Time To Walk The Plank

On March 29, I posted about Cravings and the new book I’m writing about addiction. I decided that I could get in touch with what my characters were feeling by cutting out all the foods I love but are bad for me. And what better time to ramp up the exercise than when you’re already losing weight on a diet of carrots, cucumbers and baby spinach?

A few weeks later, my friend Jillian Dodd saw the post and challenged me to appear on her MANday page. Every Monday, she features a hot celebrity showing off his abs. Like this guy:


Samoan Rugby Player
Sonny Billy Williams

I don’t qualify as a celebrity yet, so I really have to work my abs.

Jillian and I are targeting July for a photo session and a post if she wins our bet. Details on that coming here soon. In the meantime, I’m kicking my workouts into high gear and I thought I would share what I’m up to.

For any of you who exercise regularly you know the human body is an incredibly adaptive machine. I had been walking around my block (4.1 miles) every day as a way to exercise, rehab my knee, and ponder what to write each day. The scenery here is gorgeous and I enjoy the daily trip through the woods and farms.


In the last two weeks I started running and something incredible happened. The first day I ran about three quarters of a mile and stopped. My heart was pounding and I could taste the blood coursing through my veins.

A few days later I slowed my pace and ran a little over a mile. Then a few days later I ran a little further. Then this week something shocking happened. I ran the entire block and even sprinted the last tenth of a mile. I thought it was a fluke until I did it again yesterday. My calves hurt, but I’m excited.

The running and diet should help me get rid of those last ten pounds covering up my abs, but when I find them I’m thinking they are going to need some work.

Some friends on Facebook have been talking about planks. I wasn’t convinced until last weekend I was doing some research on my new book and my nephew mentioned planks. Finally I had to see what this was all about.

Here’s a basic plank:


Here’s how to do it:
1) Start on your knees, toes and elbows with your arms hanging straight down from your shoulders and your hands together under your face.
2) Press yourself up so your body is straight from your toes to your head. Form is critical.
3) Hold this position and tighten your abs.

It seems so easy. Friends on Facebook say they do this for two minutes. Once you try it you’ll know why it is so good for your abs. It’s not as easy!

I’m not going to tell you how long I can hold a plank. I’m going to use the excuse that I’m really long (6’ 2”). Next week I’ll share my progress on planks and maybe a few variations.

Have you tried planks?

Got a great ab exercise you want to share? I can use all the help I can get.


25 Comments on “Time To Walk The Plank”

  1. Pam Stack says:

    You ROCK CJ. Good luck. I’m running with you – in spirit…. LOL

  2. Terri says:

    I am proud of you and your dedication to this. Please take it easy with your knee. Have you spoken to a doctor regarding running and planking and possible effects to your knee?

  3. Suzie Irby says:

    You just reminded me that I’ve been neglecting my planks! There’s a FB page called (I think) A plank a day. Check it out.

  4. Ursula says:

    Yep, planks are awesome. I can currently do a 2-minute plank. I’m aiming for 5.

    If you are interested in some unique motivation (and lots of info available) for your fitness goals, you should check out fitocracy.com – you get points for exercises and can do quests and earn achievements. It’s a lot of fun.

  5. Sue Violette says:

    I just found these! I don’t think they were in your variation of abs work, but I just did it and it’s impressive!

  6. Running from Hell with El says:

    Good on you. Keep it up and don’t listen to the naysayers (nine marathons later, I am still ignoring the can’t and shouldn’t doers out there). My bum left knee sends its regards to your bum knee.

  7. JD Holiday says:

    Hi CJ,

    I say go for it. I’m sure you’ll look great. 😀

    JD Holiday

  8. Wendy Bluis says:

    Crunches, crunches, and more crunches! Also leg lifts are great for butt and abs (lay flat on your back and lift both legs off floor, hold position for counts of 10, 15 or whatever you are comfortable with).

  9. harryipants says:

    Firstly, Sonny Bill is amazing. If you want to see what a body like that is actually for, check this out. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bZ9_lJBF6ME
    But turn off the sound, it has some AWFUL music on it.
    It shows Sonny Bill playing rugby league. Real football. No padding, no helmets, no place to hide.
    Now, your abs.
    Hang from a pull-up bar, or anything else you can hang from.
    Raise your knees to your chest then back down.
    Raise your knees so your left knee touches your right elbow, or as close as you can.
    Raise your knees so your right knee touches your left elbow, or as close as you can.
    Repeat whole process until either your abs or your head explodes. and you just wanna go back to writing because even that suddenly seems easy.
    You can also do this using the triceps dips bars, or if you want to up the stakes, between two really solid benches, like say between the kitchen bench and island bench, and SO much better if the benches are different heights, because it unbalances you and becomes a real world sort of exercise, not just a straight mechanical thing.
    Also, pushups, believe it or not.
    But mix them up.
    Wide arms. Arms way out front is a killer on the abs too.Or, again, hands at different height surfaces while doing the pushups.
    Have fun…

    • cjwestkills says:


      The video is amazing. Thanks for the exercise ideas. That sounds brutal. there was also a great link earlier to a fitness blog that had 10 other great ab excercises. Thanks for adding yours.

  10. BookLover62 says:

    Reblogged this on BookLover62 and commented:
    Hummm maybe I should do this with the kids this summer… I’ll practice while their in school… can’t have my 10 & 13 year olds showing up their Mom.

  11. Jenny Hansen says:

    OK, I’m here to support you in your efforts (and get you shirtless for MANday at Jillian’s place). 😀

    Completely impressed with your running and I don’t know about you, but I start shaking and sweating about 15 seconds into my plank. Hate planking with the biggest passion, and I’m having to do them for my “core muscle” blah-blah.

    Good luck!

    • cjwestkills says:

      Thanks Jenny. They are hard but they do get easier! There is a great group called #plankADay on twitter and Facebook.

      If you want to sign up for the contest, you need to comment on my MANday page. It’s here on the blog on the MANday tab.

  12. Bri says:

    A combo of Supermans, planks, side planks and banana peels are great. Good luck.

  13. Thanks for the #plankaday mention! Find us on Twitter using the hashtag! Tweet your planks or the @plankpolice will get ya!

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