Planks are an excellent core exercise to add to your strength training plan. One of the top benefits of planks is that you don’t need a gym to do them; you can do them anywhere .
If you are doing the plank exercise correctly with proper form, it can be extremely challenging, though very effective1Gottschall, J. S., Mills, J., & Hastings, B. (2013). Integration Core Exercises Elicit Greater Muscle Activation Than Isolation Exercises. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 27(3), 590–596. https://doi.org/10.1519/jsc.0b013e31825c2cc7 for strengthening your core.
Even fit athletes who do a lot of plank workouts may not be able to hold a plank for very long.
So, what is a good plank time? What is the average plank time for women? What is the average plank time for men? Moreover, what is the plank world record?
Even though a good time plank will vary depending on certain factors, according to one study, the average plank time for females is 1.50 minutes and 1.77 minutes for males.
Keep reading as we will discuss factors that affect how long to plank in your strength training workouts, the average plank time for women and men, what constitutes a “good plank time,“ and the plank world record time for men and women.
What Is A Good Plank Time?
As with most exercises, the average plank time, or what constitutes a good plank time, varies based on age.
Holding a plank for a long amount of time is not as much a matter of core strength as it is core endurance, and both muscular strength and muscular endurance decline with advanced age and take time to develop in youth and adolescence.
Therefore, it is helpful to look at the average plank time by age to compare yourself to age-matched peers when trying to decide if you have a good plank time.
There aren’t a lot of plank time statistics or studies that show the average plank time by age.
One study with college students found the average plank time for females was 1.50 minutes and 1.77 minutes for males.2Brigham, C., & Chase, K. (2014). Fitness Norms for the Plank Exercise. Linfield University Student Symposium: A Celebration of Scholarship and Creative Achievement. https://digitalcommons.linfield.edu/symposium/2014/all/8/
What Is the Average Plank Time By Age And Sex?
According to WebNews21, the average plank time by age and sex is as follows:3Webnews21. (2022, May 9). Average Plank Time by Age & Sex (with Chart)» Webnews21. Webnews21. https://webnews21.com/average-plank-time-by-age-sex-with-chart/
|Plank Time (in seconds)
However, it is unclear how this data was sourced.
What Is the World Record Plank Time?
Now, for the best plank times in the world or the longest plank ever held, let’s look at the plank world records for women and men.
As with many Guinness World Records, there is a surprising number of plank world records based on interesting iterations of this isometric exercise.4Search Results. (2024). Guinness World Records. https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/search?term=plank&page=1&type=record&max=20&partial=_Results&
For example, there are plank world records for the number of people who have simultaneously held the abdominal plank in the same place at the same time, and world record plank times for doing the abdominal plank with a 100-pound pack on your back!
However, for the regular plank exercise performed on your forearms, the world record plank time for men is a whopping nine hours, 38 minutes, and 47 seconds (9:38:47).5Longest time in an abdominal plank position (male). (n.d.). Guinness World Records. https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/longest-time-in-an-abdominal-plank-position
This is a recent plank world record, set on May 20, 2023, by Czech Republic athlete Josef Šálek. Šálek is a therapist and personal development coach.
The abdominal plank world record for women was set on May 18, 2019, by Canadian athlete Dana Glowacka. While still an amazing time, the women’s world record is less than half as long as the time for men, clocking in at 4:19:55.6Longest time in an abdominal plank position (female). (2019, May 17). Guinness World Records. https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/longest-time-in-an-abdominal-plank-position-(female)
Reportedly, women’s plank world record holder, Glowacka, attempted and set the plank time world record for women after her son suggested she could set the record, and she wanted to prove to him that you can achieve big goals with hard work and determination.
How Long Should You Plank?
Deciding how long to plank in a workout depends on several factors.
Although we tend to think that more is better, and thus a longer plank is inherently better than a shorter plank time, when it comes to the plank exercise, this actually tends not to be the case.
Interestingly, the plank is one of those exercises where you can “cheat”—not necessarily intentionally, but if you try to hold a plank too long, or longer than you are able to based on your current core strength and endurance, your plank form will break down, and you won’t actually be doing the exercise properly.
Time and time again, personal trainers, coaches, and CrossFit coaches see athletes holding 3-minute planks, 5-minute planks, or even 10-minute planks in workouts when they struggle with many other basic core exercises or lack general strength and conditioning.
After beginners learn how to plank, they often attempt to get a good plank time quickly by trying to hold what they believe to be the correct plank position for as long as possible.
However, if try to plank for a long time, and you’re not actually strong enough in the core muscles and lack core muscular endurance for a long plank hold, your abdominal muscles, low back muscles, pelvic floor muscles, and other muscle groups used for the plank exercise will disengage after they fatigue.
Then, you will start relying on your skeletal structures (the bones in your arms and spine and the ligaments in the spine) to keep your body up in a plank.
Your plank form may break down, and you will either see the hips drop and your low back will demonstrate a “sway back position, “ or you may hike your glutes up into the air somewhat to help reduce the abdominal bracing demand on your core muscles.
To do a proper plank, you body must be in a push-up position, in a straight line from head to toe.
Even if you can seemingly hold the correct abdominal plank position, the deep core muscles (namely the transversus abdominis, pelvic floor muscles, and deep multifidus) will stop properly bracing the core.7Lynders, C. (2019). The Critical Role of Development of the Transversus Abdominis in the Prevention and Treatment of Low Back Pain. HSS Journal ®, 15(3), 214–220. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11420-019-09717-8
Then, your belly will drop down away from your spine, and/or you will put more stress and strain on your lower back by weight-bearing more through the bones as previously described rather than lifting through the core in the way that the plank should engage the abs and core as a whole.
Trying to do a long plank in this way is problematic in two ways:
It will increase your risk of injury.
I can increase your risk of injury because it places stress and strain on your lower back, either from improper form or from relying excessively on the ligaments of the spine and vulnerable spinal structures.
This is because your core muscles are unable to continue bracing your core and supporting the spine properly or because you drop your hips and let your butt sag, which strains all of the musculoskeletal structures in the lower back.
You aren’t benefiting from the exercise.
Trying to beat the average plank time for your age or a good plank time for your sex when you can’t actually do the plank exercise correctly for that period of time but you can “cheat“ your way through it is ultimately a waste of time and nothing more than “ego lifting.“
If you aren’t actually engaging your core muscles fully throughout the entire plank exercise time, it will not be effective, and you are just holding a static position and watching the time tick by.
This wasted workout time is time you could be using to actually strengthen your core or other muscles to improve your plank time down the line.
The general recommendation by fitness professionals is that there is no need ever to do a plank longer than two minutes, and if you are doing so, you are either doing it wrong or you should break up the plank into different sets.
A 30 second plank or 60 second plank at most is ideal.
In fact, Dr. McGill, a well-respected spine expert and creator of the McGill Big 3 Exercises, says that you should only do an abdominal plank for 10 seconds at a time, then take a five-second break, and then keep repeating this pattern for a set of planks rather than holding a continuous plank.
Here are some factors that affect a good plank exercise time or the average plank exercise time, as well as how long to plank in a workout:
#1: Fitness Level
How fit you are is the single biggest factor determining how long you can plank and how long you should plank in workouts.
If you have been working out consistently and have strong core muscles, good muscular endurance, and a relatively low body fat percentage or smaller belly, you can likely get a better plank time than a beginner, someone who has significant abdominal obesity, or someone who is just learning how to plank correctly.
Learning how to properly engage your deep core muscles when performing a forearm plank takes time.
