Does planking burn fat? You’ve heard the famous debate about whether planks burn fat, especially around the abs. The exercise looks simple enough, but is it? Will you genuinely lose weight and burn calories while planking? Also, you likely wonder if you’re doing it right.
The last question is likely the most important one because incorrect planking won’t bring results. Say what? Indeed, discover whether planking burns fat and calories while seeing why an improper form can make the exercise as useful as couch surfing.
Can You Lose Weight From Planking?
Does planking burn fat and help you lose weight? Here’s how planking leads to fat burn and other weight loss benefits
- Planks may speed up your resting metabolism (4)
- Having more ab muscles may speed up the metabolism (8)
- A faster metabolism burns more calories (8)
That’s simply a brief overview. Instead, let’s dive into why planking helps you lose weight and burn calories and fat.
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60-Second Plank Calories
Plank calories burned don’t sound like much per minute until you realize how you can burn more calories during rest if you plank correctly. The daily calories burned calculator shows that you’ll burn three calories per minute if you weigh between 130-150 lbs. (11).
However, it isn’t that simple because the amount of calories you burn per minute also depends on your muscle-to-fat ratio and metabolism. The Mayo Clinic explains how a faster metabolism and having more muscle burn more calories during rest (8).
Your body is constantly burning calories, even during rest. It has to turn food into energy for basic body functions such as breathing, hormone regulation, and more. The number of calories your body uses for energy during rest is called the basal metabolic rate (BMR). Muscle tissue contributes to an increased BMR.
The more muscle mass you have, the more efficient your metabolism is and burns calories at rest. Still, other factors also influence BMR, including (8):
- Gender: Men tend to have more muscle and burn calories faster
- Body Composition: More muscle mass equals a higher BMR and increased calorie-burning
- Age: Older people typically lose muscle mass, which can result in a reduced BMR
You’ll likely burn three calories in 60 seconds of planking. However, your BMR determines how many calories you burn during resting periods after planking.
Will Planks Burn Belly Fat?
Planking to burn belly fat is possible because of the muscle-building benefits that increase your muscle mass to enhance your BMR (8). Physio-Pedia shows the abdominal muscle groups a traditional plank uses when you apply the proper technique (12):
- External Obliques: On your sides to help with sideways movements
- Internal Obliques: Under the external obliques also help with twists and side bends
- Rectus Abdominis: The abs that help you bend forward
- Transversus Abdominis: Runs from your torso to your pelvis to keep your spine erect
- Latissimus Dorsi: Runs from the upper arm to the lower back. Their predominant function is assisting in pulling movements.
- Erector Spinea: Runs along the side of the spine and plays a crucial role in supporting the back, maintaining posture, and extending the spine.
A small study of one middle-aged man by Korean researchers displayed that high-intensity planks improved the man’s body composition and muscle mass over four weeks (4). The man increased his skeletal muscle mass by 3.1% however caution is needed due to the small sample size
Planks might not directly target fat burning, but the muscle-building effects help your body’s BMR and metabolism rid you of belly fat and calories. What burns more calories to enhance your planking exercises?
Add Cardio for More Calorie Cuts
Cardio workouts may burn calories faster if you add them to your plank routine. You saw how many calories you burn with planks. The University of Rochester has a calorie calculator that shows how many calories you burn in an hour per cardio workout if you weigh 150 lbs. (2):
- High-Intensity Cardio: 504
- 20 mph Cycling: 1188
- Vigorous Calisthenics: 576
- Circuit Training: 576
- Swimming Laps: 720
The numbers appear much higher. Still, let’s change the plank time to 30 minutes to accommodate someone planking for 60 seconds and taking 60-second breaks for an entire hour. It isn’t possible for most trainers, but it would burn 107 calories (11).
Unfortunately, planking that long in a day isn’t logical. Instead, add cardio workouts to your planking routine to maximize calories burned. However, don’t lose planks because of the muscle-building benefits that help your body burn calories during rest (8).
Read more: 5 Plank Wall Exercises For A Powerful Core.
More Muscle Groups Activated With Planks
You’ll lose body fat everywhere you bulk muscles with planks. Insider shows other muscle planks target as a full-body workout (16):
Other Planking Benefits
- Improved cardiorespiratory fitness (maximum oxygen uptake)
- Enhanced muscle strength, endurance, and flexibility
- Increased white blood cells
Harvard suggests a strong core is necessary for good posture and reduced lower back pain (15). Weak core muscles can result in the surrounding muscles to overcompensate, which may cause pain over time.
Is 1-Minute Plank a Day Enough?
Plank stomach and body benefits may occur in a minute for each hold. A 30-60 second plank is considered below average but works for beginners (12). Holding a minute will just push you into the average time most people hold.
Times of India states that a 60-second plank is an effective duration (10). However, Harvard says 10-30 seconds is also effective enough with rest between holds if you do multiple sets daily (15). Start with what feels comfortable, but progress the hold weekly.
