How long you should hold that plank for

How long you should hold that plank for

The simple but effective plank pose is well known as a great way to strengthen your core. One of the many good things about planks is that there is no fitness pre-requisite. That means that if done correctly, there is little risk of back strain due to weak stomach muscles.

The plank also requires no equipment, just enough space and a pair of trainers. It seems very basic - but delve a little deeper for some surprises!


Received wisdom has always been that you should hold the plank pose for as long as possible. There’s often an element of competition in the class or the gym as to who can stay straight for longest.

Spine specialists now think that this may not be a good idea, and say that three ten-second plank poses are all that is needed.

Combine these with other back exercises and you are well on the way to a strong spine.


Whether it is basic or forearm plank, remember the two main rules: keep shoulders over elbows, and not to let hips sag down or hoist up.

A straight back is essential. There will be much less strain on your feet if you wear trainers.


It has long been known that we lose a little height during the day as our spinal discs compress under gravity. The professor notes that the discs expand overnight while we are horizontal. This makes them less flexible when we first stand up in the morning, and that can mean strain even for non-aerobic exercises.

So if you like your exercise early, get things moving before doing your planks , or anything else that works stomach and back.

There’s no need for a long walk when a short plank will do the trick!


The Author

Jessica Ambrose

Jessica is a fitness writer who loves long distance running, yoga, strength training and healthy eating.


Michael A.
21 June 2018

Michael A.

I would say aim for 1 minute and then work upwards to a max of 3 minutes - anything longer is just boring!

Mark M.
1 May 2018

Mark M.

not sure I agree with this, a 10 second plank doesn't do much for me. think you need to push it to feel the benefit

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