Planks A Lot!

No More Sit Ups

Want a stronger core? Skip the sit-ups

The headline was music to my ears! I subscribe to the Harvard Health Beat Newsletter, and happily read this article yesterday.

“Sit-ups once ruled as the way to tighter abs and a slimmer waistline, while “planks” were merely flooring. Now planks — exercises in which you assume a position and hold it — are the gold standard for working out your core, while classic sit-ups and crunches have fallen out of favor. Why the shift?

One reason is that sit-ups are hard on your back — by pushing your curved spine against the floor and by working your hip flexors, the muscles that run from the thighs to the lumbar spine of the lower back. When hip flexors are too strong or too tight, they tug on the lower spine, which can be a source of lower back discomfort.

Second, planks recruit a better balance of muscles on the front, sides, and back of the body during exercise than sit-ups, which target just a few muscles. Remember, your core goes far beyond your abdominal muscles.

Finally, activities of daily living, as well as sports and recreational activities, call on your muscles to work together, not in isolation. Sit-ups or crunches strengthen just a few muscle groups. Through dynamic patterns of movement, a good core workout helps strengthen the entire set of core muscles — the muscles you rely on for daily activities as well as sports and recreational activities.”

Source: Harvard Health Beat

Awesome – this is great information to support my goal of doing a plank every day! (By the way, I’ve decided that my “new year’ will begin on January 7, when the three little Flynns return to school, and my schedule returns to normal.)

Now – exactly how do I do planks?

With anything, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do planks. In a separate article, Harvard is also kind enough to detail this.

Planks-A-Lot Right Way
The photo above demonstrates the right way to do a plank. Note these key points regarding form:

• Abdominal muscles are tight.
• Shoulders are aligned directly over the elbows.
• Body is properly aligned so that neck and spine are neutral. Model is looking down at the floor.
• Shoulders are down and back.
• Only toes, forearms, and hands are touching the floor.


The photo above demonstrates the wrong way to do a plank. Don’t be that guy! Note these key points for the faults in his form.

• Head is lifted and neck is craned
• Torso sags toward the floor. Only toes, forearms, and hands should be touching the floor.
• Neck and spine are not in a straight line.

Source: Harvard Health

Want a stronger core?
Join The One Tough Mother Runner January Planks-A-Lot Challenge!

One of my new year’s goals is to do a plank a day. I’m going to start on January 7, and I want YOU to join me! This is a very simple challenge starting at the very lowest level of plank ability. Those who have been planking already will not find this challenging.

The Fashion Queen designed a calendar for us on a PowerPoint document. Each day lists the number of seconds or minutes/seconds you should try to hold your plank.

To participate in the One Tough Mother Runner Planks-A-Lot Challenge, send me your name, email address, Twitter handle, and blog URL. I don’t have any fabulous prizes to award, but I will include shout-outs to the participants on, on Facebook, and on Twitter (@TufMotherRunner).

Planks-A-Lot January 2013 Calendar

I hope you’ll join us and we’ll form a virtual group of Planks-A-Lot Champions!

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  1. Francine says:

    I’m in!!

  2. GiGi says:

    count me in. goodness knows I need the work. :+)

  3. Stephanie says:

    I’ve been reading about lots of runners doing a plank-a-day challenge so it was on my list for the new year. Count me in!

  4. I love the plank. Won’t be joining this time around, but have set the goal of 3 minutes before summer :)

  5. Patti O. says:

    I downloaded and printed out my calendar! :)

  6. Marsha Bowers says:

    Count me in! I always do a plank on my hands instead of my elbows. I wonder what the difference is?

    • admin says:

      I don’t know – I’ll research it and see if I can find any info on that! So glad you’re joining us!

  7. Jen Caccamo says:

    Count me in ! Diaper Derby Adventures-

  8. Brett Dupree says:

    Planks are tough! I do agree they are great for the abs.

  9. Runoffwriter says:

    Just tried planking for the first time last night. I can dig it. Ready when y’all are! @runitoffwriter

  10. Cheri says:

    Holding a plank for over TWO MINUTES by the end of the month? OMG. Actually, I’ve never really tried them b/c most of the folks I know who do them demonstrate them on their palms, and with a history of carpal tunnel, I can’t put that much pressure on my wrists. This way seems much more doable, though I have so little strength, I’ll be doing good to make it 30 second! Still, I’m going to give it a try; can’t ever accomplish anything new sitting on the sidelines, right?

    • admin says:

      Cheri – So glad you’re joining us! You can do planks on your hands or on your elbows. It sounds like elbows will be the way to go for you. I’ll be posting some additional information on planking tomorrow’s blog post. The intention of our challenge is to be encouraging, supportive and to help us all get as far as we can on planking! :)

  11. Joanne says:

    I am in. My twitter name is skypereadtutor and on Facebook I am Joanne.kaminski.50

  12. I need to get back to yoga – my core and arms were so firm and strong back then. Planks are easy enough to do at home – i need to get back in a routine!

  13. Denise says:

    I’m in!

  14. Caren Walton says:

    Just read this and love the concept! Who can’t accept a challenge like this. Count me in~

  15. Cary Haynes says:

    I’m in too!

  16. Shelley B says:

    I can do this!

  17. Kim R says:

    I’m two days behind but would love to join in!

    • admin says:

      Hi Kim – We would love to have you join us! Please send me an email with the following information: your twitter name and blog of your URL (if you have one you’d like to promote). You can send it to me at I’ll send you the info shortly! Wendy

  18. Karen says:

    Thank you for getting me back in to core work!!! I don’t like planks but they are so good for you. :) WHOOP!!!

    • admin says:

      Do you know what? They are so effective in such a short time, that I’m actually irritated with myself for not doing this long ago!

  19. Jessica says:

    Thanks so much for hosting this challenge! I’m so “lazy” when it comes to working out…especially core work. Ugh! But this got me pumped up. :-) plus your blog is awesome! Love your words and the design is cute…in a tough way ;-)

    • admin says:

      Thanks, Jessica! This is a seemingly simple challenge that can really produce great results! We’re so glad to have you with us. Glad you love the blog. Cute in a tough way was exactly the look I was aiming for :)

  20. Darrah says:

    I’m a little late to the party but I’m joining too! I’ve already jumped in as I had started on my own around the same time- so happy to find a calendar and some structure! I’m @darrahdoodle on twitter :)

    Will this be all year or just January?!

    • admin says:

      Hello Darrah! Thanks for joining in! I’ll send you some additional information later today. This challenge is for January, but I believe there is interest to continue it forward. I’ve been tossing around the idea of adding squats along with the planks in February. It’s been so much fun to get to know the Planksters – we’re all having a blast! (and hopefully firming up our abs! :) ) Wendy


  1. [...] Planking (above) is when you plant your hands or forearms and your toes on a surface (usually the floor) and hold the rest of your body straight and tighten your abdominal muscles. I tweeted about what core exercises to do one evening. @onefootthere Maybe you’d like to join my Planks-A-Lot Challenge for January? Starts tomorrow! Would love to have you! [...]