Time to wrap up the November Push-Up Challenge and start tackling a new goal – the December Plank Challenge!


All in all, the November Push-Up Challenge went pretty well.  I didn’t reach my goal of 50 push-ups per session (I maxed out at 35, which I did again this morning), but I’m still pretty proud of myself because I started off doing only 15!  Massive improvement.  I’m going to continue the regular push-ups, too. 


But for December, I wanted to address another strength training ‘weak spot’ of mine – the abdominals.  I’ve written a million times that I hate ab work with an undying passion, and that’s still true.  But I have gotten into doing planks (which are safe to do during pregnancy, according to my doctor) – they’re kind of fun.  I set my iPhone in front of my face and hit START on the timer. 

plank exercise


Currently, I max out right around 30 seconds.  Guess I’ve just never had a good reason to push myself!  My goal for the month is to do three planks, three times a week, and eventually work my way up to a 1:15 plank (here’s a description on how to do a plank correctly).  If you want to join me on the challenge, you can modify the planks and goals however you want!


After planking… breakfast!


An Udi’s bagel with a fried egg and goat cheese.


Plus, the prettiest pear I ever laid eyes on.


Side note:  The winner of the Lunette Cup Giveaway was Jamie, who nicknames her period the classic ‘Aunt Flo.’  Congrats!


Who’s joining me for the December Plank Challenge?  Best part:  you can watch TV while participating!  Heh.



  • Jodi December 2, 2011, 10:24 am

    Oooh oooh, I’ll join. I have a very weak midsection and need this motivation to strengthen it! Great idea as always, Caitlin!

  • Claire @ Live and Love to Eat December 2, 2011, 10:24 am

    That is a gorgeous pair – I need to stock up! I’m loving goat cheese with eggs right now too – and jam.

  • kathleen @ the daily crumb December 2, 2011, 10:24 am

    i will definitely join you in the december plan challenge. we held forearm plank for 60 seconds at yoga last night and it was a rude wakeup call as to how “soft” my core has gotten!

    i love pears 🙂

  • Rachel December 2, 2011, 10:27 am

    We do 90 seconds of various planks in Pure Barre. I’ve been doing the class since April and I still cannot hold it the entire time!

  • Jamie @ Don't Forget the Cinnamon December 2, 2011, 10:27 am

    I’m with you on this one. I HATE planks. They are probably my least favorite strength exercise…because I find them so darn challenging!
    I usually find that the exercises I dislike the most are the ones that I most need to do!

  • Jill December 2, 2011, 10:28 am

    I’m in for the challenge. I am not happy about it… but I am in! 🙂

  • Mindy December 2, 2011, 10:28 am

    Definitely in on the plank challenge! I’m usually maxed out around 45 seconds – 60 if I’m REALLY trying but that’s a killer.

  • Tiffany December 2, 2011, 10:32 am

    I started out doing two 30 second planks everyday a couple months ago and worked my way up to doing two 1:30 minutes. Proof that you can definitely improve! Good luck everyone!! 🙂

    Great job Caitlin!

  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat December 2, 2011, 10:34 am

    Your gingerbread house and the marshmallow snowmen are so cute! I made myself do a plank challenge a while ago – I managed to eventually get to 24 mins but stopped after that because I figured it was more than enough… and there’s only so much you can do to amuse yourself for that long. I’m sure you’ll hit 1:15 in no time!

    • HTPDad December 2, 2011, 10:38 am


  • Katie December 2, 2011, 10:39 am

    I didn’t get to 50 push ups either… I’m going to keep on trucking with that until it happens, and then maybe I’ll try the plank challenge! I’ve never had specific fitness goals I worked towards like this, and I really like it. It’s so cool to see how much I improve, and it really makes me motivated to keep working out 🙂

  • Andi December 2, 2011, 10:42 am

    It’s funny you say this–I too despise planks and any ab work outside of plain boring crunches (those don’t bother me, for whatever reason, but they’re not the most effective) but have been trying to force myself into it lately.

