The plank is an excellent exercise for strengthening core muscles and improving your posture. Most people include planks in their exercise routine with the assumption that they can burn fat and flatten their bellies. But do planks burn fat?
Planks burn fat and calories, but the exact number of calories you burn depends on weight, metabolism, and muscle-to-fat ratio. The plank engages many muscles, but the main engagement occurs on the abdomen and glutes. What’s more, you can burn more fat and calories with more challenging plank variations.
Read on to learn more about planks and their benefits. We’ll tell you how planks affect your muscles and recommend some variations to make your exercise routine more challenging.
How Many Calories Do Planks Burn?
Planking burns calories, but the exact amount depends on factors like your weight, metabolism, and muscle-to-fat ratio.
Generally, more repetition results in more calories burned. And if your muscle-to-fat ratio is high, you’ll also burn more calories while you rest between repetitions.
For instance, if someone weighs about 110 lbs., they’ll burn 2 calories per minute. But a heavier person (say 150lbs) burns between 3 to 4 calories a minute.
However, some more complex plank variations, which we’ll discuss later, engage more muscles and burn more calories.
Can You Lose Weight With Planks?
Losing weight and burning fat – especially abdominal fat – for many people is a real struggle. While low-calorie diets can help you lose weight, belly fat is usually the most stubborn one and won’t go away easily.
Regular planking helps you shed some extra pounds by burning your waistline fat. Plank is a full-body exercise and engages various muscle groups. You can burn 2-5 calories per minute planking. It increases your metabolism, which means more calorie-burning. It also strengthens your core.
It may look easy, but holding planks requires many muscles to contract at once and keep your body in balance. Besides, practicing the more challenging plank variations helps you lose more weight and speed up the fat-burning process.
How Long Should You Hold A Plank To Lose Weight?
There’s no limit for the duration of plank exercise; the longer you can hold, the better. Most trainers propose holding for 1 minute to see its results – losing weight and toned waist. However, if you’re a beginner this can be a bit unrealistic. Hold plank for at least 30 seconds and gradually increase the duration.
The key is to include several planks sets in your exercise routine and do it regularly (at least every other day). You can also set goals for yourself and challenge your abdominal muscles.
How To Do Planks
Planking needs no equipment, and you can do it at home.
To do a plank correctly, you have to lie facedown on the floor or on a mat. BalanceFrom GoCloud Exercise yoga mat with carrying strap is a great option to prevent your legs or hands from slipping. It’s also moisture resistant and lightweight, making it a perfect addition to your gym gear.
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Lift your torso while keeping your elbows and forearm on the floor and precisely under the shoulders.
Squeeze your thighs and glutes and curl your toes inside. Then pull in your abdomen muscles around the belly button to increase engagement.
Now lift your knees and try to keep your back straight. Your whole body should be aligned in a straight line, your neck in a relaxed state, and your head’s crown slightly leaning forward, as if you’re pushing against an imaginary wall with your head.
Keep this body form for as long as you can and breathe to supply your muscles’ oxygen. You can start with short-time goals like 20 to 30 seconds and gradually increase the time as you get stronger.
Note: the critical point here is to keep a good form during planking to reap maximum benefits and guard your lower back. If you feel you’re losing form at any moment, lower your body and rest.
Here is a good video that helps you understand how to perform planks properly:
What Muscles Do Planks Affect?
Plank is mainly a core exercise, and if you do it properly, it will also engage all your body and abdominal muscles. These muscles include rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, internal and external obliques, and external obliques.
Rectus abdominis is the muscle pair along your abdomen wall, known as ab muscles – yes, six-pack muscles are made here.
The transverse abdominis – also called corset muscle – is a broad muscle pair on each side of the abdomen that stretches from the back to the front.
Obliques are a pair of muscles on each side of the abs, stretched from the hips to the ribcage.
Besides all the above, planks heavily engage your glutes. These are a group of muscles located on your hips and pelvis area.
