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After seeing footage of George Hood breaking the planking record for a second time in 2020, Daniel Scali was so inspired that, in January of this year, he began training for his own attempt. However, in order to smash Hood’s benchmark of eight hours, 15 minutes and 15 seconds, the man from Adelaide, Australia, would need to take into account the fact that he suffers from complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), a condition that causes persistent and excruciating pain in his left arm.
Scali developed CRPS as a result of falling from a tree when he was 12 years old. His planking record was undertaken in large part to raise awareness of the condition. So far he’s raised more than $20,000 for the cause (to support CRPS, visit painaustralia.org.au, or your local CRPS resource).
Battling on for an incredible nine hours, 30 minutes, and one second, with the help of a compression band and a positive mindset, Scali’s entry into the Guinness World Records was confirmed on Aug. 6. The 28-year-old’s feat is an inspirational story illustrating that we are all capable of pushing through seemingly impossible mental and physical limitations. Scali explains the serious training and willpower that made victory possible.
Had you ever attempted something like this before?
This was my second record attempt. My first official record attempt was on June 18, 2021, but it was declined. I reached nine hours, nine minutes, and nine seconds, but upon video review it was not approved, as officials stated that my hips were angled.
You have never let CRPS dictate your ambitions. What would you say to others who may have mental or physical challenges but still have dreams to fulfill?
You need to first change your mindset away from the “why me” and “I can’t do that … because” to “I can do this… and I will.” You are going to need to accept the cards you got dealt with, and use the pain as fuel. Keep pushing!
Was there a moment during your successful attempt when you thought you might fail? How did you push past this?
At the four-hour mark, knowing I wasn’t even half way through, and thinking to myself, “How am I going to get through another five hours?” I remember looking down and using a visualization technique, in which I picture the nine-hour mark on the timer. When my body started to turn on me at the six- to seven-hour mark, I began to vomit on myself. I began to go into a stress mode, as I was pushing my body to its limits, but once again, I used the visualization of finishing the attempt and then told myself, “You are not going to fail now.”
Nine hours is a lot of time to reflect! Were your thoughts traveling all over the place?
I was constantly scanning my body to alleviate pain, changing the color of my pain (which was red) to yellow, and visualizing the nine hours. I would take myself away mentally. I would then put something on, in my mind [like watching a television], that would really capture and maintain my attention. If you ask me now what episode I was watching and what happened, I wouldn’t be able to tell you though!
What does ‘mind-muscle’ connection mean to you?
This is huge. I deliberately place my attention on certain aspects of my body. For example, when I am training biceps, I would focus my mind to concentrate on the muscle as it is contracting. When I was planking, I would tense my back and make it feel solid. I believe this is what gave me the growth that I needed. I visualized parts of my body becoming stronger after every training session, and every plank.
Does planking specifically help with ab definition? Would you recommend planking as part of everyone’s fitness routine?
Planking has definitely helped me achieve greater ab definition. I believe everyone should try and incorporate five minutes of planking into each day, just as people aim for 10,000 steps per day. This can be broken down into one-minute intervals to begin with. I genuinely believe that the plank is the best full-body exercise one can do. The benefits of the plank will improve your posture, core strength and improve your overall mental health.
While training for this, you were burning 4,600 calories per day. How important was it to track your energy expenditure?
To know what I was burning each day was really important in order to keep my energy levels ups. To give you an idea; I usually ate oats, banana and peanut butter for breakfast as I found this would fuel me after my early morning gym session. Lunch would be white rice, broccolini, and green beans. Dinner entailed a lean protein with potatoes and other mixed vegetables, followed by a protein shake. My go-to snacks were typically almonds and walnuts. My macros were 37% protein, 33% carbs, and 30% fat. Everyone is different though, so I recommend following a nutritional plan that your own body responds to best.
During the successful record attempt, I burned around 1,700 calories. I drank 3 liters of water and a consumed a few hydrolytes to avoid dehydration.
What level of fitness did you have before you embarked on serious training for the record?
I always had a passion for weight and cardio training. I would usually just go to the gym on my lunch break and train two muscle groups in the session with six exercises per muscle, and then I would go for a 2.5-mile run after work. Obviously, all this significantly increased during my preparation for the plank.
What did the training phase look like?
I committed to the plank on Jan. 28, 2021. From there, all my focus and attention was on the plank. I would not miss a day of training or planking. Other events were either put on hold, or I did not attend them. There was no room for unhealthy eating or drinking.
In total, I would train for seven hours each day, seven days a week. Each morning I woke up at 5 a.m. and would do a group fitness class for 50 minutes, followed by a 2.5-mile run. In my lunch break, I would go to the gym for one hour and then plank after work from 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Did you get any advice and coaching during your training?
It was very hard to get advice on how to condition for this attempt, as it is very different from other endurance training. Michael Sorgiovanni at Living Your Power Now is my mind coach. He gave me the tools that I need to get it done. I knew this attempt was going to be just as tough mentally as physically. Jacqueline Polec, a trainer with JCFit aus coached my cardio and core classes each morning. Jacqueline is a specialist in cardio and core strength. I found this to be very beneficial in the lead up to my attempt. I also trained with the Functional Therapy Academy. This is where I conditioned my shoulders because they seemed to burnout fastest for me during planking. The academy coach, Eddie is a great body manipulator and helped to prepare my muscles.
Do you have your sights on any other records?
At the moment, my main objective is to continue to raise awareness for chronic pain sufferers, particularly CRPS. I may have something in mind, that I wouldn’t mind achieving, but I’m staying tight lipped. We will have to wait and see!
5:30 a.m. – Cardio / Core Session
6:30 a.m. – 2.5-mile run
7 a.m. – 600 x cable resistance arm curls
1 p.m. – Weight session: (Scroll down to view)
5:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m: Plank session