    I was literally just looking at Bodyrock.tv–have you heard of it? They’re super high-intensity workouts and I’ve been trying to incorporate them into my routine…they’re so hard but kind of fun and definitely addicting. Anyway, they have all kinds of variations on planks and different types of ab work that help you shake it up a bit–I think the worst part of planks is just holding it with no movement or anything to distract from the pain and mind-numbing boredom!

  • Amanda December 2, 2011, 10:44 am

    I’m in for the plank challenge!!

  • Katie December 2, 2011, 10:48 am

    Congrats on your huge pushup improvement ~ that’s awesome!

  • Army Amy* December 2, 2011, 10:49 am

    My favorite ab workout is ab ripper x from P90x. As Tony says in the video, “I hate it, but I love it!” Even though the video is short (20 minutes ish) sometimes that’s more than I can get motivated for. Planks sound like a quick easy ab workout!*

  • Ashley @ Cooking for John December 2, 2011, 10:52 am

    I’m in! I am awful with strength training and ab work, although I do enjoy it when I’m in the mood. I made myself a traning plan for my first ever marathon on April 22- and I am supposed to be doing strength and core twice a week. This week I’ve done it…zero times. :/ Gotta get goin!

  • LeeAnn December 2, 2011, 10:53 am

    Totally great to do on commercial breaks! Once you get super comfortable with a regular plank…there are so many variations! Side plank is a favorite to work on the obliques. SOOOO good for your core. As a chiropractor, this is what I recommend to patients to protect their low backs….forget the crunches and sit ups!

  • Ashley @ This Is The Place December 2, 2011, 10:53 am

    Could you perhaps do a post on how to fry an egg correctly? I just tried to it this morning and they broke all over. They still tasted delicious, but I wish they looked pretty! 🙂

  • Amber @ Busy, Bold, Blessed December 2, 2011, 11:00 am

    I got to 35 too! I think doing push-ups a few times a week is never a bad idea, so I’m going to keep doing them too. I don’t super hate planks, but they aren’t my favorite.

  • Amanda December 2, 2011, 11:10 am

    I want in on the plank challenge! I actually enjoy planks even though they are difficult and I generally dislike excercise in general. I’m not sure why I like them, maybe because I can be lazy while doing them?

  • Christine @ BookishlyB December 2, 2011, 11:19 am

    I literally just did a plank on my classroom floor (my students haven’t come in yet) and I collapsed at 46 seconds. I think I’m up for a challenge 🙂

    Push ups… eh. One? Hahaha.

  • Annette @ EnjoyYourHealthyLife December 2, 2011, 11:26 am

    I love doing planks! Best part–it targets those hard-get-at section, the transversus abdominus (the inner part of the abs that gives an overall smaller appearance to the waist). Planks WORK.

    I am obsessed with goat cheese now….thanks 🙂

  • Margaret December 2, 2011, 11:28 am

    When I was coaching my lacrosse team last year, we had a plank/strength competition. We had a girl get to 5 minutes. The poor thing was so sore the next few days! But she did great after all the other girls whined and quit.

  • clare December 2, 2011, 11:30 am

    Hi HTP-
    Congratulations on your pregnancy. I have been reading your blog for a while and am so excited for you! I am a certified yoga, pilates, and zumba instructor, and have been a mama for 15 years,
    and I wanted to pass along a little unasked for advice. I have noticed you pushing yourself into races and physical challenges lately (the 5k, pushups, plank..). As a yoga and pilates teacher, I would encourage you to avoid strain or working to the point of tiredness. A plank is a powerful spine extensor, and puts pressure on your entire diaphragm, also, as your belly weight increases, it puts an undue strain on your back and abdominal ligaments. Wall planks and puhups can provide you with strengthening without strain. This is a very special time, and your whole body(s) echo that fact. Exercise, in my opinion, should be different, holistic. Walking is wonderful, as is swimming, yoga, and most Pilates. There are wonderful DVDs out there for expectant mothers, as well as I am sure, classes you could go to. I just hope for you that this can be a peaceful time in which you do not “push” yourself from one goal or the other, but surrender to the miracle, and feel healthy and whole in that challenge. I certainly do not mean to offend. I was very young when I had my first baby, and had struggled with overexercise and ED, but totally left those behind when I became pregnant, and it was a wonderful thing. I wish the best for you, and congratulations!

