This Is How Long You Should Be Holding The Plank
Post at 17:23 - 10/04/2018

According to a spine specialist, it’s not as long as you think

 

The plank works. In fact, a study at the Biomechanics Lab at Sand Diego State University recently found the plank works your core more effectively than traditional crunches and, better still, won’t wreck your back, either.

However, the debate surrounding how long you should be holding it has been raging on for years. That is, until now. And the answer might please some of you.

According to professor and spine specialists Stuart McGill, PhD, the answer is just 10 seconds.

“There’s no utility to this kind of activity other than claiming a record,” said McGill, who was speaking to The Telegraph. Instead, McGill believes you will see greater benefits from planking for three 10-second intervals rather than long holds. “Basically, holding repeated holds of 10 seconds is best for the average person. But for people looking to better back health they should be doing the Big 3 [curl ups, side-plank and bird dog] every day. My conclusions come from many studies that we have performed, not just a single one.”

 

 

McGill, who spent 30 years as a professor of spine biomechanics, also warned that you should avoid certain back exercises first thing in the morning.

“Your discs are hydrophilic, which means they love water, they suck up fluids, so when you go to bed at night you’re shorter than when you wake up in the morning. Your spinal discs are much more inflated, they don’t like to bend and actually it has three times the stress.”

McGill recommends not doing bending exercises in the morning, such as pulling your knees to your chest or sit-ups. He believes it would be much wiser to wait an hour, go for a walk and let gravity “squeeze out some of the water.”

 

man with muscles performing the plank

 

Not everyone agrees

As you can imagine, not everyone agrees. Speaking to The Independent, Benji Tiger, a personal trainer at Orange Theory in Florida said, “You should be holding a plank for 30 seconds to a minute.” And if you were to do planking intervals, “holding for 20 seconds each time would be better.”

Veteran strength coach and Men’s Health contributor Dan John suggests holding the plank for no more than 120 seconds. In his book, Can You Go? if you can’t hold a plank for 120 seconds, you’re either a) too fat; b) too weak; or c) doing something wrong in your workouts.

Simply put: a fit, healthy guy should be able to do a two-minute plank, and not for a second longer. “Enough is enough,” he says. “It’s just a plank. More is not better.”

man performing the plank

Form is paramount

Let’s pause the stopwatch for a moment. Despite the varying opinions on how long you should hold position, it’s agreed, thankfully, that the most important part of planking comes down to form.

In the press-up position, your feet should be together, arms slightly wider than shoulder width and your weight resting on your forearms. Most importantly, your body should form a straight line and be stiff from head to toe as you brace your abs. The moment your back begins to sag, is the moment you should stop, no matter how long the clock has been ticking.

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