planks for nothing

How Long Should You Really Be Planking?

woman holding a plank
Planking doesn’t have to be (so) painful. Photo: OcusFocus/Getty Images/iStockphoto

This goes out to everybody who’s ever held a plank for so long that their limbs gave out — according to University of Waterloo in Canada professor and sports scientist Stuart McGill, the optimal duration for a plank is only ten seconds, which is less time than it takes to read this paragraph out loud.

McGill, whose research focuses on preventing and rehabilitating back pain, pushed back against the popular practice of hold-it-til-you-drop-it planking in an interview with the Telegraph. He specifically dings workout programs that ask you to hold planks for upwards of minutes, admonishing that there’s “no utility to this kind of activity other than claiming a record.” Take that, workout room peacocks.

This isn’t, alas, a science-based excuse to ban planking from your workout totally. McGill’s recommendation is instead to hold ten second planks, three times, which scans with other research that suggests interval training is more effective than traditional workout slogs. (And, may help reverse the effects of aging.) But the real win: No more collapsing on your sweaty gym floor in the name of one-upping some stranger across the room.

How Long Should You Really Be Planking?