  • Sarena (The Non Dairy Queen) December 2, 2011, 11:31 am

    Oh, I’ll take you up on the plank challenge! I LOVE planks! They make me feel so strong. Great job on the push ups…they are a beast!

  • Chelsea December 2, 2011, 11:44 am

    Way to go on your push up challenge and improve so much! I’ve lost a lot of my upper body strength I feel like from running so much *sigh*

  • Jenn December 2, 2011, 11:48 am

    UGH I didn’t even make it to 20 seconds! I’m definitely in!

  • HRCK @ http://hrcktheherald.wordpress.com December 2, 2011, 11:58 am

    We have a fitness initiative around our office where we all break at 3 p.m. every day to do group exercises. The planks come up on Tuesdays, and we’re up to a minute on them. My abbies are definitely tired by the end!

  • Liz December 2, 2011, 12:04 pm

    Congrats on 35 pushups! That’s a huge accomplishment. And I’m in for the plank challenge – my ultimate goal will be 2 minutes. Thanks for being so motivating!

  • Candice @ Sailing on Paper December 2, 2011, 12:10 pm

    I also can do the plank for only 30 seconds! This challenge seems like a good way to increase my endurance, so I’m totally going to join you. Good idead to do this challenge now before your belly is too big 🙂

  • Jessica @ The Process of Healing December 2, 2011, 12:12 pm

    Beautiful pictures!!!
    I HATE planks! I used to do ab work all of the time and I was SO strong buuuuut i’ve slacked lately and I can tell!

  • Connie December 2, 2011, 12:13 pm

    I’ll join you for the plank challenge! I’m already doing the 100 pushup challenge and the #30for60, so why not? I think it’ll fit in nicely!

    Congrats on working out so diligently during your pregnancy. I think you have a great mindset and inspire others!

  • Cassie @ Back to Her Roots December 2, 2011, 12:15 pm

    I just did a plank challenge! I started off at 35 seconds and am now up to a full two minutes. 🙂 I really want to get up to three minutes!

    We also definitely had a plank off at my family Thanksgiving. My brother, the ultramarathoner, won. No surprise there. 🙂

  • Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin December 2, 2011, 12:15 pm

    I’ll join! My abs could definitely use some work. 😛

  • Jenn December 2, 2011, 12:24 pm

    I was curious about this also, my doc said ab exercises were not good to practice during pregnancy…

    • Caitlin December 2, 2011, 12:33 pm

      @Jenn: You’re just supposed to avoid crunching.

  • Tammy Root December 2, 2011, 12:29 pm

    Hi Caitlin,
    I am gearing up to start working out again (nausea has subsided). I read in the “What to Expect When You’re Expecting Book” to not do crunches after the first trimester. Is it okay to do planks? Just curious what you have read/learned. Thanks!

    • Caitlin December 2, 2011, 12:33 pm

      @Tammy Root: Yay 🙂 Good for you! Yup, my doc and multiple other sources clearly planks. Ab exercises are okay, it’s just the crunching that they warn you about.

  • Lindsey December 2, 2011, 12:48 pm

    I am in! I just started my own push up challenge to, I am at 20 and would like to double that before the new year.

  • tracy December 2, 2011, 1:05 pm

    I am so joining in! I delivered twins in July and now have diastasis recti 🙁 It sucks soooooooo bad. Planks are supposed to help the condition. Fingers crossed!!

  • Emily December 2, 2011, 1:10 pm

    Planking is a great challenge. I am currently at 2 mins, fairly frequently. I think my modification will be adding a plate to my back for some additional resistance!

  • Erica December 2, 2011, 1:21 pm

    Planks are such a good pregnancy exercise! Strong abdominals will keep your lower back from getting sore later in pregnancy, help with labor and delivery, and recovery! I have been doing planks a few times a week since I got pregnant!

