At the start of the year I was doing another workout at home in my basement and I decided to throw a plank in there, to help strengthen my core. Now I have done a few plank challenges in the past, and while I don't focus on "abs" the types of workouts and lifting I do are very core focused. I was not very pleased to feel like I was literally dying to get to a 2 minute plank hold.
So I decided to work on it. My goal has been to try to do planks 3 times a week along with my normal workouts. You would think it's easy to just throw a plank in here or there, and while it is, I also found it wasn't.... Sometimes I forgot, I didn't have enough time to add one in, or I didn't want to get sweaty again, or it didn't feel worth it to do one for just a minute or so in order to not get sweaty.
I've been impressed with my progress, but as in business - what is measured is managed - so measuring my planks has renewed my commitment to regaining my core strength. The first week of January I was struggling on the 2 minute hold. 4+ weeks later, I hit 6:31 in the gym, by myself, with no music on (e.g., pretty much as unmotivating as you can get). Next time I will get myself some music and an audience, 8 minutes here I come!
I'm not following a program, but here is the basis of my strategy.
1. Test where you are
I started with a max plank of about 2 minutes. So the next three I focused on building my base, doing a few shorter planks 1 min, 90 seconds, and back up to 2 minutes. Then I added 30 seconds and had a goal of a 2:30 plank. After about a week and a half, I tested again and got up to a little over 4 minutes! New benchmark achieved.
2. Test and adjust
Add 10 - 30 second increments to push yourself forward and don't underestimate what you can do. If you have a number in your head, you'd be surprised at how much more likely you are to hit it rather than saying, I'll just see how long I can hold this.
3. Mix it up
I've been doing "ladders" where I'm working at shorter intervals and not maxing out, doing a reasonably long hold, but again, not maxing out, and then going for a max (with a goal in mind). This has been working great for me.
Have you ever done a plank challenge? By yourself or with a group? I'l challenge you to find your current max, and then use my strategy above - how long until you can double it?!?
Here's some photo evidence of my progression: