We've told you how to do planks, and why to do planks, and what to do instead of planks when you get bored of planks. But there's a critical thing about planks we forgot to tell you: You don't have to hold the position until you collapse. Photo by Amy.
Holding planks forever is the subtext when people brag about how they can hold a plank for 30 seconds, or a full minute, or two minutes, or whatever time they are proud of. That's great! Go you! But then the rest of us think, "Ugh, I start shaking and feeling like I want to die after about 20 seconds. This sucks. I won't do planks."
What if I told you... you could quit after 20 seconds? Or even 10?
Holding a plank until you're gritting your teeth and can't hold it any more is the equivalent of lifting "to failure". As we've discussed before, lifting to failure has a few benefits, but definitely isn't necessary for every exercise every time. You can build strength and muscular endurance by lifting (or holding a plank) for a challenging amount of time, then stopping to rest and doing it all over again.
One way to accomplish that is with this program from Women's Running, where you start with 20-second planks, then work up to one-minute planks and from there proceed to the ambitious goal of two full minutes. If 20 seconds still sounds like a lot, that's OK! Do less! You're still building strength. And if you hate planks, watch out — when you don't do them to failure, you might even end up liking them.
Mastering the Plank in Three Steps [Women's Running]