Put your laptop to the side and get down on the floor in an abdominal plank position (like a push up, but with your weight supported by your forearms, elbows and toes). No cheating; make sure you keep your back in a straight line from shoulders to feet. Go ahead, we’ll wait.
How long were you able to hold it? 30 seconds? More than a minute? 15 seconds before collapsing? Are your muscles feeling a bit jello-like?
The next time you don’t think you can push yourself any further during a workout remember 71-year-old Betty Lou Sweeney of Wisconsin who last week set the Guinness world record for holding an abdominal plank for 36 minutes and 58 seconds. Sweeney began exercising in earnest in 2009 in order to lose weight and get off daily medications. Now 100 pounds lighter, she was able to break the previous world record by more than three minutes. The previous record holder? A 68-year-old Australian man.
So there’s no excuse; any age can work on the core in order to improve posture and strengthen multiple muscle groups. If you regularly take part in yoga or Pilates, your core strength should be such to allow you to hold an abdominal plank for longer than the average person, although those with a small frame and fewer pounds will find the position easier as they have less weight to support.
Tips to Remember …
- Pull your abs away from the floor and don’t let them go
- Keep your back nice and straight, don’t let your lower back sag to the floor
- Squeeze your butt! Squeezing your bum will help you hold form longer
- Keep your shoulders sliding down your back. As you get tired they might start to creep up towards your ears, try to keep them down the whole time!
- Don’t forget to breathe, many people hold their breath without realizing it during planks and this will definitely shorten your plank! Tell yourself to inhale and exhale to keep oxygen moving to all those muscles.