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For a week, I did a seven-minute Chinese plank every day. Here are the results

For a week, I did a seven-minute Chinese plank every day. Here are the results

Another day at Tom's Guide, another fitness challenge, and this time we're doing the plank in a new way.

We really can't get enough of the board at the present time, having timed up to 14 of the best board varieties to attempt, with some finding more success than others. This time, I made the decision to perform the Chinese plank for seven minutes each day for a week.

If you don't know what the move is, it involves lying on your back in a supine position with your heels and upper back supported on a bench or something similar and the rest of your body unsupported. Here's what happened when I tried the Chinese plank every day for a week: Here's what happened (it's killer). I'll explain how to do it below.

What exactly are Chinese planks?

The Chinese plank defies convention by reversing the traditional plank so that you are facing upward. Take two study surfaces, such as boxes or exercise benches, and your own body weight. That's all.

The muscles in the front of your body, such as your abs, shoulders, arms, chest, and quadriceps, as well as your glutes, lower back, and hamstrings, are primarily strengthened in a conventional plank. It is a decent all-arounder. Now turn that around, and the focus shifts to the back of the body instead.

The Latissimus Dorsi (lats), Erector Spinae, glutes, hamstrings, and calf muscles are among the core and posterior chain muscles that are targeted and strengthened in this static variation. You'll have to guarantee your heels and shoulder bones are upheld all through; however, in the event that you do it accurately, there are a lot of advantages.

How to perform the Chinese plank

  • Start with your shoulder blades resting on one bench, then place both of your heels on the other bench so that you are flat on your back and facing upward.
  • Tuck your chin slightly toward your chest to maintain a neutral neck position.
  • Point your toes and squeeze your core, glutes, and quads, pushing your hips upward.
  • Keep your spine neutral so that you don't hyperextend through your lower back. Hold while you inhale.

For a week, I did a seven-minute Chinese plank every day. Here are the results:

  • Day 1, Although we at Tom's Guide are familiar with plank variations, I had never attempted this one before. On the first day, I decided to aim for seven sets of 30-second holds for 60 seconds. I wanted to make sure I didn't overdo it too early because it's easy to get caught up in these challenges. A brief aside: I do not recommend doing these every day. I know I should practice what I preach, but seriously, your body needs time to rest and recover in order to increase muscle mass and strength. We test these exercises rather than recommending that others do so in order to share our experiences.
  • Day 2 and day 3, like the 12-minute reverse plank, require you to lie down with your head facing upward. I wouldn't try the move until you have cleared it with a qualified medical professional if you have sciatica and lower back pain. My back muscles felt as though they were being torched after the first day. During Chinese planks, compound contraction is essential because you must squeeze as many muscle groups as possible and activate your hips, glutes, and core to maintain a neutral spine and lifted hips. Your bum should be lowered toward the ground, and lifting your hips too high will put more pressure on your spine. Naturally, I focused on counting down the timer and maintaining a straight line from head to toe for the majority of my time.
  • Day 4 and Day 5, Despite the deep, growing burn in my core and glute muscles, I was beginning to find my groove on day 4. At this point, I added seven sets of 60-second holds. I quickly become bored; what can I say? It was time to experiment on day five. In the prone Chinese plank, you rest your front shoulders on the bench, and your chin rests unsupported over it. Engage your core muscles by lifting your bum slightly and pressing the tops of your feet into the opposite bench. To avoid hip dipping, prone planks place the emphasis on the front of the body and require core engagement. From this position, it was much harder for me to breathe (why would anyone choose this option?). and carried on with the standard Chinese plan for the previous two days.
  • Day 6, I held one of the best adjustable dumbbells to my quads, still eager to experiment with the available options. I don't recommend trying this unless you've done planks before, and if you have, start light and use your body weight to build foundational strength first. To reach the 7-minute mark on day six, I had to focus on deep, controlled breathing because adding weight caused my muscles to go into overdrive.
  • Day 7, As the week came to a close, I quickly reflected on it. I've done the most difficult plank challenges in the supine position, and both the reverse plank challenge and this effort left me feeling satisfiedly exhausted. My muscles were tired, so I kept things simple for the last few minutes and finished stronger than I had in the previous few days. You could play around with your arm position—resting your elbows on the bench activates more of your arms, shoulders, traps, and rhomboids, for example—or lift one leg off the bench at a time if you want to try other variations of the Chinese plank. If you want to progress the move, you could also try moving the benches further apart. However, if you do this, make sure you can still press down through your shoulders and heels. If your hips drop, move them back together. Keep in mind to breathe, no matter what you decide. In addition, you will need to practice full-body contraction, which I explain in detail during this 10-minute RKC plank challenge.


One of the juicer plank challenges I tried included Chinese planks, but not everyone can do them. If you can't do this, start with bodyweight glute bridges and work your way up to weighted hip thrusts. The upward thrusting of the hips involves a similar movement pattern and the engagement of the glutes, and you will recruit and strengthen the same muscle groups.

I combined this one exercise for hip flexor pain relief with a dead hang (see picture below) to stretch my arms, shoulders, and triceps afterward. The following are additional suggestions that have been approved by TG for upper-body exercises and stretches.

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