Do Planks Burn Fat?

Man doing plank exercises

The plank is an excellent exercise for strengthening core muscles and improving 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 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 – is a real struggle for many people. While low-calorie diets can help you lose weight, belly fat is usually the most stubborn and won’t disappear 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 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.

You have to lie flat on the floor or on a mat to do a plank correctly. 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 shoulder blades. 

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 oxygen to your muscles. 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. 

Improving posture

When you plank, your back muscles and those surrounding your spine strengthen. These muscles support your spine and help it hold a proper form. As a result, your body posture gets better.  

Boosting metabolism

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 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. 

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 plank variations

Woman doing planks

Walking plank 

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, burning more calories. 

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 hurry. 

Resistance plank

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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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 of the best fat-burning plank variations to try.

Check out this wonderful video for more ideas about variations of resistance plank:

 

Side plank 

Remember the obliques we talked about before? Doing a side plank helps you challenge those muscles and eliminate those love handles. 

To do a side plank, you should lie down on your side while holding your elbow under the shoulder blades, 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 plank

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.  

Alternating arm and leg raise

This plank variation is a good way to strengthen the core and lose weight. It targets the abs, glutes, hip flexors, lower back, obliques, quads, and shoulders. For this plank variation, start in the traditional plank position with your hands shoulder-width apart and your arms in a straight line. Keep the abdominal muscles engaged while raising your right leg off the floor until the leg is at hip height.

Now extend your left arm forward and hold the position for a few seconds before bringing the left arm and right leg back down to the floor. Repeat these reps to complete two sets of 10 reps.

This planking exercise challenges your core and helps you improve your balance and stability. Remember to breathe out as you extend your limbs and breathe in as you relax. Keep your head up and always look forward during this planking exercise to give your neck and upper shoulder muscles a good workout.

Reverse plank

The reverse plank is another great plank variation that helps you achieve a flat belly, and it is also good for targeting thigh fat. It 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. To further target a flat belly and thigh fat with the reverse plank, increase resistance training and include lower body exercises like lunges, wall sits, inner and outer thigh lifts, and step-ups with just your body weight.

Forearm plank

A forearm plank is a more traditional plank position and can be used to help boost your weight loss. If you are a beginner, this plank variation is for you. Start in the push up position and place your forearms on the ground.

Bend your elbows to 90-degrees and move forward to place your hands and forearms on the floor. You want to distribute your weight evenly on the upper arms. While doing the plank, focus on tightening your abs and glutes and keeping your torso straight.

You can also put some weight on your back. Look forward as you hold this plank position for 10 to 20 seconds and remember to breathe through it.

A forearm plank can effectively strengthen your core muscles, strengthens your lower back, and teaches you how to stabilize your body. The transversus abdominus is an overlooked muscle in many cases but is the muscle that gives you a flat stomach.

Plank and lunge workout

If you want to work your entire body and want a more intense workout than just planking exercises, then try to work your body with a plank and lunge workout. You will do the following compound exercise for a duration of about 20 seconds each with 10 seconds of rest following the exercise. There is one minute of rest following the final exercise.

  • Plank jacks
  • Forward-backward lunges
  • Side plank leg lifts
  • Alternating side lunges
  • Plank with bunny hop
  • Reverse lunges and kicks
  • Up down planks
  • Split lunge jumps

Repeat these exercises two times for a total body workout. Jumping lunges can also be used for fat and weight loss, but some may find it harder to maintain their balance after landing. If you choose to do jumping lunges while working out, make sure to keep your back straight for the workout duration.

Jumping lunges target larger muscle groups, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and hip flexors, and all this can expedite fat loss.

A compound exercise is the best exercise for working out multiple muscle groups simultaneously.

Mistakes to avoid making when doing a plank exercise

A good plank exercise is a way to go when you want to strengthen your core and focus more on the abdominal muscles. However, there are some mistakes you need to be aware of so you can avoid them during your plank pose.

Avoid lowering and raising your back

You need to ensure that your shoulder, back, and butt are all aligned when doing a plank. The lower body must rest on the toes, and the toes must be tucked inwards. Never dip your back or raise your butt.

Avoid pushing your stomach downward

One of the main reasons we do a plank exercise is to burn belly fat. So, if you lower or push your stomach down when holding a plank position, you won’t achieve the desired results. Keep your stomach in the air and align your back, shoulders, and butt.

Don’t hold the plank position for too long

If you hold your plank position for longer than thirty seconds, it is easy to lose focus on the abdomen. You can achieve your goals by holding the plank position correctly for less than thirty seconds. So, remember our advice the next time you want to participate in a plank challenge.

Conclusion

So, do planks burn fat? Yes! A good plank workout is a super-efficient exercise for building a strong core and preventing back pain or injuries. They also burn calories and body fat; however, try doing different planks to help burn more body fat and calories and engage more muscle groups. In addition to a plank workout, follow a healthy diet and incorporate compound exercise into your routine.

Last update on 2022-05-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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James Wright

James (36) has been working out since he was 15 years old. He has a home gym where he pumps iron, does bodyweight workouts and boxing. He likes sharing his experiences with others who want to build a better physique.

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