A lot of people online and offline are singing the praises of doing planks every day. In line with this, many fitness experts and gurus alike have introduced daily plank challenges to encourage even more people to get on board with doing planks daily. The promise is that by doing this exercise for at least a minute every day, you can get washboard abs. Since a lot of people are yearning for that six-pack, they immediately take the dive straight into such challenges. A question arises, can planking for a minute or so every day really help with bringing on your six-pack? Let us find out!
For many, getting ripped abs is their ultimate fitness goal. Such people are willing to do any exercise they hear guarantees such results. Over time, the plank exercise has become quite popular everywhere, due to this promise. You can find people doing planks every day for at least a minute in the hopes of getting their ripped abs. But are these the actual results they reap from planking?
In this article, we take a comprehensive look at both the benefits and drawbacks of doing planks every day. We will also provide you with a guide on how to properly plank in order to reap the named benefits. The goal here is to equip you with essential knowledge on this exercise before doing planks every other day.
Why Do Planks Every Day?
Many of us may give in to such a challenge because of the fuss surrounding it. When you find your colleagues, partner, or family members doing planks and crunches every day, you are very likely to tag along for the social aspect of it.
Although it is nice to exercise, such a move is the wrong way to go, as you do not have a goal behind doing planks every day. You may start the challenge just to impress your partner or support your sister or brother. Unknowingly, down the line, you will end up throwing in the towel.
This could happen because you do not have a solid goal that will often motivate you to keep up with the challenge. Knowing this, take the time and dig deep into why you ought to start up such an exercise program. In most cases, your goal will align with the benefits of doing the exercises. Let us analyze the benefits of doing planks every day.
The Benefits Of Doing Planks Every Day
When most people think of doing planks, they immediately think of getting a six-pack. It is perhaps the most common reason why people do these exercises. However, planking has more health benefits than just sculpting your abdominal area. Here are some of these benefits:
Of course, we will start with the benefit that most people are familiar with and that is getting ripped abs. When it comes to ab exercises, planks rank among the best (1). Most people compare crunches to planks when it comes to training your abdominal area for a six-pack.
According to WebMD, doing crunches for a lean midsection is also an excellent idea. However, according to these fitness experts you will have to quickly progress to another ab exercise if you want crunches to blast fat in your abdominal region (1).
In light of this, experts recommend doing the plank exercise. This is because it works most of your abdominal muscles, including your internal and external obliques, transversus abdominis, and rectus abdominis (1). The rectus abdominis refers to the top abdominal muscle layer, while the transversus abdominis refers to the deepest abdominal muscle (1).
However, remember that you cannot just get refined abs by doing this exercise. Good nutrition is critical, and this is why you must watch your diet. Eating a balanced and healthy diet that helps you maintain a calorie deficit helps shed fat around your abdomen. As a result, your diet will shorten your road to getting a six-pack (9). Talk to your nutritionist for more insight on the best meals to help you shed fat or maintain a calorie deficit.
Reduced Love Handles
Do not be fooled by the name. There is nothing to love about these love handles. They refer to the fat deposits sitting around your waistline. Some people may refer to them as muffin tops. These muffin tops are associated with various health problems, which is why you must aim at blasting fat around your waistline.
Mayo Clinic acknowledges that an expanded waistline is linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, abnormal cholesterol, and breathing problems (2).
To avoid the risk of getting these conditions, the Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) suggests maintaining various waist sizes. Women are advised to keep their waist size or circumference below 35 inches (6). Men, on the other hand, are advised to keep it below 40 inches (6).
Doing planks can help you trim down to these inches. The most effective plank variation to help in reducing your love handles is the side plank. It targets the muscles along the sides of your body, better known as your obliques (8). Talk to your fitness coach before progressing to doing the side plank variation instead of the regular plank every day.
Improved Core Strength
Medical News Today also acknowledges that doing the regular high plank every day can help improve core strength (10). The exercise targets all your core muscles, including your erector spinae, transversus abdominis, rectus abdominis, lumbar multifidus, internal and external obliques (10).
