josef salek split image

The abdominal plank is one of the most punishing exercises going, with many people struggling to maintain the form for just a few minutes.

So, imagine staying in that position for longer than your working day!

Josef Šálek (Czech Republic also known as Czechia) pushed through the pain to establish a new world record for the longest time in an abdominal plank position (male) with a staggering 9 hr 38 min 47 sec.

The record was previously held by Daniel Scali (Australia) with a time of 9 hr 30 min 1 sec.

Josef, a therapist, lecturer and personal development coach who is better known as Joska, took on the mammoth challenge at the AVATAR festival at the Park Hotel in Pilsen, Czech Republic, on 20 May.

Joska’s story is an inspirational one, with him completely overhauling his philosophy on life.

He was living what he described as a life of excess and bad health until a life-changing event made him rethink everything and go on to become the motivational coach that he is today.

He said: “Five years ago, I was 15 kilos (33 lb) overweight, I used to be fond of alcohol and cigarettes.

“But a certain life-changing moment brought me to this transformation, so the thing I want to give to the world is that no matter your age, you can just make changes to feel happier, more vital, and healthier.

“It is, in fact, the very message I wanted to spread by breaking the record.”

josef salek in his plank position

His transformation has been anything but plain sailing.

Four years ago, while he was travelling to Sri Lanka, he was detained at passport control in the UAE due to a case of mistaken identity.

He was kept in prison for months.

Joska did his best to maintain a positive attitude, keeping himself busy by playing sports and sticking to a strict personal exercise routine.

He also wrote down his story to pass the time until he was released.

josef salek grins at the camera

Despite it all, he says: “I am a happy person today. I am grateful for what I experienced and managed, because today it can inspire many to the fact that it is possible to overcome any unpleasant circumstance and push the physical and mental boundaries beyond the horizons of our imagination.”

It was thanks to that life lesson that he managed to push through his pain barriers and earn his record title.

Watched by a crowd of supportive festival goers, Joska stayed in his plank position, on top of a raised platform, for the staggering length of time.

He was kept entertained by the people who lined up in front of him to see how long they could keep a plank position going, with each of them crumpling to the ground while Joska maintained his rock solid plank.

Guinness World Records Adjudicator Jack Brockbank was there to monitor Joska’s record attempt.

josef salek is watched by adjudicator jack brockbank

He said Joska passed the first few hours with relative ease, but that the strain began to show on his face around the seven-hour mark. However, he managed to push through it and smash the record.

“This Guinness World Records title is an extreme feat of both physical and mental endurance.” - Jack Brockbank, Guinness World Records Adjudicator

Fitness trainer and expert witness to Joska’s attempt, David Maršálek, said they’ve been working together for one year.

He said David has some health issues, including back ache, which meant they had to adapt a new technique for his plank position so he wouldn’t injure himself.

While David was by Joska’s side throughout his attempt, he said his success was entirely down to Joska’s own strength and determination.

josef salek supported by a crowd during his record attempt

Joska said: “I felt mentally ready, not physically, because my longest uninterrupted training took three and a half hours and I had major complications when I tried to stretch the time staying in a plank position.

“I knew that in my case it’s not about demanding physical training, but rather about mastering the process… about my mindset.

“My favourite mental technique, which I was using during the longest plank, was acceptance. When you embrace the difficulty of the exercise together with the fact that life is not only about the pleasant and easy stuff, but also about the unpleasant elements.

“So that I told myself, that it’s an integral part of life and the exercise, so why do I want to overcome it, to fight with it? So that I just accept it because this way it’s all right.”

It was a tough ride for Joska to get over that crucial 9 hr mark.

josef salek tries to maintain his focus

He said: “Sure, there were critical moments. The most critical came between the seventh and eighth hour.

“I started to feel quite dizzy, in severe pain, but I had faith too and people believed in me, and these powerful feelings blended together and helped me to perform and complete the task successfully.”

As Joska surpassed the previous record, the crowd cheered and sprayed bottles of champagne in celebration, and it was clearly a touching moment for him.

A huge smile spread across his face, and he gave the audience two thumbs up to show his appreciation for their unwavering support.

josef salek worked hard to maintain his form

The crowd erupted into applause as Jack officially declared Joska’s record attempt successful and handed him his certificate.

A proud Joska held it up above his head and the look on his face said it all.

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