Illustration of a person doing a plank with a thought bubble that says
(Illustration: Brendan Leonard)

I Did A Plank Every Day For 120 Days. Here’s What Happened.

Do I like planks any more than I did at the start of this challenge? Ehhh...

Illustration of a person doing a plank with a thought bubble that says
Brendan Leonard

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I did a plank every day for 120 consecutive days and here’s what I learned: I do not like doing planks. [check box checked] I did not like doing them before I started this streak, and I do not like them now. My opinion has not changed. [drawing of person doing plank and thinking FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU]
(All illustrations: Brendan Leonard)
I don’t remember how I got started doing one 60-second plank every day, but on December 5th, 2022, I did one. The next day, I did another one. And then I just kept going. [drawing of calendars for December, January, February, and March] Did it change my life? No, it did not.
Correction: It did change my life, in that I had to remember to do a goddamn plank every day. This would often happen around 10 p.m., when I’d be flossing my teeth and suddenly remember that I had neglected to do a 60-second plank that day. Probably because planks are unpleasant. [Hand-drawn bar graph comparing HOW MUCH FUN, GENERALLY: flossing vs planks vs doing things that are not flossing or doing planks]
Did I feel better about myself? Sure. Did I feel less likely to injure a disc in my back? OK, yes. But deep down, did I truly feel that it was worth one precious minute of each and every day for four months? I mean, I do some pretty dumb shit with a lot of the quote-unquote precious minutes of my days, so I guess as far as net self-improvement goes, it was pretty efficient, really.
I’m still doing a plank every day—with a couple of breaks in my streak since I started in December: Once during three days of a gastrointestinal illness that made doing planks a bad idea for many explosive reasons, and one day that I ran a 50K race and figured I deserved a day off. But other than that, I’ve been committed. And it’s been fine, I guess [Hand-drawn bar graph showing EXCITING REWARDS REAPED: flossing vs planks vs avoiding flossing or doing planks ]
As it turns out, you do not get a six-pack from doing planks—you get a six-pack from having very little body fat under the skin that covers your abdominal muscles. Planks just make your core stronger. Which my chiropractor says is a good thing, because then I can do things like pick up a baby and shovel snow.
Are planks even good for you, really? Depends on who you ask: Hand-drawn chart: Most people: YES Physical therapists with YouTube channels: Yes, but here are five mistakes people make when doing planks Guys with really big muscles and YouTube channels: No, stop doing them Other people with YouTube channels: Yes, and here are 16 other variations of planks People who need clicks and engagement: PLANKS WILL GIVE YOU GOUT
When I was a kid, doing something that was probably not all that fun and probably saying out loud that it wasn’t fun, an adult told me that “it builds character.” I don’t know if anyone uses that expression anymore, or what part of my character was shaped by doing things that were not fun (and whose purpose I didn’t really understand). Same sentiment, more Zen koan, from Gordon Jurek, father of ultrarunner Scott Jurek, via Scott’s book Eat & Run: “Whenever I complained that I didn’t want to pick rocks or stack wood, I just wanted to go play, my dad would growl, ‘Sometimes you just do things!’ After a while, I just stopped complaining.”
I don’t know that this story is actually about planks, but I think the ending is either this: I hate planks →I do a bunch of planks→I still hate planks but I still do planks OR: Motivational poster of a person doing a plank, thinking “fuuuuuuuuuuuuu” with the title SOMETIMES You just do things.
Lead Illustration: Brendan Leonard

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