Plank exercises are trashed by some as boring while praised by others as incredibly effective. This article will clarify the effectiveness of planking exercises in terms of muscle engagement and, most importantly, calorie burn. The plank may help you get a killer core and improve your posture, but is it the best choice for weight loss? The number of plank calories burned explains the weight loss utility of this widespread yet notoriously controversial exercise.
What Is Planking?
Planking is the foundation of many effective training plans. Once you’ve mastered planking, you can move on to exercises like push-ups and mountain climbers. Planking is one of the most effective core exercises.
Strong core muscles are essential to your body. These muscles are located in your midsection, and are used in almost any movement. You use your core muscles while shopping at the grocery store and even while simply maintaining proper posture. Strong core muscles are imperative for your training progress.
Planking targets the rectus abdominis and transversus abdominis, the muscles which support your back and spine, and, as a result, prevent back pain. Besides this, they are exactly the muscles that make up your perfect 6-pack (2).
In addition to your core muscles, planking also engages your neck, biceps, and shoulders. Here are some benefits of incorporating planking into your workout routine (2, 1).
Read More: Planks For Beginners: Put Your Core Strength To The Test
Benefits Of Planking
Reducing The Risk Of Injury
Planking is an exercise that strengthens your entire core while avoiding excessive strain on your spine and hips. Including planking in your workouts not only reduces back pain but also improves your back support. This reduces the risk of spinal and back injuries.
Planking has an absolutely amazing effect on your posture. Your day-to-day posture and alignment depend on the strength of your core, and, as you already know, planks are focused on core strength. Plus, planking engages glutes and hips, which contribute to better posture. This may not seem like a very important issue when you’re still young and don’t experience back and shoulder pains due to poor posture. Sooner or later though, they will make themselves felt, and planking helps to avoid this.
Many people don’t pay much attention to the shoulders, but they are extremely important for lifting and reaching overhead. Planking engages your shoulders, preventing impingements and shoulder pain.
Planking is an isometric exercise. An isometric exercise is an exercise in which your muscles only contract with no visible change or movement. These exercises increase your endurance rather than muscle strength (4). Despite being neglected sometimes, muscle endurance exercises are immensely important for stability. They are also crucial for activities that demand continuous involvement, for instance running or biking. To focus on your endurance, simply hold a plank for a longer period of time, from 15 seconds to a minute, and so on.
Planking Strengthens Your Glutes
Combined with hamstrings, calves, and back, glutes are the most powerful muscles in your body. Glutes support your back continuously and make routine physical movements possible. This muscle group, sometimes called the “posterior chain” —generates more force than any other human movement, whether you think about power cleans, deadlifts, box jumps, or just lifting a heavy suitcase off the floor (7). Glutes are very important for general balance and muscle strength.
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Planking Improves Your Flexibility
Flexibility is a degree of range of motion in your joints. Planking improves your flexibility since they stretch all posterior muscles – shoulder, shoulder blades, and collarbone. At the same time, they activate other muscles too – like hamstrings, toes, and arches of the feet.
Planking Engages Various Muscles
As you already know, planking activates multiple muscles at once. This is what makes them more effective than, say, crunches. Studies have proven that targeting just one muscle is not the best approach for the development of that muscle (8). Movements that engage different muscles at once work better for each of those muscles individually as well. Distributing the strain evenly across your body is crucial for any effective workout, and planking provides precisely that.
Now you know some of the benefits of planking for your body and overall health. Let’s consider how to plank and whether there are a significant number of plank calories burned for it to be considered a weight-loss boosting exercise.
How To Do A Plank (6)
- Lie face down with your forearms and toes located on the floor.
- Place your elbows exactly under your shoulders. Your forearms must be facing forward.
- Engage your core and lift yourself up while keeping your body straight and your torso rigid.
- Drive your elbows into the floor, and squeeze your quads, glutes, and core. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth without holding your breath.
- Hold this exact position for 10 to 30 seconds.
It is crucial to not sag your hips, arch your back or tilt your head up. If you’re not able to hold the position on your elbows yet, balance on your hands instead.
Read More: Modified Plank: Take Your Planking Game To A Whole New Level
How Many Calories Are Burned In A 1 Min Plank?
The number of plank calories burned per minute is not so huge. That is because plank exercises are largely focused on maintaining your strength rather than actively burning your calories. Overall, the number of plank exercise calories burned depends on your weight and the amount of time you hold the position. The more you weigh, the more calories you’ll burn. Generally, the number is the following: Typically, an individual weighing 150 pounds burns 3 calories a minute while holding in the plank position (5).
If you want to increase the difficulty of the exercise and the number of calories burned, here are some plank variations for your vigorous workout (3):
Plank Bird Dog
Begin in a plank position. Now, lift your right arm out in front of you, and extend your left leg behind you. Then, bend your elbow and knee, and bring them together to touch underneath your body, then extend back out. Continue for 30 seconds, then repeat on the opposite side of the body.
Plank Jack With Chest Tap
Begin in a plank position. Tap right hand to your left shoulder, then left hand to right shoulder. Now jump feet out wide and back in. Repeat the movement for 45 seconds.
To sum up, planking is an immensely effective exercise for multiple muscles, from core to toes. It has a number of important benefits, including better flexibility and endurance, better posture and reduction of injury risks. As to its calorie-boosting potential, it is not so impressive, since the classic version of the exercise does not involve a lot of movement. Nevertheless, it is perfectly possible to increase the calorie-burning potential of planking by incorporating plank variations into your workout routine.
Keep your fluid intake high, especially while training vigorously, and don’t forget to have some rest. This is precisely the time when your body grows muscle.
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!
- 5 Big Benefits of Planks — and How to Do One Perfectly (2020, livestrong.com)
- 7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day (n.d., lifehack.org)
- 30 Plank Variations That Will Transform Your Core (womenshealthmag.com)
- Are isometric exercises a good way to build strength? (2020, mayoclinic.org)
- How Many Calories Does Planking Burn? Get To Know It All (2017, medium.com)
- The 10 Best Moves to Lose Your Love Handles (n.d, menshealth.com)
- The 20 Best Glutes Exercises of All Time (n.d., mensjournal.com)
- The effect of abdominal exercise on abdominal fat. (2011, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)