The world record plank is 8 hours, 15 minutes, and 15 seconds. But you don't need to plank for hours to reap the benefits. You don't even need to plank longer than a minute.
There's a way to increase the effectiveness while reducing the time it takes to do it. RKC or "hardstyle" planks are one of the most effective isometric core exercises you can do. Bar none.
The intention of the plank is to maximize tension in the core to develop the deep, underlying muscles surrounding the torso.
So how do we make it harder? Usually people will just hold it longer. Simple strategy, but not so effective when it comes to attaining the strength and muscular benefits you're probably after.
In addition to stabilization, your core muscles should be trained to contract and engage with maximal effort for short periods of time, as opposed to maintaining isometric positions for extended periods (standard planks).
How to Do the RKC (Hardstyle) Plank
- Get into a plank position with your shoulders stacked directly above your elbows. Your elbows can be slightly in front of your shoulders if you want to increase the difficulty.
- Without physically moving your elbows, attempt to drag them back toward your feet while pulling your feet up toward your elbows – without moving them, either.
- Squeeze and contract every muscle in your body as hard as you can for about 5 seconds.
- Relax your muscles and continue to hold the plank position for another 10 seconds.
- Repeat this process 3-5 times.
This is not an exercise you want to jump into prematurely with little to no consideration for your warm-up. You can do these after your main lifts as an accessory movement towards the end of your workout.
Or if you want to use it as the first exercise in your workout, try them after your dynamic warm-up.
- 5 seconds RKC hold (lots of tension)
- 10 seconds non-active hold (maintaining plank position)
- Cycle through these two holds 3 times (45 seconds total)
- Rest 15 seconds
- Do it all over again for 3-5 total sets (3-5 minutes total)