For example, use this progression to maximize your planks as a beginner:
- Week 1: 3 plank sets with 10-20-second holds and 10-20-second rests
- Week 2: 3 plank sets with 20-30-second holds and 20-30-second rests
- Week 3: 3 plank sets with 30-50-second holds and 30-50-second rests
- Week 4: 3 plank sets with 50-60-second holds and 50-60-second rests
Progress the weeks further by adding more sets and increasing your hold time until you reach two-minute planks.
Is Doing a 2-Minute Plank Good?
Two-minute planks are challenging. Physio-Pedia ranks a two-minute plank as an above-average hold (12). However, Harvard suggests two minutes is long enough per set and claims you won’t see many benefits after that (15). Besides, you will want to speed up calorie-burning effects during your resting state. Two minutes is good with 1-minute breaks.
Plank Mistakes to Avoid
Harvard, India Times, and Physio-Pedia agree that improper form won’t do you any good with planking (15, 10, 12). Using the wrong form during a plank means you may not activate the intended muscles necessary to build muscle to burn calories.
- Maintain a straight body line from head to toe.
- Stop your belly and pelvis from sagging by engaging your abs and glutes
- Don’t lower or raise your back or buttocks during a plank
- Avoid trying to master proper form as a beginner by planking on your elbows
- Don’t hold a position longer if you can’t keep your line straight
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Planks for Weight Loss
Does planking burn fat? Of course, planks might not burn fat overnight, but they help toward your dreams of a flat belly. However, they activate muscles that burn calories and tone your body. Let’s discover planks and variations to use to lose weight. Hold all planks for as long as you are comfortable before progressing with your exercises.
Holding a traditional plank in the correct position will ensure you benefit by toning your abs and burning fat around the belly (10). Remember to be aware of your form during the exercise, whether doing the high or forearm plank.
- Lie on the floor on your forearms,
- Engage your core and glute muscles as you breathe deeply before rising,
- Use your forearms (or flat hands with a high plank) to push your weight up,
- Don’t use your hips to rise because they will sag,
- Position yourself to be a straight body line parallel to the floor,
- Hold the position while gazing at the floor and breathing deeply.
Korean research found that the reverse plank can help improve muscle balance in the upper body and alignment of the shoulder position, which can positively influence good posture(7). Here’s how to do reverse planks:
- Sit flat on the floor while stretching your legs out in front of you,
- Point your fingers toward your hips as you place your hands next to them,
- Your hands should be slightly wider than your shoulders,
- Press down on your palms as your hips rise until you form a straight line,
- Keep your neck relaxed and your core muscles engaged while breathing deeply,
- Hold your arms and legs as straight as you can for the plank.
Side Plank Hip Lifts
Side plank hip lifts challenge you more (13). This plank variation can improve your oblique activation down the sides of your torso and can help effectively strengthen the core muscles. Here’s the plank variation:
- Prop yourself up on your elbow from a side-lying position,
- Your elbow must lie directly under your shoulder,
- Straighten your body and core while engaging your muscles and breathing deeply,
- Keep your line and body parallel to the floor as you push with stacked feet,
- Keep your core and glutes engaged through the hold,
- Slowly lower your hips back to the floor.
Side Plank Crunch
The Women’s Health Magazine recommends a side plank crunch (6). The variation targets your upper body, shoulders, chest, and back muscles, and the unilateral emphasis adds an additional challenge in comparison to a traditional plank. It can also add a cardio boost with a crunch. Here’s how you can do a side plank crunch:
- Lie on your side with your left elbow under your shoulder,
- Extend your legs straight and stack your feet,
- Breathe and engage your belly as you bring the right knee to the right elbow,
- Return to the starting position and repeat 12 times,
- Switch sides and do the same 12 times.
Crunches or Planks for Belly Fat?
Surprisingly, crunches burn the same calories as planks per minute. You only burn three calories per minute while doing crunches if you weigh 150 lbs. (3). However, 10 minutes can l burn 33 calories because you’re enjoying a cardio workout, too. Still, crunches and planks burn the same calories, meaning the side crunch plank can be better to double the burn.
The American Sports and Fitness Association recommends plank walkouts as an excellent alternative (18). Plank walkouts challenge core stability further while enhancing upper and lower body strength. Also, they increase the calories burned. Here’s how to do it:
- Get into a high plank position with your line parallel to the floor,
- Walk your left hand as far forward as possible while keeping a straight line,
- Slowly walk your right hand to meet it until they’re shoulder-width apart,
- Slowly step your right hand back before doing the same on your left,
- Complete the set with alternating hands five more times.
Have you heard of the Spiderman plank (14)? The Spiderman plank variation welcomes cardio training to a full-body, muscle-toning exercise. It can also improve your balance, burn more calories, and hit the quads. Here’s how you do it:
- Get onto your hands and knees before entering a dead-straight forearm plank,
- Bring your right knee to the outside of your right elbow,
- Return to the forearm plank slowly before repeating the move on the other side.
Progressively challenge yourself by doing the Spiderman plank with a twist (14). Bring your right knee to your left elbow and vice versa for a criss-cross movement instead.