  • Ari @ Ari's Menu December 2, 2011, 1:27 pm

    I hate abs too! I used to be so good about doing them when I danced more, and now I have a hard time convincing myself. When I was in good ab shape I could hold for 90 seconds and now after a minute I’m toast. Good idea, I’m in!! I should have done the push up one too haha.

  • Julia H. @ The Petite Spiel December 2, 2011, 1:29 pm

    I think I’ll try this with you!

    Also, did you make that gingerbread/marshmallow snowman scene in the first photo? So cute!!

  • Jen@FoodFamilyFitness December 2, 2011, 1:31 pm

    This is something I really need to work on! I’ll join you in this challenge 🙂

  • Lauren December 2, 2011, 1:34 pm

    I like pushups, but hate ab work. I really want to work on my core over the next few months though, I always start to slump toward the end of my longer runs :/ time to get planking & blow up the exercise ball again!

  • Khushboo December 2, 2011, 1:48 pm

    As much as I hate ab work, I actually love the plank pose! Good luck w the challenge!

  • Amber K December 2, 2011, 1:48 pm

    I’m much better at doing planks if I combine them with something else. Like bringing my knee up to my elbow, kicking one leg up behind me, lifting an arm up, anything that makes the time go by faster. I lose my mind if I have to just hold it. TV does help though!

  • Maria December 2, 2011, 1:56 pm

    I love a good plank 🙂 We just did one today in Bar Method for a minute and its the first time that I didn’t have to rest! yay! Your breakfast just inspired my dinner. I’ve been trying to figure out what to eat that’s already in my refridgerator that needs to get eaten quickly! So thanks for that.

  • katie @ KatieDid December 2, 2011, 2:15 pm

    It would be fun to do a different mini challenge each month and try to continue up with past challenges too. That would definitely be enough time to target every body section!

  • Rebecca @ Naturally Healthy and Gorgeous December 2, 2011, 2:18 pm

    I hate doing ab exercises too but they are needed!

  • Kath December 2, 2011, 2:23 pm

    I don’t mean to be negative, but I hate planks!! They kill me in Body Pump.

    [I bet I also made your heart skip I beat thinking I was writing a critical comment!]

  • Ellie@fitforthesoul December 2, 2011, 2:26 pm

    I loooove planks!!! I just did a few of them yesterday, and it was probably one of the exercises that made me sweat the most 😛 I think it’s so good b/c it works everything at once without highly risking our bodies.

  • Ellie@fitforthesoul December 2, 2011, 2:26 pm

    Oh, I forgot. So of course, I’ll be joining in doing planks! 😀 Teehee

  • Moni'sMeals December 2, 2011, 2:28 pm

    I will be joing you sister! congrats on the push up success too. 🙂

  • Anna December 2, 2011, 2:30 pm

    Love the idea of a plank challenge! I’ll be joining in too! Definitely throw in some side planks for good measure 🙂

  • Athena @ Fitness & Feta December 2, 2011, 2:43 pm

    36 minutes and 58 seconds is the world planking record! Done by a 71 year old woman. Just something to motivate!

    My classes will confirm that planks are my FAVORITE move 😉

  • Angela @ MyPinkyToes December 2, 2011, 2:48 pm

    I definitely need to work on my abs a lot more, especially because it can help make me a better runner, duh! I like your challenge, and I’m going to make it my goal to do ab-work of any kinds three times a week, too!

  • Marci December 2, 2011, 2:57 pm

    Good for you for caring about your abs while prego. I am doing modified ab execises in a group fitness class, but it is harder as the weeks move on because of the weight on the front in a plank. I am on my knees from now on for planks. There is a strain on the lower back as the weeks move on.

  • Amanda (modernation) December 2, 2011, 4:13 pm

    I will join. I did this last month – working up to two minutes. Got to 90 seconds so I am continuing into December. I am going to be doing low back exercises and other abs too in order to build up to 2 minutes.

  • Polly December 2, 2011, 5:12 pm

    I have a love-hate relationship with planks too – and as mentally challenging as physical. My tip for increasing your time is to stop watching the clock. Definitely time yourself, but keep the timer out of sight – I find it makes the time go more quickly!

