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Planking: Why not add weight?!

8 hours is a standard work day, and it’s been brought to my attention that the new plank world record stands at 8 hours and 1 minute. This is an increase of 2.5 hours on the old record. And I guess that’s how it should be; try your utmost to make that record as difficult as possible to break once again – very few records are safe for long these days.

( – Mao Wei-dong the man with the 8 hour plank

It has to be said what a phenomenal display of endurance an 8 hour plank is. I know of some people that can manage up to 20 minutes, which is pathetic in comparison to the record, but still very impressive and somewhat rare among the ‘gym crowd’.

As I’m such a vocal proponent of calisthenic themed exercise, and particularly static holds for developing core strength, all this talk of planking got me thinking……..

Why doesn’t anyone add weight to their planks?

I’ll let you in on a secret: Calisthenics and resistance are interchangeable. Combining the two gives you the best of both great worlds. Weighted planks are a fine example of such a potent mix.


To do these, all you need is a training partner or someone in the gym to place the necessary weight on your back in the form of Olympic weight plates. I can see you doubting it now………….It’s going to hurt my back! I couldn’t weight my planks. How do we get the weight off when I tire? Surely nobody uses more than 10kg?! 

Allow me to free up your mind by presenting some facts. A) It doesn’t hurt your back at all provided they’re placed softly on and not dropped. If you’re training partner actually likes you, they won’t drop them. B) Weighted planks aren’t as hard as you think – and if you can hold a rock solid plank with textbook technique for more than a minute, you’ll be able to handle at least 20 kg for 30 seconds. C) Getting the weights off just requires a good training partner. D) I’ve used my entire bodyweight for planks (80 kg) and managed 30 seconds.

It also makes for healthy competition between you and your gym friends. You’ll be surprised how far you can go when you’ve seen someone else go further than you’ve just been – especially when it’s a friend who won’t stop telling you about it.

And best of all, it’s time efficient. No more 700 rep ab workouts. You can do these RPT style (reverse pyramid training)……..where you do a heavy set first for the shortest time, followed by a progressively lighter set with less weight and one final set that’s slightly longer with less weight still.

Using me as an example, I use 80 kg for 20-30 seconds. I would go something like…….

  • Set 1: 80 kg for 20 seconds
  • Set 2: 50-60 kg for 30-40 seconds
  • Set 3: 20-30 kg for 50-60 seconds

You would progress by adding no more than 5 kg each time you reach the high end of each bracket. This is a training style that works beautifully for all movements as you handle your heaviest loads when you have the least fatigue. Unlike traditional pyramids where you are wiped out by the time you reach the heavy set thanks to the shitload of reps done prior.

Give these a try and see what kind of numbers you can manage. Let me know just how poor 80 kg really is. 

JR @ Straight-Talking-Fitness View All

The 'brains' behind StraightTalkingFitness, a site all about discovery that leads to strength in all formats; fitness, mental, emotional and spiritual. Everything starts from within and projects outwards. Master the body, master anything and everything.

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