Superman Plank (Advanced)
Speaking of Spiderman, the Superman plank is another excellent variation. Men’s Health suggests the Superman plank challenges the anti-extension ab function to enhance your core workout (17). Beginners beware, but advanced trainers supercharge your core workout with these steps:
- Enter a high plank with your line straight,
- Walk your hands beyond your shoulders with palms flat on the floor,
- Squeeze your abs and glutes hard to prevent your back from arching,
- Raise one hand to shoulder height, like Superman flying,
- Raise the alternate leg out into s dead straight position,
- Keep your core tense while you hold the arm straight for 10 seconds,
- Don’t allow your shoulders or back to drop,
- Bring the arm back before repeating on the other side,
- Do at least three sets per side as an advanced trainer.
Exercises to Burn Belly Fat
Adding other belly fat-burning exercises to planks will only tone your stomach more. Let’s discover which exercises you can add to your planks daily to tone envious-inducing abs.
Cardio May Burn More Belly Fat
You’ve already discovered that adding cardio will enhance your plank workouts. However, did you know cardio can also help burn more belly fat? The British Heart Foundation states that any aerobic exercise can be effective in increasing fat loss (including belly fat) r such as these cardio workouts (20):
- Brisk walking
Aim for 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of high-intensity cardio with your planks weekly (20). Also, you must eat a healthy diet, maintain a calorie deficit, and sleep well to burn total fat and belly fat with cardio and planking.
Other Exercises to Burn Belly Fat
Any exercise that targets your abdominal and core muscles can help speed up your BMR by contributing to increased muscle mass and, therefore, a higher muscle-to-fat ratio (8). Adding more resistance-based exercises can improve your total belly fat-burning goals. WebMD recommends these exercises to target the abs and belly fat (19):
- Bicep curls
- Bicycle crunches
- High-intensity interval training (HIIT)
- Knee tucks
- Leg lifts
- Mountain climbers
- Scissor kicks
- Toe touches
- Tricep kickbacks
Do Planks Give Abs?
A small Korean research study of one middle-aged man displayed that regular and consistent planks can tone and strengthen the muscles in your core and abs (4). Muscle endurance and flexibility also improve. However, participants planked between 15.85 and 18.83 minutes five days weekly for four weeks. Resting times between the planks daily were 13-14 minutes. Planking alone requires dedication and effort to build abs.
How Much Fat Does a 2-Minute Plank Burn?
How much fat you burn depends on your metabolic rate and muscle-to-fat ratio. The average person who weighs 150 pounds can burn six calories every two minutes (11). Planking can activate and help build muscles, which can result in a higher metabolism and burn more calories (4, 8). The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn in your resting state after planks.
What Happens If I Plank Everyday for 30 Days?
You may reduce your waist circumference if you plank daily for 30 days. Indian researchers compared a 30-day plank versus an abdominal workout challenge (9). Planking for 30 days was as effective as the abdominal workout challenge in reducing waist circumference and skinfold issues in young, healthy adults.
The Bottom Line
Does planking burn fat? You know all the answers now. Planking properly with added cardio, ab-crunching workouts, a calorie deficit, and an adequate diet can help turn a flabby stomach into a toned belly. Planking variations can also effectively help the process. Pick your planks and any additions, and start your belly-toning, fat-burning exercises today.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Are Planks Good For Abs? The Truth About This Popular Workout (2022, betterme.world)
- Calorie Burn Rate Calculator (n.d., urmc.rochester.edu)
- Crunches Calories Burned (n.d., dailycaloriescalculator.com)
- Effects of High-Intensity Plank Exercise on Physical Fitness and Immunocyte Function in a Middle-Aged Man: A Case Report (2021, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- How to Do a Plank Exercise to Strengthen Core Without Back Injury (2022, today.com)
- How to Do a Side Plank Crunch: The Bodyweight Move That Tones Your Arms, Back, and Core (2020, womenshealthmag.com.uk)
- Immediate Effects of the Reverse Plank Exercise on Muscle Thickness and Postural Angle in Individuals with the Forward Shoulder Posture (2022, mdpi.com)
- Metabolism and Weight Loss: How You Burn Calories (2022, mayoclinic.org)
- (PDF) Effect of 30 Days Abdominals Challenge Versus 30 Days Planks Challenge on Waist Circumference and Abdominal Skin Fold Measurements in Healthy Young Individuals: Randomized Clinical Trial (2016, researchgate.net)
- Plank (2019, timesofindia.indiatimes.com)
- Plank Calories Burned (n.d., dailycaloriescalculator.com)
- Plank Exercise – Physiopedia (n.d., physio-pedia.com)
- Side Plank Hip Lifts to Activate Your Obliques and Boost Your Core Strength (2023, betterme.world)
- Spiderman Plank: One Simple Exercise to Tone Up Your Whole Body (2022, betterme.world)
- Straight Talk on Planking (2019, health.harvard.edu)
- The Health Benefits of Plank Exercises, and How to Do a Plank Properly (2020, insider.com)
- The Superman Alternating Plank Exercise Trains Your Core (2022, menshealth.com)
- Tone Your Full Body and Stability: The Top 10 Benefits of Plank Walkouts (n.d., americansportsandfitness.com)
- Top Exercises for Belly Fat (2023, webmd.com)
- What’s the Best Exercise to Lose Belly Fat? (n.d., bhf.org.uk)