Yesterday evening, I started off this new fitness year with a “return to the 36 chambers” of sorts by undergoing a familiar physical and mental endurance challenge: say hello once again to the notorious (in my book) elbow plank sessions. Previously known as the 5 minute plank challenge, I figured that since I already completed that, there was no where else to go but up (in duration). So the 6 minute plank challenge was born (true story). Same deal as before: 5 sets with max 3 min break in between sets. And here’s what happened:
Set 1 - 5:32
Set 2 - 1:11
Set 3 - 2:34
Set 4 - 1:18
Set 5 - 2:44
Cumulative time = 13:19
Total time is definitely not my best after 5 sets. And my individual times fluctuated quite a bit. But who cares? Just look at what happened in my first plank attempt of the new year! My actual target in Set 1 was 4 minutes and to be honest, breaking my all-time record (previous best times: iii) 4:14 ii) 4:20 i) 5:15) was not my intention. Perhaps it’s best to not think of setting new benchmarks, because then the pressure isn’t there and your body just may end up surprising you. Then you just roll with it and the rest is gravy (straight rollin’ in the gravy).
Although I was practically dying throughout the last minute and began shaking (thereby losing perfect form). But I still remained suspended in horizontal position, more or less, and knew I had a realistic shot (this is when the reserve drive from within makes itself known, if it shows up at all). Then, at the 5:20 mark (when I knew I had set a new personal record), I came up with the great idea to try and hit 6 minutes (come on, only 40 more seconds!). But alas, the body had enough of my numerous surprise extensions on the fly (the mental secret for going the distance), so my arms collapsed and I fell face first onto the exercise mat (after which I let out a satisfying “ah f*ck!” from exhaustion). But not before enduring 5 minutes and 32 seconds of fighting gravity while holding the plank position.
As always, breathing was key throughout, as was trying not to look at the stopwatch too often and focusing on keeping as still as possible to conserve energy. Closing your eyes also helps you focus sometimes, but you have to be aware of what’s going on so as to not jeopardize your body positioning (you doze off, you fall). And I know this all reads like an overly complicated guide on how to hold the elbow plank; I could’ve just explained that you simply maintain the position until you no longer can (but that wouldn’t be ol’ verbose me now, would it?). However, taking it to extremes really does require a great deal from your mind since your body will almost always follow suit and do what the mind wishes, if you want it bad enough (and finding that upper limit is the intriguing part). Either way, considering how I felt at the 5:30 mark (when the desire to end the pain finally exceeded the drive to continue, hence the ultimately failed attempt), I KNOW I can do 6 minutes. And I guaran-damn-tee that it will happen this year, hopefully before the spring *dropping the proverbial gauntlet and picking it up again*