Since I just hit a new plank PR (13 Minutes!!) and my last PR generated so much attention on Instagram, I decided to share my tips that led to me being able to plank for so long. For me, I started my plank streak being able to hold a 2:30 plank, and had previously done a 4:30 plank, so I already had something of a foundation coming into this. My tips can be broken down into form, mental strength, and strategy.
Form is probably the most important aspect of planking. If you don't have good form, you are likely to hurt yourself or not get a good workout out of your plank. Place your forearms on the ground with your elbows aligned below the shoulders, and arms parallel to the body at about shoulder-width distance.
Here are my tips as they relate to form:
1. Clench your abs when it starts to get hard. The more you focus on your abs, the less strain on your arms, and the better ab workout you get.
2. Sink your heels back away from your body and toward the ground. This will keep you from leaning too far over your arms and hurting your form. Again, it takes the focus off of your arms and stops your legs from shaking.
3. If flat palms bother your wrists, clasp your hands together. I prefer to clasp my hands, especially once I get over 5 minutes.
4. Relax. A lot of people hold their breath or breathe very shallowly. If you control your breathing and relax, it takes the tension off of your neck and shoulders and makes it a little more comfortable.
5. Child's Pose should be your best friend. As soon as I finish planking, or if I am doing multiple planks, I immediately go into child's pose and hold it for about a minute or two. This helps stretch out your back and resets any strain that you put on it during the plank. The longer the plank, the longer I hold it.
Mental Strength -
Let's be real, we all know that as perfect as your form is, your mental game is what is going to help you be able to go long. After planking for 76 days straight I have learned quite a few tips to help mentally power through a plank.
1. Don't watch the clock. Seems simple right? I play on my phone on Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook. I will watch Netflix. I will people watch out the window. But I rarely look at the clock. Time goes by much quicker when you aren't watching it.
2. Plank outside if you can. I often plank on my balcony or inside with the windows open. The breeze feels amazing and there's something about being outside that makes it feel more enjoyable.
3. Countdowns. When I start to feel my head giving up, I do a countdown in my head. I pick an amount of time (usually 30-60 seconds) and count down. Chances are, your count down is much slower than the real time and you will be presently surprised when you check the clock at the end and you went closer to double the amount of time.
4. Know when you want to try of a new PR and use that as your motivation to power through the time. I pick a day of the week where I want to try and I mentally get ready each week knowing that will be the day.
While form and mental game are important, having a strategy to increasing your time is equally important. There are several steps I took that helped me to move up through the times and acheive several PRs.
1. Consistency. There is just no substitute for it in any aspect of fitness. I have been planking for 76 days straight now and I guarantee that was the major factor in increasing my times. Additionally, doing longer planks during the week before trying for a PR. Once I would get a PR, I would take a minute off and do a couple planks that long during the week. Once you build strength to consistently do those, you will be able to up the time.
2. Upping your plank time per week. When I started my streak I made sure to plank at least 25 minutes a week, then 30, 35, 40, 45, and now I plank around 50 minutes a week. That is how you build strength (physical and mental).
3. Multiple planks. In order to get a certain PR, I would do a couple days of planking that long in the form of multiple planks. So for 10 minutes, I'd do a 5 minute and then a 3 and then a 2. As I got stronger it would be a 2 five minute planks and then a 7 and a 3. Then I would know I was ready to try for 10 straight.
4. Try for the PR on a non-running/non-leg day. While it seems like all of the pain is concentrated in your arms and abs, your legs play a big role in holding you up. Doing your big plank on a day where you have fresh legs will work wonders.
So those are my tips for how I mastered the double digit plank! I'm working my way up to a 20 minute! I hope that I have inspired some of you to start plank streaks of your own and try for some serious PRs!
HAPPY PLANKING! YOU CAN DO IT!