Great workout programming usually consists of a fair amount of foundational strength and mobility practices mixed with a bit of challenging exercise. For clients who are training for a sport or an event, there might be some more effortful conditioning. But, like in many professions or endeavors, MORE is not always BETTER. Unless, of course, you’re training to break a world record.
The Plank World Record
Stuart McGill, PhD, a spinal health researcher, suggests that 3 sets of 10 seconds in a plank is more than enough to help create a healthy core. Tell that to George Hood, the 62-year-old ex-US Marine who, early in 2020, set the new world record for longest plank at 8 hours 15 minutes and 15 seconds. That’s only about 8 hours and 14 minutes longer than the average person!
Hood is an endurance athlete and claims that this feat of endurance strength was as much a mental challenge as anything else. Hood announced that he is done with plank records after holding the coveted title of Longest Plank two times. Hood once had the record at about 1 hour 20 minutes. The latest record was set at 8 hours 1 minute and 1 second by Mao Weigdong of China in 2016. Perhaps this is a new challenge for Mao, or maybe you can start your training today.
The Fastest Mile
In 1954, a young student and athlete from The UK named Roger Bannister ran the first sub 4-minute mile. Paced by other runners, in a specific effort to break the 4-minute barrier, Bannister crossed the finish line at 3:58:8. Where do you go from there? The World Record for a faster mile has made only incremental improvements over the last 60 years, but at that speed every second is impressive. While you were out enjoying your healthy jog around the neighborhood, Yomif Kejelcha of Ethiopia landed a new World Record at 3:47:01. That’s running consistently at 17.3 mph! Kejelcha is only 24 years old and still competing at the olympic level.
Pull-Up World Record
So you say you’re good at pull-ups? Well, can you do 74 in one minute like Hong Zhongtao? That’s just one of the few dozen different pull-up records reported by Guinness, the go-to organization for tracking world records. Eva Clarke of Australia holds the women’s record for most Pull Ups in 24 hours at 3,737. But perhaps we can reserve our REAL awe for the 36 consecutive Pinky Pull-Ups by Italian Tazio Gavioli. Perhaps I should start practicing…now.
We could go on all day about the heaviest squat, the most pushups in an hour, or the highest jump…but that would be too mundane. Enter Steve Schmidt, the world record holder for the most lifts of 100 Kg in one minute…using ONLY HIS TEETH! Schmidt is actually a two-time record holder, having originally lifted for 50 reps in 2010, then in 2013 lifting an astonishing 60 reps.
Although a 10-second plank is healthy and effective, and a jog around the neighborhood is good for your mental and physical health, sometimes it can be fun to challenge ourselves and safely push our limits–as many of us discovered during lockdown and many “See 10, Do 10” challenges popped up on Instagram. During “normal” times, signing up for a mud run, challenging your sister to a plank-off, or creating contests among your clients can be equally motivating and keep us and our clients excited about exercise and fitness.