How to hardstyle plank! Training for Warriors PDX

Coach Josh from TFW Portland, here. 

I’m here to talk to you today about my favorite kind of plank: the hardstyle plank. We do a bit of ab training here at TFW and the plank is one of my favorite vehicles for training the core. They are simple, easy to coach and easy to get right. It basically works every muscle in your body at the same time, if you do it right. When I coach the plank, every muscle is turned on in entire body--EXCEPT THE FACE! From the neck down, you are tight and strong. From the neck up, you’re relaxed and at peace. I’m going to give you a demonstration of the hardstyle plank. It’s very simple.


  1. You’re going to get on all fours- on your elbows and toes. When you plank on your elbows, you take the shoulder stability problems out of the plank. It’s going to be easier on your shoulder girdle. So we want to be on our elbows, especially if/when we’re going to load our plank with weight. 
  2. You want a nice straight line. I’m squeezing the glutes, flexing the quads, abs are on and everything is tight.
  3. I’m pulling my shoulders down away from my ears, so I’m engaging my lats.

There’s a lot of intrinsic tension and shaking can happen pretty quickly. I’m going to go for 10 seconds at a time, keeping everything on besides MY FACE. BOOM.

plank it up


You can increase the duration to 20, 30, 40 seconds, or 1 min. I wouldn’t go more than 2 minutes of hardstyle plank because you don’t want to place your diaphragm under that much continual strain and pressure for so long. The plank challenge has become really popular BUT an extended duration can cause breathing problems. Up to 1 minute is the most that I would coach. 

If you want, you can progress that with a little bit of weight. I’m going to grab a steel plate and self-load. I pull the steel plate behind me, grip it from the bottom, put it on my back, get in the all fours position and get right back into my plank. Now my core is loaded with some added girth. Grab that intrinsic tension. Keep the back straight, spine neutral, shoulders and lats on: everything is going! When the time is up, let the plate slide off to one side.

NEXT, you can progress that hardstyle plank even a bit further.

Let's say that you just ridiculously strong, you’re advanced and you've got abs of steel. You say, “Well, what if I want to add more weight, Josh?!” Great question. The answer is simple: add more weight! This is how you do it:

I'm going to take two 45 lb steel plates and a run-of-the-mill yoga strap. I set the plates up on their edges so they are facing each other and squeeze them between my calves. Roll the plates so that you can cinch them together. Once you have the strap fairly tight, the plates will not roll as easily. It's like having a schoolbook bundle. Next, I take my load and just like before, I roll the plates behind me, slide it up on my back, get on all fours and into the plank position. Squeeze. Lats on.

NOTE: I wouldn’t make the jump to 45 lbs immediately. Start with a smaller plate. If you’re stuck with steel plates, you can always bundle smaller weights together with your yoga strap. Bands work as well. Get crafty with it!

When you get to 30 seconds of hardstyle plank, you can start adding weight. 10 lbs, 20 lbs, 30 lbs… when you get to 45 lb plank, you can start getting creative. But stay safe! 

  • Don’t plank forever-- cut it down to at least under 1 minute or 2 min at the most
  • Add weight gradually
  • Remember: form before intensity

Be safe, high-quality training is not only safe but it's also the best for you. If you have any questions, post them here!