The Hardest Plank of All Time

Make your Plank more challenging with this variation, developed by a former Soviet Spetsnaz strength coach.

If you have a strong core, you should be able to hold a Plank for at least two minutes. Many of you may be able to hold it  much longer. The world record is over four hours!

If you need to hold a Plank for several minutes just to feel a burn, it's best to perform advanced Plank variations. Who has the time or patience to hold a Plank for that long and do it consistently? Probably not many of you. But you can't ignore this critical exercise.

To make a standard Plank ridiculously hard, try the Russian Kettlebell Challenge Plank. Created by former Soviet Spetsnaz trainer and kettlebell guru Pavel Tsatouline, the RKC Plank transforms a traditional Plank into a completely different beast.

When most of you perform a Plank, you engage only the muscles you need to hold the position. You may not know it, but you're naturally taking the easy way out. The RKC Plank prevents this from happening.

When you perform the RKC Plank, you contract nearly every muscle in your body. The increased tension will torch your core in a matter of seconds, not minutes. Some of you may be able to hold it for only 10 seconds, despite that fact that you can hold a traditional Plank for a few minutes.

Russian Kettlebell Challenge Plank

Bret Contreras, a strength and conditioning expert, demonstrates the RKC Plank in the video below. He provides the following coaching points:

  • Assume a standard Plank position with your elbows under your shoulders, chin tucked and back straight.
  • Squeeze your fists and lock in your shoulders by trying to rotate your arms outward.
  • Squeeze your legs together and contract your quads and glutes.
  • Imagine pulling your elbows to your toes as if moving into a Pike position.

A lot of things work together here. Squeezing your glutes naturally pushes your hips down, but drawing in to the Pike position counters this, so you can maintain the Plank position. The increased tension makes your abs and other core muscles work harder, making it a more difficult—and more effective—exercise.

Rather than performing this exercise for an extended duration, start with 3-5 sets of about 10 seconds. As you get stronger, adjust the duration to 30 seconds or more. Check out additional challenging Plank variations in the video player above.

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