George Hood. That’s the name of the man who will be entered into the Guinness Book of World Records after holding the plank exercise longer than anyone else ever has – obliterating the world record by nearly 30 seconds…wait…I mean minutes – 30 minutes.
Maybe you’ve done a plank before, and maybe you thought you’ve done pretty well. Depending on who you talk to, a three minute plank hold is generally considered the gold standard – and anything beyond that is just gravy. Once you’ve hit 3 minutes and beyond, your core is already plenty strong – or so they say. However, I think a growing number of people have already proven that much of successful planking is all in your head. Mental toughness was certainly a deciding factor with the 5 minute plank challenge I posted last year. And I mean, come on, once you’ve done it for 5 minutes, you’re in the elite club, right?
Well, don’t tell that to George Hood, a former Marine and now 54-year old personal trainer from a small city in Illinois. This man is a multiple world record holder and added one more feat to his list of accomplishments after he held a plank for over an hour and twenty minutes – coming in with an official time of 1 hour, 20 minutes, and 5.01 seconds. Hood fought every minute to capture that record, too. It was not a walk in the park, but an act of sheer effort and uncompromising willpower.
Take a look at some of the clips taken during the event. He noted that it started to get difficult around 50 minutes, and the last 8 minutes were brutal. I’d rather walk the plank than try to endure this – har har har.
George Hood Breaks The Plank World Record
I’m starting to notice a trend appearing. I first started hearing about it when 68-year old, Paul Drinan, broke the plank world record by over 14 minutes with his time of 33 minutes and 40 seconds (article here). Ironically, I didn’t hear about the first recognized plank world record, which was 19 minutes, 58 seconds and was set in December 2010 (article here). Yep, that was only a year ago. Then, shortly after Drinan’s sweeping success, 71-year old, Betty Lou Sweeney, held the abdominal plank for 36 minutes and 58 seconds proving that men aren’t the only ones eying the prize (article here). Although, it wasn’t long before Australian, Richard Hazard, broke Sweeney’s record with a time of 50 minutes and 11.21 seconds (article here). And now with George Hood’s most recent performance, the record has yet again seen a dramatic spike.
So, to recap, in less than a year, the plank world record has increased by over an hour. Said another way, the plank world record has more than quadrupled since its original recording. If that’s not an indicator of the potential behind raw human performance, then I don’t know what is.
So, what does it take to achieve such an incredible feat of strength-endurance? Ask George Hood himself. One article from his local news agency reported: “His daily routine lasts anywhere from five to seven hours. He typically practices the plank for 90 minutes a day, followed by “floor work” that includes primarily repeated sets of 200 to 400 push-ups, plus 2,000 abdominal crunches/sit-ups and three- or four-hour hours on the “spin” bike.” (article here)
I know you have at least 7 hours available per day to train, as do I, but it’s a question of what to do with all that time. Surely, you don’t need to spend all that time cycling, and 1,000 crunches and sit-ups should be enough to work your abs, but don’t count on getting a six pack unless you commit to the full 2,000.
All kidding aside, there’s a time and a place for all-out effort, for setting records, and for maximal and near-maximal training, but I don’t think it’s a necessary long-term training strategy. It’s a fact that at a certain point, the more you train and the harder you train, the lower your return on investment and the higher your risk of problems (injury, illness, pain, plateau, etc.). That said, you can get a huge return on your investment from just a marginal effort. And this is good news because most people don’t concern themselves with setting world records. Most people just want to feel better, move better, and look better. (Disclaimer: my definition of “marginal effort” is probably different than yours)
In fact, most people can achieve their physical goals in less than an hour a day, and many in much less time. The problem is that we see exercise as this huge monster that’s going to take an immense amount of time, effort, and suffering to be worth anything at all. But that’s not true in the least. Even a few minutes of exercise per day is enough to make a big difference, as Dr. Mike Evans points out in this cool video: The Single Best Thing You Can Do For Your Health.
So the lesson is to be inspired by men like George Hood, but start small and build gradually. A daily physical practice doesn’t need to consume hours of your time. Anything will make a difference, and you’d be amazed what you can accomplish in a focused 30-45 minutes.
Anything is better than zero. -Gary Vaynerchuk
Sure, if you want to set a world record, it’s probably going to take a lot more than that. The problem is that most people don’t take any time for their health every day. And if you can get past that hurdle, anything is possible. Why not try out a plank right now, record your time, and then stop at nothing to beat your score in the next few weeks. Go for that 5 minute benchmark just to prove you can.
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CST Coach, CST-KS
Health-First Fitness Coach
P.P.S. For those who are interested, there’s a small group of men and women consistently working on their planks in a secret forum tucked away in the Burn The Fat Inner Circle. And actually, just this past Friday, I was informed that a couple of ladies in their 50′s, affectionately named, the Siffer-ladies, just nailed a 30 minute plank for the first time. And I hate to say it, but I think my loony side is really starting to show it’s true colors in their performances. For those interested, they’ve been using the plank exercise sequence I outlined in the 5 minute plank challenge at the link above.