Try resting your weight on your forearms with your thumbs facing upward and the rest of your weight on the balls of your feet. Hold this flattened-back plank position for a few minutes if you are able. Now imagine someone holding that position for five hours and fifteen minutes. One man has performed this phenomenal feat and is now the world-record holder. He is 57-year-old George Hood.
Growing up in Indiana, Pennsylvania, Hood did not participate in athletics.
“I had to work. I had a paper route and I worked at the grocery store, so I was not in any sports whatsoever,” said Hood.
It wasn’t until the summer between his sophomore and junior year at Indiana University of Pennsylvania that Hood began developing his fitness regimen. He enrolled in the university’s officer candidate school and was preparing to take the Marine Corps fitness test.
“I was training and running quite a bit back there. I started to get familiar with the weight room there at the fieldhouse and so forth, and so that's probably where it was started with me,” explained Hood.
Because Hood’s parents did not provide him with healthy role models to emulate, he carved his own fitness path. His military and career choices required him to be fit. Graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Government and Public Service, Hood was commissioned as a Marine Corps officer, where he was on active duty for about four years at Camp Pendleton in Southern California. After leaving the Marine Corps at the end of his contract, Hood was hired as a special agent with Naval Crime Investigative Service (NCIS). Prior to leaving the Marine Corp, Hood earned a masters degree in Forensic Science and also the rank of Captain. He retired from the DEA in 2008 after a brief tour in Afghanistan.
Hood’s rationale for staying remarkably fit these days is for different reasons.
“[It’s] about taking what I do from a fitness standpoint and showing that to the world and using that to draw attention to causes that are worth raising money for,” said Hood, who uses his record-breaking exploits to raise money for Marine Corp Semper Fi Fund. This benefits post-9/11 critically ill or injured members of all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces.
When Hood initially decided to break the plank record, it was held by a man in the United Kingdom.
That 2010 record was a comparatively mere 19 minutes and 58 seconds. Hood had set and held the plank record until September 2014, when a police officer in China held the position for 4 hours and 26 minutes. It did not take long for Hood to regain the record. On May 30, 2015, he exceeded that mark by holding the plank for 5 hours and 15 seconds.
This was certified by Assist World Records.
He uses a mental as well as his physical approach to achieve his phenomenal results. While holding the plank, Hood has coaches who help him achieve a Zen-like state through verbal prompts. This state enables Hood to lose track of time. At one point during the record-breaking attempt, he was asked what time he thought it was. Hood said he thought 3 hours and 15 minutes had passed. In actuality, he was at 4 hours and 20 minutes.
“It's a total mind-body connection, from head to toe, it really is,” said Hood.
Hood does not accept the typical paradigms that surround the aging process. His unconventional approach may be one of the reasons he has such a dynamic ability to beat Father Time.
“I don’t bode well with AARP and all these other organizations. I don't because I fly in the face of what they stand for. They'd rather see you sit back and collect your entitlements and your healthcare and Medicare,” said Hood.
Hood’s daily training involves a great deal of floor work. Daily, he holds the plank for a minimum of three to four hours each day in an eight-hour period. He performs this in sets, with two of the sets being a minimum of two hours. He also performs leg lifts, crunches, and push-ups.
“It's all the stuff we grew up with. We've never gotten away from that,” said Hood.
He reshaped his dietary principles in 2011. Hood reduced his sugar consumption and dropped ten pounds. He will not eat a protein bar, fruit juice, or anything else that has more than seven grams of sugar. He also reduced his carb intake.
“I don't do the pasta like I used to do. I miss it. I used to eat that all the time, you know. But the white rice, the carbs—I haven't had a sandwich in years,” explained Hood.
Hood continues to look forward to breaking records and raising money for causes he supports.
“I'm having fun, but I think as long as I'm physically able, I have to be active, so I'm going to keep moving,” said Hood