For a long time this has been one of my favorite exercises. It’s one of those that you see someone doing in the gym and you think to yourself, “Yeah that looks pretty easy!” Of course in reality its a lot harder than it looks, but what does it do? Put simply it’s a core exercise designed to improve strength and tone in the stomach and lower back. It’s particularly favored by both serious athletes and newbies alike. Even post-natal moms are often advised to do the plank as static stomach exercises place less aggressive stress on your stomach muscles following child-birth.
Performing the Plank
First bend your elbows at 90 degress, forearms on the floor, elbows beneath your shoulders. Your body should be straight like a plank of wood from your head to your feet. This is important. Many newbies will lift their bum up in the air so they look more like a hump-back bridge! This is not a plank. For those who are struggling with the plank then a modified plank with your knees on the floor will make it a lot easier.
Whats a Good Time For The Plank?
I’ve always been able to hold the plank for a reasonable while. I remember in my early 30’s being able to hold for 3 minutes. Nowadays I can do about 2 minutes. The plank is an exercise that with practise you can greatly improve your own time. In fact the best way to develop your strength is to do the plank in steps, 30 seconds and then a pause for 10 (or however long you need) and so on.
The great think about the plank is that there are plenty of variations and tweaks you can make to vary things up a little, from one foot off the floor to even one arm off the floor (what I call hitch-hiker planks).
The World Record for the Abdominal Plank is 1 hour and 5 minutes…ouch! I wince just thinking about that!
If you’ve tried it, how long can you hold the plank for?