Updated: 5 days ago
Are you looking to build strength, feel toned and even lose weight? If so, then planking should be at the top of your list of exercises to incorporate into your DAILY routine.
As a fitness and yoga instructor, planking is my secret weapon. I added it into EVERY SINGLE class because I have seen the benefits of planking in myself and many clients as well!
Planking is easy to do, with modifications for every level, and you can do it just about anywhere. You don't need any equipment to plank or special clothes. All you need is a flat and stable surface to start where the length and width of your body can fit, like a floor.
Oh, and it's free, too!
As I mentioned, there are many variations of planks for all levels, so some plank variations call for unstable surfaces like a ball or a bosu to increase the intensity. If you are a beginner, I recommend starting with a basic plank before moving on to more advanced variations.
While it might not seem like much, regular practice of this exercise can have significant benefits for your body. And if that wasn't enough motivation already: planking also burns calories!
Table of Contents:
What Is A Plank?
A plank is a core-strengthening exercise that involves your entire body. It's an isometric exercise, meaning exercises that involve the contraction of muscles without any movement in the surrounding joints 1.
If you're new to working with your core muscles, planking is a great place to start. You can plank without any equipment, and because it is an isometric movement, the risk of injury is lower!
How To Do A Plank?
Planking is a static exercise. The basic form is to keep your back and your body in a straight line and slightly puff up in between your shoulder blades. Keep your hands or elbow directly under your shoulders, and place them on the floor shoulder-width apart.
Your feet or knees can be close together (or up to 12 inches apart as a modification). Hold your proper plank form for anywhere from 10 seconds to 2 minutes. Once your form starts to compromise, rest for at least 30 seconds before doing another plank.
This is the basic form; the exercise has many variations. And you can make it more difficult by adding weights, changing from knees to toes, adding in movement, or even doing a plank with one leg lifted.
Here are four easy plank exercise positions or variations you can try to get started:
How Many Calories Does Planking Burn?
Planking, like all exercise, burns calories. And the calorie burn depends on your weight, metabolism, and body type.
In general, you can burn up to 2 to 5 calories per minute of planking . The total amount of calories burned also depends on your plank variation, your body weight, and your rest metabolic rate.
What Muscles Do Planks Work?
According to Physiopedia, planking targets your core muscles such as:
It is the innermost abdominal muscle and is well-known as the “corset” because it wraps around your torso like a belt. It connects your spine to the pelvis and helps stabilize your lower back.
Rectus abdominis is the most commonly known abdominal muscle and makes up the “six-pack” many people strive to have. It runs vertically down at the front of your body and helps with flexing your hips, spine, and shoulders.
Internal and External Oblique
The internal oblique muscle runs along the side of your torso, from your lower ribs to your pelvis. It helps with lateral flexion and rotation of the spine as well as stabilization. External oblique has a similar function and location as internal obliques but is on the opposite side of your body.
When you try to twist your body to the side, the internal oblique rotates to the same side, while the external oblique rotates to the opposite side .
Latissimus Dorsi or Lats,
Gluteus Maximus or Glutes ,
Pectorals, and more.
How Long Should You Hold A Plank?
Harvard Health recommends holding the plank position for 10-30 seconds. Instead of holding the plank for long periods of time, it’s better to do a series of shorter planks. That way, you can maximize your calorie burn without overstressing your body.
You can work your way up to holding a plank for 60 seconds and beyond as long as you keep good form. The current world record for the longest time spent holding a plank is 9 hours and 30 minutes .
Can you imagine holding the same position for that long?😳
The key is to do what works for your body and goals!
Benefits of Planking
A plank is a bodyweight workout, and you can do it anywhere. It requires no equipment and takes only a few minutes to perform. This makes planks very convenient for busy people who have limited time on their hands.
A plank is a safe workout with many variations available for all activity levels, fitness levels, and injury levels. As long as you follow the proper form and you have clearance from your doctor, it is suitable for people of all ages, including children and seniors.
Improves your Posture
A plank is a great way to improve your posture. It works on your core, back, and shoulder muscles which help you maintain proper posture while standing or sitting. Moreover, planks strengthen your core and improve muscle tone in the abdominal area.
Helps with Back Pain
A plank is a great exercise for people who suffer from back pain. It stretches your upper and lower back muscles, which helps relieve stiffness and soreness in the area. As always, before starting any new routine, consult your doctor.
Improves your Mood
Any kind of physical activity is known to improve mood, and planking is no exception. It boosts endorphins in your body, which helps reduce stress and anxiety levels. This makes you feel happier, more relaxed, and less stressed out throughout the day.
Has Many Variations
There are many variations of planking to keep things interesting and challenging.
You can use weights, resistance bands, or even just your own body weight to vary the difficulty of your workouts. You can also change up the position of your arms and legs to target different areas of your core.
What to do next?
Planking is one of the most accessible exercises, and it's easy to do anywhere. If you are looking for an effective exercise to get in shape, try adding some planks into your routine.
Let me know how you liked this article and if you have any questions about planking!
As always, consult a doctor before starting any new physical activity.
About the Author
Alexa Hanshaw is a health and stress management coach who helps women be the CEO of their stress. She empowers her clients to push past the confusion of the health and wellness industry to create lifestyle habits that bring them energy and work with their bodies instead of against it.
Join her free Facebook group, Be the CEO of Your Stress and follow her on Instagram, Facebook, and Youtube for quick, easy & healthy tips on stress, health, fitness, nutrition, sleep, and how to stay mindful!