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!
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
If you’re so inclined, there are a lot of ways to build up to that level and beyond it. The obvious way is to practice more plank exercises like the ones above (and there are many other common variations, too). You can incorporate set/rep schemes throughout your training sessions, or just practice periodically throughout the day (grease the groove technique). You can do pyramid sets, supersets, circuits, or straight sets. The choice is yours, and ultimately your goals will dictate which approach you should take. If you have specific goals, and would like a suggestion, let me know in the comment section below.
The plank routine exercises are:
- front elbow plank (FEP)
- FEP w/ right arm elevated
- FEP w/ left arm elevated
- FEP w/ right leg elevated
- FEP w/ left leg elevated
- right arm and left leg elevated
- left arm and right leg elevated
- right side plank
- left side plank
- right side plank with leg up
- left side plank with leg up
- top of pushup position (TOPP)
- TOPP w/ right arm up
- TOPP w/ left arm up
- TOPP w/ right leg up
- TOPP w/ left leg up
- TOPP w/ right arm and left leg up
- TOPP w/ left arm and right leg up
- right side plank, elbow locked
- left side plank, elbow locked
Here’s a guide for estimating the duration:
- 3 seconds per exercise = 1 minute total
- 6 seconds per exercise = 2 minutes total
- 9 seconds per exercise = 3 minutes total
- 12 seconds per exercise = 4 minutes total
- 15 seconds per exercise = 5 minutes total
If you can hold a front elbow plank for at least 30 seconds, and are skilled enough to hold each other position for a short time, then you’re ready to put it all together in a circuit fashion like the above routine. The fastest way to build up to a 5 minute or longer plank is to work very incrementally on the above exercises – adding only 1 second to each drill at a time, and practicing until it isn’t very difficult (Rating of Perceived Exertion under 6/10).
Do keep in mind that you don’t need to follow the above routine verbatim. You can create your circuit any way you like – picking any number of exercises and any duration. You can even add rest times in if you’d like. It’s all dependent on your goals and how much you want to challenge yourself.
Upon seeing the above video and trying out the routine, the Siffer-Ladies challenged me to a 5 minute static plank – top of pushup position. Here is my challenge entry… Yes, I know it’s a long, uneventful video, with the exception of some elevated breathing, and shaky limbs towards the end, but here it is anyways.
If you’re half as crazy as the Siffer-Ladies, you’ll muster up the courage to test yourself and post your results below.
CST, CST-KS, NSCA-CPT
P.S. I don’t offer online training, and the only way to get access to me as an online personal trainer is through the Burn The Fat: Inner Circle. I login to the forums almost daily to answer questions. Questions directed to me will be emailed to me by another forum moderator if I haven’t answered it within a day or two. So, if you’d like some regular feedback about your training, nutrition, or fitness lifestyle, then becoming a member at the Inner Circle is your best chance for getting direct access to me…
Not to mention being a part of the most supportive online community for fitness goals with an entire army of trainers, coaches, and other expert columnists at your fingertips. Plus, we have 2 fitness challenges every year (in which I am on the judging panel) with prizes that range from cool fitness gear to luxury trips to exotic locations like Jamaica or Hawaii – free registration to the contest comes with an IC membership. If you’d like to super-charge your social support system, then sign-up at the Inner Circle today. Just watch out for those Siffer-Ladies in the progress journals section!