This is Your Quick Training Tip, a chance to learn how to work smarter in just a few moments so you can get right to your workout.
It’s hard to imagine a more seemingly mundane exercise than the plank. After all, the move is defined by its lack of movement, requiring you to hold your body rigid, straight, and still for the duration of each set. But it’s also hard to think of a more challenging and effective core builder, which is why you’ll find it in just about every fit test and core workout you’ll do.
The plank’s power comes from its stillness. By holding your body stiff—glutes and core engaged, focused on the squeeze—you maximize your core’s time under tension, a key strength-building stimulus. Indeed, a study by Canadian researchers shows that it’s even more effective than dynamic abs exercises such as the curl-up and Russian twist at strengthening your core at its primary job: Supporting and stabilizing your spine.
So how long should you hold the plank to optimize your results? Assuming you aren’t going for the world record—8 hours, 15 minutes, and 15 seconds—the advice typically ranges from 10 seconds to around two minutes. At the low end of the spectrum are scientists like Stuart McGill, PhD, one of the world’s foremost authorities on spine biomechanics and the lead author of the above study, which had participants perform up to five sets of the plank lasting just 10 seconds. At the upper end is, well, almost everyone else. But what everyone agrees on is that whether you do multiple short sets or a few long ones, the key is to challenge your core.
Your move: Follow the advice from both ends of the spectrum, occasionally swapping out your standard longer sets of the plank for twice the number of short ones. But if you absolutely need a top-line number for your training sessions, don’t exceed a plank hold for more than 60 seconds.
By peppering in short and long holds, you’ll inject some muscle-building, plateau-preventing variation into your core routine. Similarly, make sure you’re doing more than just one type of plank. These six plank variations are a good place to start.
Source: Read Full Article