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Do Planks Burn Belly Fat?
According to Science

Last updated: August 4, 2021

Plank exercise is an excellent strength workout because it engages multiple muscles at once and strengthens your whole body – your core, shoulders, and legs, too.

But does planking burn belly fat and help shed some pounds?

I spent hours researching journals and reliable articles to know whether planking helps lose fat. Here’s everything to know.

Planks Don’t Burn Belly Fat, And Here’s Why

asian man in a plank position on a yoga mat

There are many great reasons to incorporate plank exercise into your workout routine. Planks increase muscle strength, improve your posture, and strengthen your bones.

However, planks alone could not help you achieve the weight loss goals you’re aiming for, and they are not the best option for getting rid of belly fat.

Plank is a form of strength exercise.

Strength exercises help build strength; specifically, planks build core strength, but strength workouts don’t burn many calories compared to other exercises such as cardio workouts.

But it does not mean planking could not aid in weight loss because it still does help burn calories.

Another reason why you could plank until you collapse but still have belly fat is because spot-losing fat exercises or spot-reduction exercises don’t work.

It means exercising a specific spot to tone and trim that part is not how fat loss works.

To lose fat in the belly area, you need to lose overall body fat. So, how does overall body fat loss happen?

By burning more calories than your calorie intake or creating a calorie deficit. When there's a calorie deficit, your body will start to break down stored fat for energy

What Planks Do & The Calories They Burn

woman flexing her ab muscles

Having a strong core helps stabilize your whole body, which allows you to move efficiently and effectively and to function properly, whether in your gym performance or day-to-day tasks. And that’s what planks do.

Plank exercises improve your core strength, posture, and stability because it works your core muscles, such as the rectus abdominis (six-pack muscles) and transversus abdominis muscle (deepest abs muscles).

It also engages the upper body muscles, back muscles, leg muscles, and even the glutes.

So, if you’re looking for an entire body exercise, planks can do the work.

But not only that, planks can also tone and shape the muscles in the abdomen area, so you can have ripped abs once the belly fat dissolves.

How many calories do planks burn?

Planking could burn two and five calories per minute; however, it still depends on a person’s body weight, metabolic rate, and other factors. Other challenging variations of planking could burn more calories.

Related Articles:

What Loses Belly Fat?

woman doing planks with a trainer

If you want to speed up your weight loss progress, here are some of the calorie-burning exercises and healthy diet tips for you.

Do planks correctly for strengthening the core muscles

Though plank burns fewer calories than cardio exercises and plank alone cannot burn belly fat, it's still beneficial.  Here are some tips when doing plank:

  1. Try to perform at least three sets of 60 seconds basic plank. If you’re a beginner, start with a short set until you develop endurance and work up to 60 seconds.
  2. Do plank correctly to reap the best results of the exercise. When you do a plank, make sure your body is in the proper form – in a straight line from head to toe.

“If you can’t hold a plank for 10 seconds, there might be a back issue or a weak core problem. Holding a plank for one minute or so shows you have a strong core.  – Bryan O’Conner, Personal trainer of Candiac, Que.

Include Aerobic Exercises

leg view of a woman doing running exercises

Cardio exercise or aerobic exercise is said to be an effective workout to increase weight loss quickly. Cardio exercises increase heart rate, boost metabolism, and improve endurance – these factors increase your caloric burn so that you can lose weight.

Here are aerobic exercises you may try:

  • Walking or hiking
  • Cycling
  • Jogging or running
  • Swimming
  • Rowing

Start Strength Training

While cardio workouts make your heart work harder to increase calorie burn, strength training or resistance training gives an extra boost to your weight loss goals.

Resistance training or strength training exercises can be done through bodyweight, resistance bands or machines, dumbbells, or free weights.

Strength exercises build muscle mass and size, which is said to increase calories burned.

Weight lifting, a strength exercise, also helps with dropping off pounds because of its afterburn effect or Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). This effect causes your body to burn more calories even after you stop working out.

Some of the excellent strength training exercises for losing weight include: 

  • Circuit Training
  • Squat
  • Push-ups
  • Dumbbell Row
  • Bench Step Ups
  • Lunge
  • Incline Dumbbell Press

Try HIIT Exercises

leg view of a man using a bicycle outdoors

If you aim to burn body fat and build lean muscle mass, high-intensity interval training should be on your list.

High-intensity interval training refers to workouts that alternate between quick and intense bursts of cardio exercises and less-intense exercises or short rest periods.

It's as simple as pedaling a bike as fast as you can for 30 seconds, followed by 30 seconds of slow and easy cycling.

You typically need to complete 4-6 rounds of the workout.

HIIT is also a great choice if you have a tight schedule and you want to drop off pounds as quickly as possible.

One study showed that people trained in high-intensity interval training three times a week for 12 weeks at 20 minutes each session lost an average of 4.4 pounds and showed a significant decrease in their waistline [1].

Maintain A Healthy Diet

Having an exercise regimen helps shed off pounds, yet it is often said that weight loss consists of a 75% diet. Some of the ways you can try to reduce your calorie intake are:

  • Eating more lean protein and soluble fiber,
  • Cutting back refined carbs and processed foods,
  • Consuming more low-carb green vegetables,
  • Consuming healthy fats, and
  • Increasing your water intake.

FAQs

Is a 1-Minute Plank Good?

Holding a plank position for a minute is already enough and can already give you excellent results. As experts say, planking for more than a minute is not recommended because there are no added benefits.

What Happens If You Do a Plank for 30 Days?

Doing a plank for 30 days could correct your posture, decrease back pain, and improve your balance and stability.

Are Planks Cardio or Strength?

Plank workout is a strength exercise; it helps strengthen your core, shoulders, chest, back, and legs. But other plank variations, such as moving plank, can get your heart rate up, so you are sneaking in some cardio exercise into your core-strength workout.

Do Planks Burn Fat? The Verdict

Though plank alone cannot magically lose belly fat, it still has great benefits which could help increase weight loss.

Planks exercise different muscle groups, strengthen your whole body, stabilize the spine, and tone your abs.

If it's your goal to burn body fat quickly, you may also try HIIT workout, cardio exercises, and strength training and combine it with maintaining a healthy and balanced meal.

Have you challenged yourself with a plank? Share your thoughts with us.


References:

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22720138

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