Other Benefits of Planks
The plank is considered a whole-body workout and affects the entire body. Besides calorie and fat burning, it offers a lot of benefits for you to reap. Let’s see what they are.
When you plank, your back muscles and those that surround your spine get stronger. These muscles support your spine and help it hold a proper form. As a result, your body posture gets better.
The plank is a strength exercise and contributes to muscle-building. So, it improves your metabolism; in other words, it helps you burn more calories while you’re resting.
Improving Core Strength
As we mentioned before, plank mainly engages and strengthens the abdomen muscles. When you do planks regularly, you’ll build up more power in the abdomen, which increases its strength.
Reducing the Risk of Injury
Your core muscles play a very crucial role in supporting the spine and reducing the forces it tolerates. The stronger they are, the less pressure is on the spine while performing different tasks. Consequently, there will be less risk of back injury, pain, or strain.
Reducing Back Pain
Doing planks can be beneficial for those who suffer back or neck pain. Strong abs and core can better support your lower back and also improve its stability.
A study in 2019 found that doing strengthening exercises, including planks for three weeks, had a significant effect on reducing participants’ lower back pain.
However, if you decide to do planks or any exercise to alleviate back pain, you need to consult a doctor first.
More Challenging Planks Variations
As the name suggests, you need to really walk around in a plank position. During this challenging exercise, your upper and lower body muscles are also engaged, hence more calories are burned.
Start with a standard plank position and straighten your arms. While squeezing your glutes and abdomen, move your right hand and leg to the right. Then bring your left hand and leg to the center and get into the initial plank position.
Do at least five reps for each side or do it for about 30 seconds. The important point here is to do it in a controlled way and not to hurry.
The resistance plank is performed with the help of a resistance band, and it has many variations itself. You can use Fit Simplify resistance loop exercise bands that come with a guide and a carry bag. They come in five different resistant levels, suitable for different fitness levels.
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- Great with any workout. This resistance band set can be integrated seamlessly with various popular workout program. Or use them for general exercise, stretching, strength training, power weight programs. The included carry bag makes it easy to take your bands with you and do any workout away from home or your home gym.
For example, you can put a resistance band around your wrists and get in the plank position. Then stretch out your right wrist and hold for a few minutes. Then repeat with the other wrist.
You can also do this type of plank with a resistance band around your ankles. Resistance plank is one the best fat-burning plank variations to try Check out this wonderful video for more ideas about variations of resistance plank:
Remember the obliques we talked about before? Doing a side plank helps you challenge those muscles and get rid of those love handles.
To do a side plank, you should lie down on your side while holding your elbow under the shoulder, and your forearm is flat and on the floor.
Slowly raise your hips with your knees on the floor, and your legs stacked. Put your hand on your hip and tuck in your glutes for at least 30 seconds.
If you want to make it more challenging, you can raise your knees too and stack your feet. Raising your hand upward can also increase the challenge.
Leg-raise planks can be a perfect alternative for crunches and appear more effective in fat-burning. This kind of plank targets your abs and lower stomach muscles, which are hard to tone up.
To do a leg-raise plank, get in the basic plank position and alternatively raise your left and right legs almost to the hips’ height. Try to perform the movement for at least 30 seconds without interruption.
The reverse plank is another great variation of the plank that helps you have a flat belly. It also significantly improves your posture by strengthening your posterior muscles. Here is how to do a reverse plank:
Sit down on the floor and stretch your legs in front of you. Open up your palms and put them on the floor. Then raise your hips by pressing into your palms. Keep your body, legs, and arms straight.
Engage your core muscles by squeezing your belly button and pulling it inside. Stay in this position for at least 30 seconds, and then put your hips on the floor.
You can also do a reverse plank with your elbow and forearm on the floor.
Planks are a super-efficient exercise for building up your core strength and preventing back pain or injuries. They also burn calories and fat; however, trying different planks helps you burn more fat and calories and engage more muscle groups.
Last update on 2021-10-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API