LIFESTYLE
29/03/2018 16:13 SAST | Updated 29/03/2018 16:13 SAST

This Is How Long You Should Hold A Plank For

The answer might surprise you.

If you're holding a plank for 60-second intervals or longer, you're doing it wrong.

Plenty of experts say planking for an extended period of time is an ineffective way to strengthen your core. Not so, says Stuart McGill, a professor of kinesiology at the University of Waterloo, who claims planking for 10 seconds at a time is all you need to reap the benefits of the exercise.

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"There's no utility to this kind of activity other than claiming a record," McGill told The Telegraph. "Basically holding repeated holds of 10 seconds is best for the average person. But for people looking for better back health, they should be doing the "Big 3" [curl ups, side planks and bird-dog exercises] every day."

McGill said he based his conclusions on his past studies, one of which determined that doing multiple 10-second holds of core exercises saw the biggest outcomes.

While the professor didn't elaborate to the Telegraph why planking for shorter intervals is more effective, the reason could be tied to the fact perfect form is needed in order to reap the rewards of the exercise.

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Although the plank is pretty straightforward — you simply hold yourself up in the push-up position, resting either on your hands or forearms — it becomes increasingly difficult to hold the position correctly the longer you're in it. Proper form for planking includes keeping the spine neutral (meaning your back and butt shouldn't sag), hips lifted, and head up so you don't strain your neck, Self.com reports.

But that's not all. Once you're in this position, your muscles should be working, says Max Lowery, a U.K. personal trainer and creator of the 2 Meal Day.

"Contract your abs as hard as you can, by that I mean tense as if someone's going to punch you in the stomach," Lowery told The Independent. "Then drive your abs down, push your elbows back, tilt your hips, and squeeze your glutes."

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Planks are beneficial for a number of reasons, from helping to strengthen your core to reducing back pain. However, not all experts agree with McGill's 10-second rule.

Benji Tiger, a personal trainer at Orangetheory Fitness in Florida, told The Independent that holding a plank anywhere between 30 seconds to a minute is the sweet spot, adding that planking in intervals of "20 seconds each time" is better than 10.

Nevertheless, the fact remains that shorter time intervals is actually better when it comes to holding a plank.

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