Wavemaker: Wisdom from the Greatest Planker of All Time

The Plank Wave: Wisdom from the Greatest Planker of All Time

By Michael Schulder
April 14th, 2014
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With five days to go until a 16 year old “special needs” girl named Gabi Ury attempts to break the women’s world record for holding an abdominal plank, I want to know what drives a person to drive his or her body beyond a point any of us can imagine?

Forgive me if that first sentence suggests I am putting a limit on the expansiveness of your imagination.

But if you get down on the floor in plank position right now and hold the position as long as you can – (and I hope you have someone record your effort and share it here ) — I do believe you will find that George Hood’s world planking record of 3 hours, 7 minutes, 15 seconds is beyond your imagination.

And yet – George Hood – despite his amazing core strength – took a long time to build up to three hours.

I called him yesterday to talk about Gabi, who, after 14 major surgeries since birth, which have, among other impacts, left her without some of her abdominal muscles, is taking on this excruciating abdominal challenge.

Please treat yourself to 4-minutes-9-seconds of her captivating story in her own words right here before you leave this page.

Hood tells me the very first time he planked was in 2011.  He could only hold that first plank for five minutes.

How did George Hood get from 5 minutes to 3 hours, 7 minutes, 15 seconds in just two years?

Hood is transparent about the upsetting experience as a child that drives him to this day – which we’ll get to in a moment.

Back in 2010 The Guinness Book of World Records did not have a category for Planking.

When they added it, Hood, who has become somewhat of a planking historian, tells me the first record was taken by an Englishman at 19:58.

If Gabi breaks the women’s world record, as she plans to do on April 19th, she will go more than twice as long as that first record, set by a man.

Hood tells me the planking record switched hands a number of times until an Australian man hit 50 minutes. “Everyone thought he owned it, “ Hood tells me.

But the planking obsessed were not aware of a man named George Hood.  He was quietly training to break the 50 minute mark.

Was it Hood’s four years of active duty in the Marines that gave him the discipline to aim to beat the record “owned” by another man?

Was it his many years of experience as a special agent at NCIS and the Drug Enforcement Agency.

Was it his six months in Afghanistan as a private security contractor from September 2008 – May 2009 teaching marines how to catch bomb-makers in a wartime environment.

Or did George Hood have a leg up on the competition because of the fact that, in his early 50s, he was formally retired and had the time to obsessively work his core?

These days, for example, George Hood says he trains four hours a day.
He runs 5-7 miles every other day at a pace of roughly 8:15 a mile.
He does 2,000 crunches a day – 20 sets of 100.
“I lay down 2 hours of planks a day in two sessions,” he tells me.

He’s planking 10 hours a week and hopes to increase that to 15.

All those factors must contribute to George Hood becoming the best planker in the world.

But there was something else deeper driving George Hood.

“Part of the reason I do what I do,” says Hood,” is that  “when I was a child, whatever George Hood did was never good enough.”  Never good enough for his family.

“I was always compared to other kids,” Hood  tells me.  Compared unfavorably.  “Nothing I did was ever good enough.  I had to be the best.”

“As I got older,” Hood says, “I wanted to take ownership of something – to change lives – to inspire others.”

George Hood had something to prove.  And he is eager to share his insights.

I asked Hood if he has any tips for Gabi.

George Hood recommends that she – that all of us — “disassociate ourselves from the reality of the clock….. Forget about time?”

How can you forget about time when your success will be measured in time, I asked him?

“Why cap yourself,” he answers?

Hood remembers his last record, which broke his previous record.  The Guinness judge asked me “what do you think you’re good for today?”  Hood thought 2-and-a-half hours.   Maybe 2:35.

But Hood only calls out for a time check when he feels he needs one – when he thinks he might be hitting his limit.

When he called out for his first time check during that latest record, the answer came back:  One Hour Fifty Seven Minutes.

“I damn near fell over.  It was the longest I had ever gone without asking for the time.”

Hood remained in the Plank Position for another one hour/10 minutes/15 seconds.  At 3:07:15, George Hood owns the Plank record

In the video above, Gabi Ury tells us she does not want to break the women’s world planking record.  “I want to smash it.”

Sounds like Gabi Ury has a bit of the George Hood mindset, which is captured in those three words of his:  “Why Cap Yourself?”

Here’s to imagination.

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