These core muscles need to be strengthened as they help support other body functions. These include (10):
- Reducing back pain
- Improving your balance, flexibility, and stability
- Preventing your risk of falls and injuries
Another study also acknowledges that core strength can protect the spine from excessive force generation during sporting activities (3). It might explain why athletes are often advised to add planks to their workout program. Please note, you can only improve your core strength by doing planks in the correct form. So, take your time and learn how to plank correctly.
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Improved Overall Health And Fitness
Improved overall health and fitness are also the results of doing planks every day. These exercises target various muscle groups, making them particularly effective at improving your overall fitness. The regular plank targets your back and core muscles. Others, like the side plank variation, target your butt, hips, and abdominal muscles (11).
Planks tend to give all these areas a good work out, which explains why this exercise can help tone your entire body. You also get to shed tremendous body fat, which is linked to a reduced risk of obesity and other fatal health conditions.
Some of these include various cancers, type 2 diabetes, Congestive Heart Failure, hypertension, stroke, Coronary Artery Disease, osteoarthritis, and pulmonary embolism (5). Since doing planks helps reduce your body fat and obesity risk, it also reduces your risk of these obesity-related health conditions.
Improved Daily Functioning
By only doing planks every day one can improve the functionality of one’s daily activities. Remember that you get to highly engage your arms, shoulders, and neck while doing a plank. Your arms and shoulders are extensively involved in supporting your body weight.
Doing these gives these body parts a great work out. More so than this, it also increases their strength, which helps you to perform better in your daily activities, especially in those involving lifting.
Doing planks every day can also rev up your metabolism. That said, it does not rank high in the list of metabolism-boosting exercises. You are advised to incorporate exercises such as burpees and mountain climbers for a much more enhanced metabolism.
Despite this, there is no denying that this exercise can slightly improve your metabolism. If you want to enhance your metabolism without changing your exercise program, Medical News Today suggests you pay close attention to your diet (7).
For one, start by eating small meals and at regular times. Your body relies on regularity and balance (7). What this means is that when you eat at standard timelines, your body can maintain a metabolic balance. Secondly, focus on getting enough calories. Skipping meals will not make your body quickly shed fat around your abdominal region.
What it does is it negatively impacts your metabolism because fewer calories make your body’s metabolism slow down (7). You can also further boost your metabolism by drinking enough water. Water is essential for optimal metabolism (7).
Incorporating planks into your daily routine can also help improve your posture. Many of us are battling poor postures because of the nature of our jobs. We spend most of our time behind the desk, affecting how we position our back, shoulders, and neck.
In most cases, many of us end up arching our back and having our shoulders in front. You might have been told once or twice to pull your shoulders back and straighten your back. This poor posture happens when you spend most of your time sitting.
Doing planks can help you develop better posture. Although you are doing this exercise in a horizontal position, remember that it is working the same muscles as when you are standing. It is explicitly working your back muscles and helping them stay straight. This is done by engaging your glutes and lumbar spinae, which prevent any back arch.
Constantly doing this exercise helps you always to maintain your back straight. As humans are creatures of habit, you will find that you will tend to keep this back posture throughout the day, even when you are not exercising.
How To Do A Standard Plank?
Before delving into doing planks every day, you must first start by understanding how to plank correctly. There are numerous variations of the plank. That said, beginners are advised to start with the basic or standard plank. Some people may refer to it as the traditional or regular plank. Regardless of how you call it, the process of correctly doing a plank is as follows (11):
- Start by placing your elbows and lower arm on the floor. Make sure they align with your shoulders and remain firmly pressed on the ground throughout.
- Stretch your legs backwards and rest on the balls of your feet. Do not bend or lock your knees. Again, make sure that your feet are close together.
- Slowly lift your body off the floor and make sure that your body forms a straight line from head to toe.
- Keep your back straight and flex your toes to support your body.
- Breathe in and out normally and hold this position for twenty or thirty seconds.