    I have found planks increasingly more difficult as my pregnancy has progressed (harder for my abdominal muscles to hold up this growing bump!) so don’t be hard on yourself if your time doesn’t improve as much as you hope! Happy planking!!

  • Allison December 2, 2011, 6:21 pm

    I had an egg sandwich [with ham] and pear for bfast, too! Warm sandwiches + apples/ pears seem to be my fave bfasts lately 🙂

  • Jen December 2, 2011, 7:16 pm

    I’ll join you in the plank challenge! Just to share my pregnancy/working out experience –

    I’m 23 weeks pregnant tomorrow and pretty much done with my usual ab work. I am working both with my ob and my physical therapist and they did let me do some crunch type activities until now. My ob actually said it wasn’t that big of a deal to do them until this point, it wouldn’t hurt anything. I did a number on my lower back and hips last pregnancy when I did NO ab and strengthing work so I’m trying to stay strong and healthy this time around.

    Right now I’m doing mainly standing abs and planks, but I can only do about 35-40 seconds. I am still running too (although I do take many more walk breaks now) I’m a GOTR coach also and excited to run the 5k tomorrow!

  • Nic Dempsey December 2, 2011, 7:32 pm

    Weird I just set myself a plank goal of 1.30 minutes for Dec. Great minds think alike and all that. Good luck!

  • Gina @ Running to the Kitchen December 2, 2011, 7:34 pm

    I love planks. There are a ton in the NROLFW plan, most recently they’ve been 90 seconds long which literally has me shaking/convulsing by the end!

  • Jolene (Homespun Heritage) December 2, 2011, 8:20 pm

    I’ll join you! Sounds like a great challenge!

  • Jacquelynn December 2, 2011, 8:49 pm

    I want in on the challenge! So do you do the same amount of time each week, then increase the time weekly?

  • Alaina December 3, 2011, 12:03 am

    I may have to join you on that plank challenge! I have such a weak core and I hate doing ab workouts too.

  • Living, Learning, Eating December 3, 2011, 8:27 am

    Sounds fun, I want in! Planks are hard. 😛

    Want to join my food-centered challenge, since you have a fitness-centered one to match? It’s NaNeFoMo (National New Food Month) and you make a bucket list of 5+ new foods to try, then try them all in the month of December! You can grab the button from my sidebar and find out more about NaNeFoMo here: http://living-learning-eating.blogspot.com/2011/11/my-foodie-bucket-list-for-nanefomo.html

    I’d love it if you’d join me!

  • Katie December 3, 2011, 10:48 am

    The plank challenge seems simple enough (and of course, effective) so I think I’ll join you! Now that I’m able to start doing exercise again after being really sick, my abdominals feel like they could use an extra push! 😉

  • Alett December 4, 2011, 8:48 am

    I’ll join the plank challenge….woot!

  • Amy Potter (@hellomisspotter) December 4, 2011, 3:14 pm

    Yay! I will join the plank challenge too! I’ve been doing plank-a-day on and off for the last few months. Need to kick it up!

    You should look at doing some dynamic plank moves, (like: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YjUuZHuL97M) I really found doing something a bit more exciting than just ‘holding’ the plank helped me to stay down for longer. It helps you focus on ‘doing’ the moves rather than the pain in your abs haha!!

  • Ilana December 4, 2011, 7:30 pm

    obviously i’m not a doctor but there is a LOT of literature out there that says core work in the first trimester, especially core work your body is unused to doing, is exceptionally dangerous to both of you. It’s not just about the spinal flexion (crunching motion) that can be dangerous, but the key action of support in a plank- the tightening of the transverse and the way the core fires to sustain and protect the back (similar to uddiyana bandha in yoga) can be considered a contraindicated motion for pregnant women to do.

    I understand you’re a beast of a triathlete and an incredible woman, but is working on your core really the most important thing you need to be doing right now?

    • CaitlinHTP December 5, 2011, 9:28 am

      @Ilana: My doctor and a midwife said it was okay so I’m going to do it. You can find a lot of literature to tell you to do pretty much anything during pregnancy.

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