Practicing drawing in your belly button8 Lee, S., & Lee, S. (2022). The Effect of Abdominal Drawing-in Maneuver with Pressure Biofeedback Unit in Various Postures on Abdominal Muscle Contraction. Physical Therapy Rehabilitation Science, 11(2), 136–144. https://doi.org/10.14474/ptrs.2022.11.2.136 and building the mind-body connection with your deep core muscles can be helpful, along with building core strength and muscular endurance.9Selkow, N. M., Eck, M. R., & Rivas, S. (2017). TRANSVERSUS ABDOMINIS ACTIVATION AND TIMING IMPROVES FOLLOWING CORE STABILITY TRAINING: A RANDOMIZED TRIAL. International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, 12(7), 1048–1056. https://doi.org/10.26603/ijspt20171048
Children and younger adolescents usually cannot and should not hold a plank as long as mature adults.
Seniors may not be able to do a long plank, depending on their health status and fitness routine.
Some seniors are able to plank even longer than middle-aged adults; it all depends on your fitness level and how consistent you have been with working out over the years.
Generally, males assigned at birth can plank longer than females assigned at birth due to a greater percentage of lean body mass and lower body fat percentage in males vs. females.
Therefore, we see a shorter average plank time for women vs. men and a longer world record plank time for men vs. women.
#4: Injury Risk
If you have a current shoulder, lower back, or foot injury, you will not be able to plank.
Even if you are recovering from one of these injuries or vulnerable to pain or injuries in these areas, you should be careful about doing long plank holds and consider alternatives, as the plank exercise puts a tremendous amount of stress on these areas of the body.
You may also need to eliminate planks or do a shorter plank if you are pregnant; consult your OB/GYN or physical therapist about planking during pregnancy for specific guidelines for how long to plank during pregnancy.
In addition to your basic high planks and forearm planks, consider adding plank variations to your core workouts.
Some other bodyweight planks include side planks, planks with leg lifts or arm lifts, up-down planks, star planks and plank jacks. For a full list of plank variations for your next plank challenge, check out this guide:
- 1Gottschall, J. S., Mills, J., & Hastings, B. (2013). Integration Core Exercises Elicit Greater Muscle Activation Than Isolation Exercises. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 27(3), 590–596. https://doi.org/10.1519/jsc.0b013e31825c2cc7
- 2Brigham, C., & Chase, K. (2014). Fitness Norms for the Plank Exercise. Linfield University Student Symposium: A Celebration of Scholarship and Creative Achievement. https://digitalcommons.linfield.edu/symposium/2014/all/8/
- 3Webnews21. (2022, May 9). Average Plank Time by Age & Sex (with Chart)» Webnews21. Webnews21. https://webnews21.com/average-plank-time-by-age-sex-with-chart/
- 4Search Results. (2024). Guinness World Records. https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/search?term=plank&page=1&type=record&max=20&partial=_Results&
- 5Longest time in an abdominal plank position (male). (n.d.). Guinness World Records. https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/longest-time-in-an-abdominal-plank-position
- 6Longest time in an abdominal plank position (female). (2019, May 17). Guinness World Records. https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/longest-time-in-an-abdominal-plank-position-(female)
- 7Lynders, C. (2019). The Critical Role of Development of the Transversus Abdominis in the Prevention and Treatment of Low Back Pain. HSS Journal ®, 15(3), 214–220. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11420-019-09717-8
- 8Lee, S., & Lee, S. (2022). The Effect of Abdominal Drawing-in Maneuver with Pressure Biofeedback Unit in Various Postures on Abdominal Muscle Contraction. Physical Therapy Rehabilitation Science, 11(2), 136–144. https://doi.org/10.14474/ptrs.2022.11.2.136
- 9Selkow, N. M., Eck, M. R., & Rivas, S. (2017). TRANSVERSUS ABDOMINIS ACTIVATION AND TIMING IMPROVES FOLLOWING CORE STABILITY TRAINING: A RANDOMIZED TRIAL. International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, 12(7), 1048–1056. https://doi.org/10.26603/ijspt20171048