The 12 Hour Plank
Some time last year, I was talking to a colleague who is about the same age as my father. He told me that every day he does 2 minutes of planking. As someone who thrives off consistency (hello Happiness is), I was immediately intrigued. And, as someone who often ended high school track practices in wall sit competitions with my best friends, I figured a 2-minute plank would be a breeze.
So on August 10, 2021, I got on my forearms and started a timer. About 45 seconds in I felt my back perspiring. Turns out 2 minutes can feel like an eternity. The stopwatch went off and I collapsed onto the carpet, dramatically panting. Then, the next morning, I did it again.
The first few weeks I felt a lot of immediate changes in my body. The muscles in my shoulders and back felt different in ways I couldn’t quite pinpoint or explain. But I felt stronger. On September 1, (3 weeks after starting) I wrote a blog post about it. I reflected, “Some days are still harder than others—pending when I do them and what other physical activity I have done that day. But in general, I can feel my body getting stronger. I can feel my mind getting stronger as well.”
It’s now been one full year of daily planks. I am shocked at the way this morning ritual continues to surprise me. But I was even more shocked when I did some quick math. Two minutes for 365 days is 730 minutes. Divided by 60 is… 12.17 hours. Over 12 hours of planking.
When relaying this realization to my partner’s brother, he joked that I could just do a 12-hour plank now and save myself the daily routine. But the more I thought about it, the more it lodged into my brain as something meaningful.
Taking two minutes out of my morning feels like nothing. I’ve now planked with my best friend on her wedding day, planked with my partner’s cat innocently crawling into my baggy pajama top, planked in two countries and ten states and more yoga mats, tiled floors, and living room rugs than I could count.
Somehow, no matter how late I woke up or how busy the day was, I found my 2 minutes. And those two minutes may not seem like a lot. But how quickly two minutes becomes 12 hours.
Now, I know I can’t plank for 12 hours. (I actually tried to “celebrate” the one year anniversary by planking until I started to lose my form and ended up tapping out at a little over 3 minutes.) But anyway, that’s not what this is about. It’s about the idea that, by compounding simple actions day after day, we can build a really strong foundation.
My body is physically stronger than it was on August 10, 2021. I feel it in the way I respond to my morning planks. But my mind is also mentally stronger. I feel it in the way I’ve regained confidence in my athleticism and the little reminders I give myself on long runs that every workout can be managed by taking another deep breath and hanging in there.
Close your eyes and think of something you’d like to be better at. Painting? Think of something you’d like to spend more time doing. Reading? Think of a habit you’d like to adopt for yourself. A routine sleep schedule? Whatever it is, think of what it would look like to devote set time to it for a year. Whether 2 minutes each day, 15 minutes every Saturday morning, or an hour on the first Tuesday of the month. Whatever it is, make a commitment to it and to yourself. And then follow through. Discover your 12 hour plank. See what it feels like next August. Embrace how it changes you. And allow yourself to commit to the growth it will bring.