath in a yoga sense, which is Lacy’s approach with the occasional exclamation thrown in. Some people may find blowing the breath out hard, or groaning, or singing very loudly more helpful, like Molly. Molly further adds, “I realize that these things expend energy, and so it may be that they are preventing me from laying down a 20 minute plank 🙂 But for now, at this stage in my planking, I find them helpful.”

7) A great deal of planking is mental, don’t let it beat you. It’s all about you vs. your head. Remember that – each time you hold it longer than you thought you could, you are growing in mental toughness and discipline, which is helpful for every facet of life and for other sports. Having a little mantra or positive affirmation that you tell yourself – such as “You are one tough bastard!”, or “Be strong”, is also helpful.

8) Find a planking buddy. Like a running partner, it’s very helpful to have a comrade. Online or right in front of you in real life – someone whose time you are chasing (like Lacy and Molly’s plank “war”) gives you motivation to hold on. Our Facebook group for TGPC now has 140 members and proves time and time again what a little bit of encouragement can do for some folks. Molly has even asked her children (older children – ages 7 to 13) to cheer for her while I’m planking!

9) Taper before a PR attempt. Just like you would taper for a race, it has been found helpful to plank for PR after a day or two of rest so that nothing is sore and you are working with fresh muscles. Having sore abs, quads, shoulders, or pecs, does not help planking!

10) Just do it. Don’t think too much, just get down and plank. You can think about it all day or plan all week, but when it comes down it – you just gotta do the work!

11) Add weight to your plank for some resistance training. Rice bags or plates at the gym will give your plank workout an added oomph when placed on top of your shoulders/upper back. Start with a low weight, such as 10 pounds, and build up in 5-10 pounds increments. Or if you have a toddler you can make this a fun workout with your child by letting them climb on-board and hang tight while you plank. Just beware that your “moving weight” might not want to stay on for very long!

12) Invoke your competition drive. Planking head-to-head with someone can certainly help you go long as you try to out-plank one another. Go challenge someone!

Trasie Phan

Trasie Phan from San Diego is quite masterful at initiating plank wars and has started some at Ultra University even!

molly plank

At the Arnold Festival, Molly joined a group plank and out planked everyone with an 11:30 plank!

13) Expect bad days. You won’t PR everyday. You won’t PR every week. You might go months without a PR. This is NORMAL and goes with the territory of planking for such a long amount of time. You might have hit 8:00 but then can only manage several 2:00 or 3:00’s for awhile. Again, this is normal. Pick yourself up, wipe the sweat off and try, try again.

Happy planking!!

About Lacy Lynn, BS, RRCA

Lacy

Lacy has been a runner for 7 years. She is an aspiring breastfeeding counselor and self-proclaimed public health advocate. She runs because the beat of her own pace is what makes her feel alive. Her writing reflects her passion about encouraging others to find out what “inspire yourself” means. Throughout her own pregnancy and the subsequent postpartum months, she noted a lack of information for mother runners like herself and created Über Mother Runner to provide an experience-based resource for those looking.

 Blog: http://lacidtoes.blogspot.com/

 About Molly Beth, BA

Molly

Molly has been a runner for 10 years who run likes to run long distances, lifts heavy weights, and lives for adventures. She is a volunteer breastfeeding counselor and a writer. She is passionate about community – supporting and helping each other to achieve all of our goals. She enjoys writing about the everyday things that inspire her. She runs because it’s her “room of my own” – something that is just hers.

 Blog: http://mollyhankins.wordpress.com

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