Reader Sarah asked an interesting question in the comments the other day. Actually, she asked me three questions but it was the last one that made me realize she is truly my soul sister of fitness fanaticism. Sarah writes:
1)What are your favorite foods/things you eat everyday?
2)Do you count calories?
3)Do you suppose I could wear a backpack during plank positions to up the resistance?
Let’s get numbers one and two out of the way fairly quickly. One: I eat a ton of produce. A ton. Eggs, beans, nuts, Greek yogurt, fish, oatmeal and dark chocolate round out my top ten list. (Or top seven. Whatevs, I’m lazy.) But I’m a recovering orthorexic so I’m trying to get more flexible about what I’ll eat. Last night for dinner I had peanut butter cup ice cream. No lie. Two: No I don’t and here’s why.
Now on to question number three which made my whole day. I have done what you are suggesting. Sort of. One day one of the personal trainers left a weighted vest sitting out on the gym floor so in a fit of kleptomania, I tried it on. Much to the Gym Buddies amusement I decided to try out every exercise I could think of as quickly as possible to see what difference the weighted vest made. I ran on the treadmill (okay), did squats (good), jumping jacks (bad) and mountain climbers (very bad). I also did a plank. Let me tell you, Sarah, weighted torso + plank = back pain. (Mothers please note, the same principle applies if it is your own cutie-pie offspring jumping on your back.)
But don’t despair, my sweet reader! There are many many ways to make plank harder. You can put your feet on a power wheel (also known as an ab wheel or a unicycle for midgets) or Swiss ball and hold plank. Add in pike ups if you’re still not feeling it. Put your hands on a 6-lb medicine ball and hold plank. Hold a tricep hover plank (also known as chaturanga in yoga). Put a 25-lb weight plate under your feet and then walk forward on your hands dragging your feet – and the weight – behind you like the Sea Witch on The Little Mermaid. You can do walking Bosu plank where you walk your hands up and over a Bosu ball while holding plank. Do plank and lift one leg in the air, then the other leg, then your arms in an around-the-world fashion. Really good? Lift opposite arm and leg at the same time. Do side plank and lift your top leg in the air. Do plank on the decline bench (just make sure your hands aren’t sweaty or you’ll eat it face-first). Hold plank on your hands and then go down to your elbows and then back up to your hands, repeating for one minute. Not to get all Dr. Seuss on you but oh the places your plank can go! Just don’t put a weight on your back.
1. Grab more weight than I can safely control. Some people may do this one out of a misguided desire to impress onlookers. Me? I do it because I routinely overestimate my own strength. In my mind, I am She-Ra Princess of Power, arm bands and everything. The net result of this insane lack of body awareness has been me dropping weights on myself in every conceivable manner. I’ve bounced a 30-lb dumbbell off my shoulder, pinned myself to the weight bench with a too-heavy weight bar and no spotter, scraped 95 lbs of iron from my clavicle to my knees in an aborted attempt at a clean and press and for the grand finale dropped one-and-a-half times my body weight while trying to deadlift it… and then forgot to let go when the bar hit the floor thereby pulling myself over the top of the bar and ending up nose to the mat in what must have appeared to be the worst circus act of all time. The best part was when I stood up, I was so embarrassed and in so much pain that I tripped over the bar again bruising my shins and ego for weeks to come. Want some cheap entertainment? Load up a bar and ask me, “Hey Charlotte, think you can lift that?” You won’t be disappointed.
2. Attempt moves I have no business doing. Whether due to lack of training in that area or underestimating my current state of fatigue, I have caused myself many a mishap by trying to do things I ought not to do. Case in point: The back walkover was my first serious trick in gymnastics so when I finally got it, my coach told me if I would do one every day then I would never lose the skill. I took him at his word, doing one nearly every day since – even at nine months pregnant! Now that I’ve done thousands of them I’ve gotten careless. So after Turbokick one day, I attempted to do one – in the front of the room no less – and got dizzy from laying down too fast. I did a weird pirouette on my hands before crashing sideways in a heap and scaring the person next to me half to death. I have also attempted to do a cherry drop from the chin-up bar and landed on my hands and knees instead. I have walked into an elevator while doing handstands. I have flipped myself off of the back of a treadmill while doing hill sprints. And my favorite one – attempted to show a friend that I could still do all my splits and then got stuck in them, requiring her to hoist me by my armpits. Oh and about half of Hip Hop Hustle probably falls in this category!
3. Never backing down from a dare. Call it hubris, call it my fatal flaw, call it my eagerness to try new things but I have such a hard time backing away from a challenge. I went spelunking with no real equipment, save a repelling harness and rope, despite the fact that neither myself nor my partner knew anything about spelunking and also my greatest fear is getting trapped in a cave (underwater, if you want to be really specific.) I attempted to do a flip on a 100-foot free repel and instead caught my hair in my figure eight necessitating the hacking off of my waist-length braid with a pocket knife that my friends lowered to me in a hiking boot. I agreed to do a lift with a swing dance partner that I’d never tried before and ended up not only taking the both of us down in a painful ignominious heap but also managed to flash my bright red undies at everyone in the packed joint. And if you think those are bad, you don’t even want to hear the non-fitness related dares I’ve taken.
Now I dare you! Tell me the stupidest, craziest, most embarrassing thing you’ve ever done in the name of fitness! Did you get headlocked by a weight machine? Hamstrung by a jump rope? Use the thigh master for more nefarious purposes? Do, share! (and enjoy the videos!)