Doing Planks

This entry was posted in Comments about Cycling on by .

Bill has told me he has been doing planks on and off the past few months.  I’ve never done a plank, or had never done a plank before, but I do need to start doing some other stuff, core stuff, and I was a little interested about these plank things.

I heard that maybe they are good for the rotator cuff and mine is pitiful, so I thought I’d try it.  I’ve done it now, maybe 4 times.  I am very unfamiliar with what it is supposed to be doing or what gives out.  So, I did a little research trying to figure out what muscles it isolates.

Before looking, I really couldn’t figure out what would eventually fail.  After a couple minutes, my upper arms start shaking a little, but I can get that under control.  It seems like my lower back is the next weak point, but it doesn’t feel like it is just going to give, like when you’re doing pull-ups and you get to 13, then the 14th is impossible.

According to wiki, here are the muscle you are isolating.

Yesterday I did a plank for 5 minutes.  I had done it for 3 1/2 minutes the first couple times and stopped because I didn’t want to be really sore the next day.  I haven’t gotten sore at all yet.  I was going to stop at 4 minutes, it seemed like it was enough, but at 5 minutes, it didn’t seem any worse than at 4.  I’m not sure how long I could go, but it seems like a while longer.

According to the internet -The longest time in an abdominal plank position is 4 hours 26 minutes and was achieved by Mao Weidong (China) in Beijing, China on 26 September 2014.

I’m a little surprised that is so short.  It seems like if you could get to the point of doing the plank for an hour, then you could do it indefinitely.  I guess that isn’t the case.

The plank is just another spin on doing exercise.  I saw another article on the internet listing 5 exercises that are a waste of your time.  Of course, included on this list, sit-ups and push-ups.  I very much doubt that doing these are a “waste of your time”.

Any exercise, virtually every exercise in today’s society, isn’t a waste of time.  Hopefully it helps a rotator cuff, so I don’t have to pull out the Campbell soup cans or 2 lb weights.

These are the muscles it uses.

These are the muscles it uses.


I've done this before.  It is very unrewarding.

I’ve done this before. It is very unrewarding.

8 thoughts on “Doing Planks

  1. Robo

    I’ve become obsessed with core exercises. I started it for cycling purposes two winters ago, but have come to find that it is incredibly beneficial for life in general. Planks are great, but try doing some variations on them – raise one leg, then switch. Raise one leg, swing it out as wide as you can, then the other. Move from hands to forearms, and then back. Side planks. Reverse planks. And on and on. Google it – there’s no end it to it. Variations and movement are good because you’re never really holding a static position in cycling, or any activity for that matter. They objective of core work is to strengthen your torso’s ability to stabilize while your appendages are moving. But the other benefit is just to alleviate boredom. I don’t think I could mentally do a 5 minute plank, let alone physically. And as for push-ups, those are a variation of planks. You think you’re working your chest, shoulders, triceps (which you are), but you’re also giving yourself a great core workout. I use youtube videos to guide my core work because it helps me learn new variations, and because it’s hard to motivate/push myself to do intense core work. SeanVigueFitness is a great channel for it. He’s a little kooky, but his videos are great and his core workouts have helped me tremendously. Sorry for the long post; again, I’m obsessed with this stuff!

  2. mike crum

    i get a tremendous workout the days i spend doing farm work… legs, shoulders, forearms, grip, back, neck, core etc…planks are great.. have someone put a 45# plate on your back after you have done a minute or two without weights..

  3. Christine

    Oh so boring. You and Bill may want to expand your core horizons. Add things like planks with simultaneous alternating arm & leg raises, side planks, seated Russian twists (make sure to do the full twist), SPIDERMANS, & Supermans. Burpees and Kettlebell swings are two other favs, although not technically core exercises. Your shoulder may balk at these.

    5 minutes, 2-3X week is all that’s necessary. Switch things up. If you insist on your 5-minute planks be mindful of form – butt tends to come up and shoulders get sloppy. Mentally pull belly button to spine.


  4. Ron

    Planking is about like cutting the lawn with a pair of scissors. Slow, boring and it takes forever to make any progress. Pushups are essentially planks with the added benefit of “effectively” working other muscle groups. Try holding a “weight of your choice” while standing and twist from side to side. Move your arms further away to increase the load. This will work your core in a way that it useful on the bike as well as in every day tasks. Results come pretty quick in my experiences.

  5. le heckleur

    you should join a crossfit box and go to competitions!! you get the coolest t-shirts, way cooler than bike race t-shirts.

  6. Midden

    Why not hire a professional Physical Therapist who can review where you are at and prescribe a program that address your shoulder and hip? All this anecdotal s@*t about building fences for your shoulder and running for a block to try out the hip is maddening. Talk to someone who has been educated and practices therapy!!!

    Otherwise, I recommend jumping jax for everything.

  7. Matt

    Steve, I’d be happy to walk through some exercise bouts of benefit to cyclists with you. Planks are a good jumping off point, as are the rotator series, but basically you need to work in retention of peak contractile strength, maintenance of thoracic mobility and balance/coordination, etc. TRX is a great option as well. Love to catch up as well.
    Matt McNamara

  8. H Luce

    With his hip injury I wouldn’t recommend jumping jacks, at least not before his PT signed off on that particular idea…


Comments are closed.