Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Plank Standards

So what's up with this planking phenomenon? I find it both dumb but totally awesome at the same time! If anything, it brings attention to one of the greatest exercises of all time: the plank.

A true plank, in the fitness world, is basically the top of a push-up. Or a low plank, which is actually just as challenging if not more so than the high plank, is the same except resting on the forearms instead of in the hands. A good, solid low plank requires strength in the entire body, especially the core (which includes abs, back, glutes, trunk, hip flexors). It requires muscular actions in the upper back, triceps, biceps, chest, & shoulders, as well as engagement of the thighs, calves, feet. It is everything. I love it.

As a personal trainer, I find a plank test to elicit valuable information about my client's strength overall, but I have yet to find any standard measurements to use to provide my clients feedback on their results. Instead, I simply administer a timed test & compare their results over time, looking for hopeful increases in time duration. I've performed this test on enough clients now that I've decided to compose my own standards chart. So here it is. Feel free to use it for your own strength assessment; trainers, feel free to use it with the disclaimer that this is NOT backed by years and years of study, nor is it promoted or utilized by ACSM, AFAA, ACE, or any organization that I know of. But alas, this may be the only chart out there, & I hope it proves fairly accurate!

Be sure you or or your client is performing a proper low plank, on toes & forearms, body firm and long (aka, the booty is not sticking up in the air nor are the hips dropping to the floor), neck should also be lengthened, gaze to the floor.

  • 0 seconds- very poor
  • less than 20 sec- poor
  • 20-40 sec- below average
  • 40-60 sec- average
  • 60-80 sec-above average
  • 80-100 sec- good
  • 100+ sec- excellent
While I've heard of people holding a plank for as long as 8 minutes or more, I think that doesn't represent the norm. I also wanted standards that are attainable and reasonable. Test yourself & let me know how you do!

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