How Long Should You Hold The Plank

How Long Should You Hold The Plank

November 11, 2016 | Photo credits: Madbarz

Do you know what is the world record for Plank? And, more importantly, how long should you aim to hold the plank?

Is longer better?

Here's what you need to know:

  • What the plank is good for
  • What's more effective: one long plank or multiple shorter planks?
  • Are there benefits in holding a plank longer than 2 minutes?

What the Plank is good for

The purpose of the Plank exercise is to train the stiffness and endurance of your core. Research suggests that isometric exercises (in which a contraction is held for a set time, such as the Plank) are more effective in achieving this than dynamic core exercises (such as Sit Ups).[1]

But how long should you hold the Plank to get this benefits?

What's more effective: one long plank or multiple shorter planks?

When we walk, run, exercise or do any other everyday activities our core is not holding a constant contraction for a long time. It's firing in smaller bursts that support the dynamic of the movements. That's why shorter, maximal contractions (10-60 sec) are a better choice for training than the longer planks (180 sec or more).

If it takes more than 30 seconds for you to feel any burn, there are two options. Either you are doing it wrong or it's time to pick a more challenging exercise (such as Dragon Flag Raises).

But if you prefer longer planks you should ask yourself...

Are there benefits in holding a plank longer than 2 minutes?

The World Record in Plank is 8 hours.[2] But the biggest achievement about it is not in the core muscles, it's in the mental strength.

You can use long planks to break the training barriers in your mind, but don't let them break your form, too.

The Plank challenges (where you aim to hold the Plank for 3 or even 5 min) are getting very popular. But these challenges train your willpower and your mind more than your core.

When a Plank is performed with the right form it's challenging even for a short time.

If you find the Plank too easy, you need to aim for a maximal contraction. How to do it?

  • Lock your knees, tighten quads and glutes, push to the ground through your arms, keep the shoulders tight.
  • Imagine that your upper and lower body are pushing towards each other.
  • Don't let your hips "break" - go up or down - keep a straight line.

Takeaway:

You can get all benefits of the Plank even by doing it just for 10 - 30 seconds in more sets. But you have to maximally contract your muscles.

However, if you extend the holds to 60 sec or more, more often than not your core activation will decrease. If you like doing Planks as a mental challenge, go for it anyway! If not, pick a more challenging core exercise or start training for the Human Flag and the Dragon Flag - get your step-by-step tutorials with core progressions in the Platinum Pack. Workout plans for building muscle at home without equipment are available in the Madbarz Premium.