The negative news is that the plank pose is one of the more challenging exercises you can add to your workout regimen, but on the plus side, you'll burn calories while performing this tricky exercise. Planks are ideal to add to any workout, whether you stay in shape at the gym or follow a home-based regimen. In just a few seconds, you'll feel enough of a burn to know the plank is working.
To perform a standard plank, also known as a front plank, begin by lying on the floor on your front. Place your forearms and elbows on the floor, directly below your shoulders, and lift your body up so your weight is distributed between your feet and your forearms. Contract your abdominal muscles to keep your body straight; your body should be perfectly straight from your heels to your head.
Your body constantly burns calories at a slow rate regardless of your level of activity, but when you perform a challenging exercise such as the plank, you burn calories at a faster rate. A person who weighs 150 pounds will burn 221 calories in an hour of performing a plank, according to FitClick. Given that you're unlikely to perform planks for an hour, consider the calories you'll burn in a shorter duration. If you weigh 150 pounds, a plank will help you burn between three and four calories per minute.
As is the case with a set of crunches, planks are an effective exercise to target your abdominal muscles. Although this exercise targets only your abs, it requires the contraction of a number of other muscle groups as you hold the position, including your obliques, hip flexors, quadriceps, pectorals and smaller muscle groups in your legs. Planks are effective way to increase your core strength.
Exercising is a common way to burn calories to help you lose fat, but despite the benefits of planks, they're not the most effective way of reducing the amount of fat you carry. To burn a pound of fat, you need to burn roughly 3,500 calories more than what you consume. Given the relatively low number of calories you burn during planks, you're better suited to perform an exercise such as jogging or dancing to burn fat.
Toronto-based journalist William McCoy has been writing since 1997, specializing in topics such as sports, nutrition and health. He serves as the Studio's sports and recreation section expert. McCoy is a journalism graduate of Ryerson University.