This Barbie can really hold a plank. Well, at least the actress who plays her sure can.
According to the Barbie movie's trainer David Higgins, Margot Robbie can hold a plank for four minutes and ten seconds, topping co-star Ryan Gosling, who came in at 3:02. She was only bested by Higgins, who regularly hosted plank challenges on set as a fun way to keep the cast and crew engaged.
"I like to create a bit of competitiveness when I work with ensemble casts and a plank is the perfect exercise that everyone can do," says Higgins, the celebrity personal trainer responsible for getting the Barbie stars into tip-toe shape.
Margot Robbie holds second place in plank challenge with 4 minutes and 10 seconds 💪🏻 There is nothing Margot Robbie can’t do 🥈🏆 pic.twitter.com/Vy59p5X2O0
— Margo ♡ Watched Barbie 💝 (@MargoWithoutT) July 27, 2023
But what exactly is a plank, and what can it do for the non-dolls among us?
A plank is a core-focused exercise
A plank is an isometric exercise wherein you hold yourself up using your forearms and toes. It targets and strengthens the core by "activating muscles in the abdominal wall," Michele Scharff, a professor of sports science and physical education at Huntingdon College, tells Yahoo Life.
The exercise can be done virtually anywhere as there is no equipment needed, but experts say it is important not to let the simplicity compromise the execution.
"You need to engage your tummy not just do the exercise by just holding yourself up because a lot of people do it incorrectly," says Higgins, emphasizing the importance of bracing your core and maintaining a neutral spine while planking.
It targets all four muscle groups in the abdomen — and then some
One of the biggest pros of the exercise is its functionality as it targets multiple muscles at once.
"Planks 'make' the ab muscles along with the lower back muscles contract steadily. Think of a belt cinching in around the entire waist. That's what planks do," says Scharff.
Megan Roup, founder of the Sculpt Society workout class, says planks offer the most "bang for your buck" since it engages "your core, arms, shoulders, back and more."
It won't "give" you abs. But it can help build up those muscles
Higgins says it's important not to cast unrealistic expectations onto any exercise as there is no quick fix to obtaining Gosling's Ken-etched abs.
"You can't just do crunches or do a plank and think you're going to get abs," says Higgins.
Planks do work the rectus abdominis, also known as the "six-pack" muscles, but they alone won't give you abs of steel.
"What you're going to want to do is functional movements and look after your diet. That's what's gonna get you abs. No one exercise is gonna get you abs," says Higgins.
You have to work your way up
Robbie's plank time is no joke and it can be tempting to want to drop down and see if you can match her record. But experts caution it's best to work your way up in increments to avoid injury and minimize fatigue.
"You want to sort of build it up. Start with 20 seconds on, 10 seconds of rest. When that feels comfortable go up to 30 seconds and then build it up to 40 seconds, then over time, you get stronger and stronger," says Higgins.
And if you did try to beat Barbie's time and found yourself unable to make it past the 60-second mark, that's normal. "Our plank combinations [in class] typically last 30-45 seconds," says Roup, clarifying that Robbie's four-minute record far exceeds standard plank expectations. "I'm super impressed by Margot's numbers."
There are modifications and amplifications
At its core, a plank is a pretty basic move. But there are ways to spice it up or cool it down, depending on your individual needs.
"You can be on your hands or down on your forearms. You can elevate your plank or go down to your knees," says Roup, adding that using your hands or knees can make the exercises a little easier.
For those looking for a more targeted core exercise, Roup says "side planks" are a great way to target the obliques.
Almost anyone can do this exercise
One reason the plank has become such a popular exercise is its accessibility, as most people can easily incorporate it into their fitness routine.
"Anyone can do planks," says Roup. But those who are pregnant, have pre-existing injuries or conditions that may affect their breathing should hold off, at least until they can connect with a health professional.
"If you have a heart condition or something that affects the breathing it may not be good for you," says Higgins.
Overall, planks can be a great way to build up your core strength and can even serve as an avenue for some friendly rivalries as proven by the Barbie cast.
"It's a very fun and general exercise that you can implement into any exercise anywhere in the world. In any direction," says Higgins. "It's very versatile."