No matter your strength, holding a plank will eventually make your body shake. If planks are accessible to you and you’re looking to test your limits, a three-minute plank challenge is one of the best ways to assess your physical fitness, says Mike Donavanik, founder and CEO of digital fitness platform Sweat Factor.
“[Being able to do this] means that one, you have great core strength and two, great core muscular endurance,” says Donavanik. “With the plank, so many other muscles are engaged like from your chest to your lats, obviously your core, but even your quads, your glutes if you’re doing it all right. To be able to hold a regular plank for a three-minute duration without any breaks is great. Anytime you can have movements to a plank too, I mean you’re just killing it if you can do that.”
Before you get started, here’s the right way to do a plank:
How to complete the 3-minute plank test
You can do it on your hands or on your forearms, depending on which works better for you.
1. For the first minute, just hold.
2. For the second minute, lift one arm and hold it for 15 seconds, switch and hold the other arm, then one leg, and then the other leg, each for 15 seconds.
3. For the third minute, hold a plank.
Donavanik says it’s best to do the plank test on a weekly basis. “The plank test gives you substantial like data like, ‘This week, once I did the all the lifts my body was shaking like crazy,’ and then maybe it’s the next week like, ‘Okay, my body’s not shaking as much,’ then the week after that, you’re like, ‘Oh, I’m not shaking at all,” he says. “So it just gives you feedback a little faster, especially for something like this that isn’t so taxing on the body, compared to like, you know max lifts.”
The plank test can also help you figure out if your regimen isn’t helping you attain the goals you’d like to reach.”You just want to be able to see that what you’re doing is working,” he says. If it’s getting harder, you know that something is either way off in your routine or that you may be dealing with an injury. If you’re unable to progress, you know you need to ramp up or change up your routine a bit.
“Maybe all you’re doing every day is spin. I love SoulCycle, but I would never recommend somebody do it every single day as their only form of workout,” says Donavanik. “If that’s all you’re doing and you’re doing this test once a week, it’s understandable why you’re not going to see great gains in core strength or overall body strength just because you’re working your legs so predominantly. But if you have a more well-rounded program, you have strength training, you have your cardio, you have core work, you have all these different things, you’ll be able to assess what program is working for you and what isn’t.”
To further build your core strength, try this 10-minute workout:
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