How Long Should You Hold a Plank?

How Long Should You Hold a Plank?

Planks have become a fitness sensation, with various challenges and creative variations popping up on social media platforms. You see a lot of people doing plank at Bally Total Fitness. But how long should you really hold a plank to reap its benefits?

First, let’s understand what a plank is.

A plank is an isometric exercise that involves contracting your muscles without actively moving them. There are two main variations: the high plank, performed on your palms, and the forearm plank, done on your elbows. Both variations require extending your legs behind you and maintaining a straight line from your head to your heels.

Planks primarily target your core muscles, which include a group of muscles that work together to stabilize and protect your spine.

A strong core is essential for maintaining proper posture and executing other strength-training exercises with good form, reducing the risk of injury.

So, how long should you hold a plank?

While there isn’t a definitive rule, experts generally recommend aiming for one minute with proper form. Holding a plank for 60 seconds challenges and improves your core’s muscular endurance, particularly the transverse abdominis, the deepest core muscle responsible for stability and preventing spinal hyperextension and overflexion. Deeper engagement of the core muscles occurs the longer you hold the plank.

Building core endurance is crucial for injury prevention and optimal performance in sports. For instance, in long-distance running, core fatigue can negatively affect running kinematics and increase the load on your lower extremities.

Research suggests that improving core endurance can enhance running economy and overall performance. Additionally, core endurance contributes to your ability to lift heavy weights and perform daily activities with greater stability and force.

However, if you’re new to planking, it’s essential not to force yourself to reach the one-minute goal right away. Many beginners find it challenging to maintain proper form for a full minute and may end up disengaging their core and arching their lower back, leading to discomfort and potential injury.

In such cases, focus on building control of your hips and core first. Start with 10-second holds and gradually increase the duration by 10 seconds as you develop strength and maintain flawless form.

Once you can hold a plank for a full minute, there’s no need to keep increasing the duration. Going beyond two minutes isn’t recommended by experts, as form tends to deteriorate, even if you’re proficient at planking.

To perform a plank with proper form, keep your back flat like a tabletop and maintain a straight line from head to heels. If you opt for a forearm plank, ensure that your shoulders are stacked above your elbows, your forearms extend straight forward, and your hands are flat on the floor or in gentle fists.

Bringing your hands together in the center increases the workload on your upper body, shifting the emphasis away from your core. Avoid letting your hips drop, as this indicates a loss of core engagement.

Remember, holding a plank for a minute is pointless if your form is compromised. It’s better to focus on quality rather than quantity. Don’t hesitate to reduce your plank time to refine your technique, as you’ll gain more benefits from doing it correctly.

Learn how to do a plank here:

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