- Slowly lower to the floor and rest for a minute.
- Repeat three to five times.
This move appears pretty easy to do but is, in the real sense, pretty challenging. The possibilities of injuring yourself are pretty high, especially if you do not learn the correct form. Work with an instructor first before deciding to take on this plank challenge. Once you master the technique, you can do planks daily or even try more challenging variations.
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Tips To Help You Reap The Most From Doing Planks Every Day
As seen from the results of planking every day, there are numerous benefits you can reap from doing this exercise. However, some people can do this exercise every day yet still not see results. Even more so, they may end up reporting injuries. Here are some tips to help you avoid such injuries but instead reap the named benefits:
Maintaining The Correct Form
If you are looking to get a six-pack, get rid of love handles and reduce the risk of several diseases using this exercise, you must learn the correct technique. Most people make the mistake of wrongly placing their arms and arching their back when planking.
Wrongly arching your back can lead to back pain. The correct form is placing your arms directly underneath your shoulders. Make sure that the two align (11). When it comes to your back, make sure that you keep it straight throughout the movement.
Starting With The Regular Plank
If you are looking to reap the results from doing planks every day, start with the basic plank. This is particularly if you have never done a plank exercise before. Do not start with complicated plank variations such as the side plank knee to elbow crunch, side plank rotations, or the bent-knee side plank.
Although they are very effective and rewarding, they are not suitable for beginners. These are advanced exercises that better suit individuals in the advanced fitness level. Start by familiarizing yourself with the regular plank, and there after, try out other plank variations as recommended by your instructor.
Maintaining A Healthy Lifestyle
So much goes into play into getting a six-pack or reducing love handles besides doing planks every day. Nutrition is one of them. So, as much as you are breaking a leg planking, remember also to pay attention to your lifestyle.
You will hardly lose muffin tops or belly fat if you continue drinking alcohol excessively or eating junk or processed foods. Such behaviors only compromise your efforts of losing such fat when you are doing planks. With that in mind, also work on changing your lifestyle for the better. Try to limit your alcohol consumption, eat mindfully and healthy, and get good rest (4). Such behaviors can shorten your road to losing both love handles and belly fat.
Warming Up And Cooling Down
Even if you are only doing planks, remember to warm up before performing this exercise and cooling down afterwards. Most people who are doing one single exercise tend to ignore warming up. It would help if you warmed up to loosen tight muscles and prepared them for the upcoming activity.
Your warm-up routine does not necessarily have to be extended. Instead, it only has to be effective. A short and effective warm-up routine stokes your blood flow and prepares your body for the plank exercise program (12).
You will find that your muscles quickly respond to the workout because they are loose and warm. Warm-up to avoid injuries that may result from forcing tight muscles to exercise. You can seek the help of a professional to help you craft a meaningful warm-up routine lasting between 5 to 10 minutes (12).
Remember also to cool down after you are done with your planks. It helps prevent the sudden reduction or drop of both your heart rate and blood pressure (12). For this routine, you need to incorporate exercises that allow you to stretch and relax. Do not add on vigorous activities as these will only increase your heart rate, further telling your body it is continuing with the exercise routine.
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 for decision-making. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 6 Tips for Flat Abs (2007, webmd.com)
- Belly fat in women: Taking-and keeping-it off (2019, mayoclinic.org)
- Effects of 8-week core training on core endurance and running economy (2019, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Four Lifestyle Factors Tied To Longer, Healthier Life (2011, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Health impacts of Obesity (2019, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Healthy Weight (2021, cdc.gov)
- How to increase your metabolism (2018, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Slide show: Exercises to improve your core strength (2020, mayoclinic.org)
- Striving for Six-Pack Abs (2007, webmd.com)
- The 8 best core exercises for gym and home training from beginner to advanced (2021, medicalnewstoday.com)
- What are the best exercises for overall health and fitness? (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Why Warm-Ups and Cool-Downs Are Key (2014, webmd.com)