The Ultimate Guide to Planking for Weight Loss

Planking for weight loss

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Have you ever wondered how a seemingly simple exercise like planking could be a game-changer in your weight loss journey? You’re not alone. Many people underestimate the power of planking and its numerous benefits, especially when it comes to shedding those extra pounds. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive deep into the mechanics of planking, its benefits, and how it can be an integral part of your weight loss regimen.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes


What is Planking?

Planking is an isometric exercise that challenges your entire body, focusing specifically on your core strength. Unlike dynamic exercises that involve a range of motion, isometric exercises like planking require you to maintain a single, static position for a specific duration. The basic plank position resembles a push-up, but rather than moving up and down, you hold yourself in a “plank” by engaging your muscles.

According to a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, planking activates up to 100% of your rectus abdominis and 95% of your external oblique muscles, making it one of the most effective core exercises.

The Science Behind Planking and Weight Loss

Before diving into the details, it’s essential to understand why planking is effective for weight loss. The exercise engages multiple muscle groups simultaneously, requiring more energy and thus burning more calories. It also helps build lean muscle mass, which boosts your metabolism, aiding in sustained weight loss.

Key Benefits of Planking

  • Improved Core Strength

One of the most obvious benefits of planking is the development of a strong core. A robust core is vital for overall functionality and reduces the risk of back injuries.

  • Enhanced Metabolic Rate

As planking involves various muscle groups, it elevates your metabolic rate, helping you burn calories even when you’re at rest.

  • Better Posture

Planking helps in maintaining a straight body posture by building isometric strength.

  • Reduced Belly Fat

The targeted engagement of the core helps to burn the belly fat more effectively than traditional sit-ups and crunches.

How to Incorporate Planking into Your Weight Loss Routine

  • Beginner’s Stage

If you’re new to planking, start with a 20-30 second hold, gradually increasing as you build strength. Aim for at least 3 sets.

  • Intermediate Level

Once you’re comfortable with the basics, try holding the plank for up to a minute and perform 3-5 sets.

  • Advanced Level

For those who have mastered the art, aim for 2-minute planks and experiment with variations like side planks or forearm planks.

Tips for Effective Planking

  1. Proper Form: Ensure your body is in a straight line from head to heels.
  2. Breathing: Don’t hold your breath. Inhale and exhale smoothly.
  3. Frequency: Consistency is key. Make it a part of your daily routine.
  4. Variety: To avoid hitting a plateau, include various plank modifications.

A study published in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation states that core strengthening exercises like planking can reduce the risk of back injuries by up to 45%.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  1. Sagging Hips: This can put undue stress on your lower back.
  2. High Hips: This reduces the engagement of the core muscles.
  3. Looking Up or Down: Maintain a neutral neck to avoid strain.

How Many Calories Can You Burn By Planking?

One of the frequently asked questions about planking is its effectiveness in burning calories. While planking is primarily known for its muscle-strengthening benefits, it also has a reasonable calorie-burning potential, especially when performed correctly and consistently.

Caloric Burn Rates

The number of calories burned while planking varies depending on various factors such as your body weight, metabolism, and the intensity of the exercise. On average, planking burns approximately 2 to 5 calories per minute. This means that if you were to hold a plank for a minute, you could potentially burn up to 5 calories, and doing several sets would naturally increase the total calorie burn.

Factors That Affect Caloric Burn

  1. Body Weight: Individuals with higher body weights tend to burn more calories during any form of exercise, including planking.
  2. Intensity: The harder you work while holding the plank—by tightening your core, glutes, and maintaining a straight posture—the more calories you’re likely to burn.
  3. Duration: The longer you can hold the plank position, the higher your calorie burn will be.
  4. Variations: Introducing variations like side planks, forearm planks, or adding leg lifts can also slightly increase the calorie-burning potential.

Incorporating Planking for Maximum Caloric Burn

For maximum calorie burn, consider integrating planks into a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout. Alternating between dynamic exercises like jumping jacks or burpees and isometric holds like planking can significantly ramp up your metabolic rate and calorie-burning capability.


While planking does offer some caloric burn, relying solely on it for significant weight loss might not yield the desired results. It’s most effective when combined with a balanced diet and a comprehensive exercise regimen that includes both cardiovascular and strength-training exercises.


Planking is an incredibly efficient, versatile, and straightforward exercise that can significantly boost your weight loss efforts. With its ability to engage multiple muscle groups, improve metabolism, and burn calories, it’s a must-include exercise in your fitness regime. By following the right techniques and incorporating it systematically, you can witness notable improvements not just in your weight, but overall health and well-being.

According to the Guinness World Records, the longest time in an abdominal plank position is 8 hours, 15 minutes, and 15 seconds, set by George Hood in 2020.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How Effective is Planking for Weight Loss?

Planking is highly effective for weight loss as it engages multiple muscle groups, boosts metabolism, and helps build lean muscle mass. Incorporating planking into your regular exercise routine can significantly contribute to your weight loss goals.

What Muscle Groups Does Planking Target?

Planking primarily targets the core muscles, but it also works on your shoulders, arms, and glutes. This full-body engagement makes it a calorie-burning powerhouse that aids in weight loss.

How Long Should I Hold a Plank for Weight Loss?

The duration for holding a plank can vary depending on your fitness level. Beginners should aim for 20-30 seconds, intermediate-level individuals can aim for 60 seconds, and advanced practitioners can go for 2 minutes or more. The key is to start slow and gradually increase the time as you build strength.

Can Planking Alone Help Me Lose Weight?

While planking does burn calories and build muscle, relying solely on it for weight loss is not advisable. For optimal results, combine planking with a balanced diet and a diverse exercise routine that includes cardiovascular activities.

Are There Any Risks Involved in Planking?

Planking is generally a safe exercise when done correctly. However, improper form can lead to lower back strain or injuries. Always consult with a healthcare provider before starting a new exercise regimen, especially if you have existing health conditions.

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