Planking schedule questions


(Bruce Pick) #1

Should I be planking daily, or alternate every other day to allow muscle to build?

I’ve restarted planking to help with my core. I’ve been having trouble with my lower back. A couple years ago, I was able to get improvement after some frequent planking, but I didn’t keep doing it. Now I’m getting serious about it again. What principles should I follow here? I’ve been planking again for a couple days and it seems to be helping - but I’d like to optimize the schedule.

I’m good for 45 second planks, sometimes a full minute. I know fitness fiends can go a lot longer but this is what I can do now - and it does seem to be helping.

I’m a 68 YO male, never was athletic or particularly strong. I’m about 5’8" and 144 lb., so not overweight. Been happily eating Keto since June 2018.


These are more effective…

Bodyweight squats all the way down and up. Keep feet straight. Hold onto a chair or countertop if needed.

Long walks with long strides will build core and leg muscles. Keep feet straight or as straight as possible.

(Allan Misner) #3


I agree with @Consistency that a squat is a good core movement, but so is the plank (when done with other core exercises).

Here are a few principles about the core that you should consider:

  1. You should consider your core like a can of soda. When the can is full, it can support a lot of weight, even if that weight isn’t distributed well. When the can is empty, it can support a good bit of weight, but you might have some issues if weight isn’t distributed well. If there’s a kink in the can, it will fold under practically any weight.
  2. Your core muscles are not intended to get big (hypertrophy) or all that strong. They are meant to have high muscular endurance to support movement throughout the day. As a result, they recover quickly.

You can work core every day, but you don’t have to to maintain a good core structure. Holding a movement for 45 - 60 seconds is enough. Instead of going longer, I’d focus on adding some dynamics to the movement like lifting one leg or one arm.

Also, planks only work the front abdominal and core muscles. I’d consider ways to work the sides and back in a similar fashion (build endurance across all of the can).


Because it’s bodyweight, do what feels right. If you can do them daily without issue go for it, you’ll only build up faster. When it comes to body weight stuff you can’t really apply the same tear/rebuild mindset you use with resistance training, just not the same. If you start over training muscles, you’ll know it. If you have a surface you can do reverse hypertensions on I’d HIGHLY suggest making those a daily thing, night and day difference when it comes to lower back pain. When the gyms were still closed I used to do them off of my dining room table or my dogs crate, I’d just put a blanket or something down so it wouldn’t hurt and I held onto the sides. Reverse hypers are literally what allowed me to stop going to my chiropractor so much. I’ have/had an L5/S1 herniation that like to turn to sciatica when I piss it off and I haven’t hear a peep from it in a while now, I’ve also been able to add back in deadlifts and squats which I had to stop doing for over a year because of it. My chiro was always able to get me better once I aggravated it, but the reverse hypers seem to be keeping it happy. I do like 2-3 sets of 10 every workout, all it takes.

In what way? He’s planking because he’s having low back issues, planking works a ton of muscles but also works the TVA which is huge when it comes to back pain. Squats and long stride walks will do near nothing for that, they’re quad and ham dominant exercises.

  1. He’s 68.

  2. Planking doesn’t stretch the muscles. Completely unnatural exercise. Hence why people quit doing them.

  3. Low back issues are due to tight muscles. Tight quads from sitting pull the hip down when standing and the lower back muscles fight with the tight glutes/hamstrings.

  4. Long stride walking stretches, works and balances all the muscles. Quads are interconnected to the core muscles and glutes/hams are interconnected to the lower back muscles. So when we take long strides… The muscles pull on each other, work each other and grow strong together.

Walking and sprinting is natural. This is what we evolved doing in search for food.


We’ll have to disagree on most of that


I fail to see your argument that they don’t work. People quit them because their hard and immediately show muscle weaknesses.

That’s an assumption, many people have many different things wrong that cause low back pain.

True, but completely irrelevant and not an argument against doing things that directly target the source of pain rather than trying to play ring around the posterior chain and waiting for the trickle (up) effect to start hopefully effecting the low back. Everybody should work everything and multiple ways but in the case of active low back pain that should be priority #1, with priority #2 being overall conditioning to keep pain free.

(Bob M) #7

I use planks, l-sits and a variety of movements like that.

You know, no one really knows how to build muscle. When I first started out, we were all doing sit ups on decline machines. I used to do these with 45 pound plates on my chest. Then those became passe and everyone went to higher rep, more frequent ab exercises. Then planks came along.

I’ve done plenty of planks and think they’re OK. I do many other exercises, too, though.

As for low back issues, I’ve always been a good stretcher, still got low back issues. Working on lower back strength, including planks and “side ups”, has helped a ton. What I call side ups are similar to side planks:


But I move my body up and down.

Similar to this, but I don’t do the curl up (seems a bit too easy to me):


Planks block blood flow in the forearms. It’s an irrational domesticated exercise.

Sure but the main driver is human domestication. Vitamin D deficiency due to lack of sunshine. Vitamin A deficiency due to grain fed meat.

The car that sits will rust.

I don’t understand what you just said because it sounds like an excuse a doctor would give to a patient to take his drugs instead of taking the natural undomesticated simplistic logical approach.

Maybe you’d like to repeat yourself so I can fully understand you?

(Bruce Pick) #9

Thank you all. There’s lots of material here that’s new to me, which I really appreciate.

I’ll at least shoot for daily planks; if I miss a day I won’t scold myself. But apparently daily is not bad for a person. I doubt I’ll ever get overbuilt in my lower back, or muscle bound. Never had that problem!

Here, I will stay out of the debate of whether this or that exercise is helpful or not. I recognize some good points were raised on those questions, I’ll just have to see what I can tolerate and what works for me.

I’ll look up reverse hypertensions to learn about those. The term is new to me - but I may have done them at the gym on a machine I think was called “back extension”. Is this it? It seemed to help my back.
I braced my feet on something and there’s was a pad behind my back that I would press backward against. It moved back under my exertion until it hit a limit. Rinse and repeat.
We had to drop our gym membership, so I don’t expect to be back there any time soon.

Stretching is a weak point for me. I always had trouble touching my toes but at 68 YO, the best I can do is about 5-6” from my toes, after a morning of random physical exertion. First thing in the morning, my fingertips will reach more like 8” from my toes. Morning stretches help but my point here is, stretching is a weak point for me. I’m working on it…


Yes, there are two different machines that do it. The basic one is the roman chair which is when you lock your feet and bend over basically and use your back to straighten up, you’ll see a lot of people holding plates in their chest when they do it. The other is a combo hyper/reverse hyper. If you get in it one way it’s pretty much like the roman chair, but you can also do it backwards and you’d hold the handles and lower your legs and then you’re doing it from the other end, way more activation that way.

This is the basic kind which you can add weight as well

This is the one I typically use at my gym, also the Athlean-X channel is awesome for learning bascailly anything but especially workout out with pain/injuries. He’s a personal trainer, strength coach for athletes and a cert’d physical therapist.

(Bruce Pick) #11

lfod14, thanks for this. I plan to do the exercise as shown in your second video - from Athlean-X. Our well loved coffee table is very sturdy and already pretty scuffed up so I can do it there.

The machine I used at the gym was basically like this one, but enter built:
Here’s another example:

Thanks again for the good info in your notes.


(Laurie) #12

Thanks for the Athlean-X video. Jeff really knows his stuff, and his videos are great.

I was going to incorporate the reverse hyperextension into my workout today, but I forgot. I won’t forget now!