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.
The plank exercise seems like a brain-dead simple pose that anyone can practice without much instruction. This is true, but to refine the plank exercise, one must implement some specific components to ensure optimal performance.
It’s one thing to balance horizontally on all four limbs and see how long you can last without collapsing. It’s quite another to use the plank exercise as a stabilization drill (as it was intended). It’s not about balance, so much as it is about crafting a solid, bodily structure in which you can distribute force production in relation to the ground.
Do you get it yet?
With the plank, there’s a lot more than meets the eye, and simply looking at an example of the plank may not offer the detail necessary to optimize technique. The real problem is that the plank is seldom taught properly at all. Personal trainers seem to expect their clients to just “get it” by modeling what they’ve demonstrated, instead of teaching the specifics. It’s true that almost anyone can imitate the plank position, but in my experience, most people miss a few vital components when performing it.
Done properly, the plank exercise can be extremely taxing, and for veteran plankers, may result in an initial drop in performance upon first starting the new technique. Rest assured, that with practice of the most efficient technique, performance increases will be regular and ongoing. On the flip side, if you’re practicing a less efficient technique, you guarantee a limit on your performance (this is true of any exercise). Good technique is both efficient and effective and results in the greatest overall benefits, and that’s what we’re trying to do in optimizing our performance in the plank exercise – to squeeze as much benefit out of it as possible. We do this by turning the plank into a full body exercise, instead of just a core-strengthening exercise.
By the end of this tutorial, you’ll have a thorough understanding of how to maximize your performance in the plank exercise.
So, there’s a little story behind this one. I spend a lot of time helping beginner and seasoned trainee’s with their questions about health, fitness, and training at the Burn The Fat: Inner Circle fat loss support community. I’ve been a contributor and forum moderator there since 2006, and in that time I’ve met some pretty cool people. I’ll be honest and up front when I say that one of my personal favorite members is a woman named Jan, who is the ring leader of the Siffer-Ladies!
The front elbow plank sans grimacing face.
Now, don’t let the cutesy name fool you – these ladies are not your average gym trainee’s. When I picture the Siffer-Ladies showing up at the gym, it’s like an old Western movie where everyone clears out of the bar when the outlaws arrive. The Siffer-Ladies are notorious fitness outlaws! While the so-called “civilized” women are barely breaking a sweat on the Elliptical machine while watching Oprah, the Siffer-Ladies are cranking out endless reps of alligator crawls, ab wheel rollouts, pushups, pullups and partner wheelbarrow walking. They’re hardcore – pure and simple. Some people in their gym even think they’re crazy (I can relate to that!).
Jan has been somewhat of a training disciple of mine and she’s built some pretty impressive fitness levels over the years using mostly bodyweight training. You see, Jan is a lifestyle fitness trainee. She’s found something that works for her, and she’s been sticking with it for years. She trains because she loves it… in a sick sort of way (again, I can relate!).
Every once in awhile, the Siffer-Ladies come up with some crazy idea like holding a plank for 5 minutes straight. I don’t know what possesses them… it’s like they just have an insatiable hunger for self-inflicted torment and indescribable agony – and I give in every time. Jan contacted me a couple weeks ago asking for advice about getting from 3 minutes to a 5 minute plank. After offering her some suggestions, I’ve been thinking about it ever since. I’ve never had any of my clients do a plank for longer than 3 minutes, and I’ve never done one longer than that either. It’s uncharted territory. So, you know me… I just had to know if I could do it myself!
I’ll be honest, I had my doubts if I’d be able to complete the 5 minute plank test since I haven’t done any specific plank training in years, but I set my mind to the task and here’s what it looked like…
The 5 Minute Plank For Core Strength, Stability, and Rock-Hard Abs