If you are active on twitter, I’m sure many of you have seen the hashtag #plankaday being used. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, basically you do a plank each day and time yourself. Everyone then tweets out their info using that hashtag. It’s a community of sorts and the plank police will come and bug you if they don’t see you using the hashtag for a few days in a row.
I had been curious as to whether doing a plank a day was healthy for your abs, so I reached out to a few of my personal trainer friends for more information. Here is what they had to say:
A basic plank itself doesn’t hurt you to do every single day. As long as there are no weights/variations involved, the risk for injury is low and there is little need to take a rest between days. Doing intervals is best, it’s easier and more beneficial to do say, three sets of one minute three times a week is good. Doing them in set works quickly and more efficiently for results. Holding a plank for as long as you can does help condition the abdominals and build endurance, but doing this is recommended to do as a measure of fitness level more so than a daily exercise. ~Kali, ACE certified
I think it’s definitely okay to do planks each day as they work more of the foundation of the core, just as holding correct posture would use these muscles. I agree that the abdominal muscles are like other muscle groups and shouldn’t be trained on a daily basis when doing things like weighted moves. Along that same thought, I personally don’t think it’s necessary (or even best) to do planks every day with the goal of maxing out how long an individual can hold a plank and pushing the challenge of the plank position each and every day as that could sacrifice proper form and lessen the benefits of the exercise. So, I think regularly incorporating planks, but not always at the highest intensity is fine for the body. For example, seeing how long you can hold a plank or doing a plank interval as part of a standard workout, then perhaps holding a plank for 60 seconds 1-2x on other days (just a general rec for a time amount that could be done comfortably for some). ~Tina, NASM Certified
Can you/should you plank every day? In my opinion, daily planks are fine. You’re only using your body weight and most people don’t feel any effects of daily planking (i.e. sore muscles). If, however, you’re planking with added load (more complicated, multi planar movement) or doing your plank in conjunction with a heavy abs workout, I’d recommend every other day.
One long plank vs. several short planks: both are fine; just don’t do one exclusively. Mix it up from workout to workout. Personally, I don’t see any great benefit of being able to plank for more than 2 minutes. Instead of increasing the length of their planks, I progress my clients by making them more challenging (3 point planks, plank rows, weighted planks, walking planks, side planks with rows or weight rotation). Like any other exercise, if that’s all you do, you’ll only get strong in that position or plane of motion. ~Tamara, BCRPA Certified (This is a Canadian certification).
For more information on planks check out the following posts: 22 plank variations by Tina, the 12 minute 12 plank movement by Shannon, and combining the plank with bridges for a strong core by Tamara.