What happens when you plank every day for one month?

This is what Jenna and myself found out during January along with anyone else who wanted to get involved with the challenge.

With both of us training hard to try and achieve a fast time at the 2019 London Marathon fellow ASICS FrontRunner Jenna and myself were looking for a way to help increase our chances of bagging the time we are looking for. We both admitted we were guilty of neglecting strength and conditioning so came up with the idea of the ASICS plank challenge.

The rules were simple, all you had to do was plank every day in the month of January. Then increase the time you held the plank each week. The timing guidelines were to hold for 1 minute in week one then each week increase it by 30 secs. So week 1 was 1:00, week 2 was 1:30, week 3 was 2:00 and week 4 was 2:30. As I said though these timings were only guidelines and you could hold for more time or less time depending on your ability. It just needed to be a challenge. The style of plank was also flexible. It could be a ‘normal’ straight plank, side planks or a mixture of all.

The mathematicians amongst you will know that 4 weeks equals 28 days and there are 31 days in January. So the idea was to hold the plank til failure on the last three days to see how far we could go.

At the end of each week I also held my plank til failure to gauge how I was progressing.

I opted for a straight plank, resting on my forearms the whole way through the month with no variations.

I began week 1 with the 1:00 planks and on the 7thday held on until 1:59.

By the time I reached the final day of the challenge I had managed to plank every day, I came close to missing a day a few times but made myself get back out of bed to get it done, I had hit all the time targets over the weeks. Some did feel ‘easier’ than others. Some felt really hard and I came very close to bailing out on them. On the final day I held my plank for 3:23. At no point during the first week did I think I’d be able to hold one for longer than 3 mins.

So over the month there was a definite improvement to my plank time, I found I was a lot more aware of my core. It’s hard to describe but it kind of felt like everything was being held together better. Did it help my running? I think it did yes because I was more aware of my core, everything felt more solid and under control. There was no lower back ache that I sometimes got on a long run. There was less fatigue throughout the whole body. In the past I’ve had issues with my hip flexors after a marathon. So far in training I’ve gone up to 20 miles and have had no problems so far (touch wood).

Here’s what co founder Jenna made of the challenge:

Starting the plank challenge was probably the most difficult part! I hadn’t done any core work in so long, so I wasn’t sure if I could even hold a plank for 60 seconds!
Day 1 I was shaking so much, I fought really hard for over half of the time just to try and maintain some kind of ‘plank’ position, but my core hurt! However by the end of the week I was managing the time, I wouldn’t say it was easy, but I definitely wasn’t shaking as much.
But how was I going to do extra time on top of that?
Over the month I decided to use different variations of planks, from side planks to raising my hands to my shoulders, anything to take my mind off the time! But each day I was getting it done!
It became quite an enjoyable habit, finishing a run and then going straight into a plank, I definitely felt a difference in my core (for the better!) so my pledge is to keep up the strength work this year!

It wasn’t just Jenna and I who took on the challenge though. Loads of people from the running community and IG got involved with it. There were group planking sessions going on during run clubs, people were doing it where ever and when ever they could. It went world wide with other ASICS FrontRunners taking on the challenge in different countries. People were taking it on holiday doing it in front of major tourist attractions. 

@willgoodacre planking in India

All the while tagging #ASICSplankchallenge in their stories and posts. It was awesome seeing everyone absolutely smash it every single day. We even had a group planking session during the National Running Show.

at the National Running Show

Here’s what a few of the other guys thought about the challenge:

Charlotte (@charlottesofia):

In Week 1 I was full of hope. It was almost too easy. It was only a minute of my time. By week 3 my tune had changed. Whilst it was only 2 minutes, it was the longest 2 minutes of my day. I arrogantly said I could do a 5 minute plank. After completing it, I wasn't sure if I could move for another decade.

Overall I do think it helped my core, and my posture. By having my abs on fire every day, I was more aware of how I was sitting and standing.

The most bizarre bit of the planking was how different sections of my abs hurt, despite doing a relatively similar plank every time.

I'll definitely be incorporating a plank into my workout routines, although perhaps not daily. My favourite plank was definitely the day I did the Rubik's cube, and then discovering I had another 19 seconds left on the clock.

@charlottesofia

Gordon (@gman.loves.running):

So a month of planking complete, how have I found it? Started easy but gradually got harder, pushing it to 3 minutes being the toughest part. Have I found it beneficial? My love handles are disappearing, my shirts fit better and my core feels stronger as does my posture when I run. I'm repeating again next month and adding a Russian Twists for the month.

@gman.loves.running

So next time you have a few spare minutes drop and smash out a plank, it’s definitely worth it.

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Geoff Ridout

Fire Officer from Birmingham

Age group: 40-44
Club: No

My Disciplines
Obstacle race Marathon Ultra marathon Ultra trail run

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