62 -Year Old George Hood from Naperville breaks Guinness World record after Planking for 8 hours
Only the forearms and toes of George Hood touched the platform, as he held the rest of his body in midair: an exercise, known as planking
Only the forearms and toes of George Hood touched the platform, as he held the rest of his body in midair: an exercise, known as planking, for its core but also its arms and legs. Propelled by the mix of heavy metal songs blaring over all the speakers, the 62-year-old from Naperville, Ill., wasn't watching the clock or even the time between his hands on the phone to monitor the sound. He only drank intermittent sips of water and did not eat much at all. Instead, he was planking and planking and planking. 8 hours, 15 minutes and 15 seconds later, when he fully unlocked his thighs and reached out his arms, Hood had smashed the abdominal plank Guinness world record.
The record-breaking feat, officially announced by Guinness last week, completes nearly a decade of planning for the former Marine and Drug Enforcement Administration officer, who worked every day for hours to raise awareness of mental health issues. And "A lot of my age-group peers. They are using that as an excuse. 'Oh, I'm too old,' he said late Monday at the Washington Post. 'Well, I'm changing all that. I'm in the best shape of my life and that's how everyone should feel.'
Mao Weidong of China, who held a flank for eight hours, one minute and one second in 2016, set the previous record for men's planking. Canadian Dana Glowacka holds the current women's record at 4 hours 19 minutes 55 seconds. Then Hood said he couldn't remember exactly how he learned about the board a decade ago when the workout in the U.S. fitness world was unheard of. Yet he got hooked quickly when he did, and by early 2011, at age 53, at his gym in Illinois, he was practising the move for five minutes at a time.
"It was an exercise in statics. No movement was involved. I could put music in the gymnasium in my ears and lay down on the floor and plank," he said. "Then I said to myself,' I think I can do this, I'm going to try it out,' and I did."
In reality, he did. In December 2011, just a few months into his training, Hood kept the pose straight for an hour and 20 minutes, shattering the Guinness world record for planking. By that time, he said, this had become an addiction.
"I have done that every day," Hood said. "I'd be blowing things off to get my boards in. It used to be like candy."
He had long been used as a former Marine and DEA Special Supervisory Agent to carry out fitting the position with his occupations. Yet planking offered a sort of mental tranquility that weightlifting and other gym workouts could never do.
"I don't have to be sitting in traffic when I plane. I don't like to buy the gas. I don't have to sit down and hear anybody. Keep complaining of how tired they are," he said. "I'm just planking and this gives me the happiness I like."
Planking actually, has allowed him to work through personal issues. While talking to himself or others mid-plank, he often gets ensconced in his emotions, which both distract him and fuel him to hold the pose for longer. Part of his goal in setting the Guinness record was to raise awareness, particularly among military and law enforcement officers, about mental health issues.
Hood's vigorous poses as he prepared for hours became a full-time job. In the mid-2010s, he was invited to Asia for international planking contests and performed a multi-hour boarding plank on the USS Midway in memory of Veterans Day. Eventually, the cornerstone of his home became an elevated platform for planking.
"My plank is my best friend," he said. "Have I got a social life? No, not really one to write about because all I do is practice.
Chinese Mao had far exceeded his original record in 2014, and two years later he beat the American at the same event that Hood had overtaken his own record. There was always another record to match, or another record to beat the record which would come up in the queue of Guinness title claims. But Hood began to realize the toll his planking addiction took on him and he was ready to call it quits. Except he wanted to leave the same way he started his planking career — with a Guinness world record.
As part of his 18-month planning, Hood stuck to a strict training scheme that took about seven hours a day: 700 push-ups, 2,000 crunches, 500 toe squats, 500 band twists, 30 minutes of cardio and four to five hours of planking, divided into three sets or less. Meals were split between them so that Hood wasn't finished with his last week's board until 10 p.m. on Sundays.
Feb 15th morning the challenge demanded an even more strict routine: Hood woke up four hours before the planking, dropped half a cup of oatmeal, an egg and plenty of water, before purging his body of any food to keep the pose without having to go to the bathroom for more than eight hours. Then came the rock music: Van Halen and Ted Nugent, Deep Purple's "Highway Star" and Rammstein's "Du Hast," all performed in the gym on earsplitting decibels to inspire him to keep the position for longer than most people sleep at night.
"I'm playing it so loud that I'm reviving a dream I've had as a college kid, wanting to be a rock star, rolling into a stadium with my semi-truck and my band and singing to a crowd of 50,000," he said. "At least at this last event, I was the biggest rock star ever to have lived in that place for eight hours, 15 minutes, 15 seconds." Around two-thirds of the way down his plank came a tribute to veterans, during which others created a monument of "battlefield cross" using the equipment of troops such as military boots and a sandbag.
He took a brief break once the world record was his, and celebrated with 75 straight push-ups. He told The Post that breaking the world record for push-ups is one of his next two goals.