Planks For Beginners – Ultimate Fat Burner Guide

The days of performing endless crunches are over. Not only are these exercises ineffective, but they can cause damage to your spinal column. There is a safer and more effective exercise you can do to strengthen your core – the plank exercise.

The plank is an isometric exercise that helps build endurance in your entire core – rectus abdominus, obliques, lower back, and stabilizing muscles. It is a powerful but simple exercise that you can do at home.

Before we dive into the different plank variations, let’s discuss some of the benefits.

Four Planking Benefits

#1: Builds Core Strength

Most people are more interested in working out their arms or building big pecs than developing a strong core. Having a strong core helps prevent injury, improve athletic performance, and lay the foundation for shaping your body in other training areas.

#2: Improves Balance And Coordination

As you get older balance and coordination become more important. We will go over a few different plank workouts later in this post that’ll specifically challenge you in these areas.

#3: Goodbye Hunchback

Planking is an excellent way to quickly improve bad posture. If you have a desk job just doing a minute or two of planks each day can significantly strengthen your lower back and will indirectly correct your posture at the same time.

#4: Improves Overall Health And Wellbeing

Most exercises help release endorphins that help enhance our mood and energy levels. That being said, planks specifically engage the stress corners of the body. Throughout the day it’s easy for our back, neck, and shoulders to tighten up. When these muscle groups are contracted it’ll squeeze the tension out of these muscle groups where a lot of stress is stored. If you’re battling anxiety or depression, doing some type of plank workout each day could have a significant impact on your mental health. Make sure to consult with your doctor if you’re experiencing any mental health issues.

How Many Planks Should a Beginner Do?

This answer will vary from person to person. If you’re a beginner we suggest starting out with 1 set of 60-90 seconds per day for your first week. During the second week add another set for a total of two sets of planks for a total of 60-90 seconds each. Increase your sets each that’ll fit your schedule.

I personally like doing 5 minutes of planks minimum per day.

How Many Calories Does a Plank Burn?

On average, you can expect to burn 3-5 calories per minute. These numbers can increase depending on your body weight. Due to their ability to increase metabolism, caloric burn can last several days when done consistently.

What Are Some Variations to The Plank Exercise?

Forearm Plank

Follow the directions below and use the image as a reference to learn how to do a proper plank exercise.

1. Lie face down on a matt.
2. Raise up onto your toes and rest on your elbows.
3. Keep your back flat, keeping your body in a straight line from head to heels.
4. Contract your abs to ensure your body doesn’t drop.
5. Hold the position for a designated time.

One thing that will help you perform this exercise is if you pull your belly button towards your spine. This will help you engage the deep abdominal muscles that help support your back.

If you’ve never performed a plank, you might be wondering how balancing on your toes and elbows is supposed to work your core. Good question. As you balance, gravity will pull your midsection towards the ground and your lower back will have the tendency to sag. To prevent this, you need to contract your abdominal muscles to keep your body properly aligned.

You will notice your body starting to shake after holding the plank position for a few seconds. This indicates a lack of strength and stabilization in your abdominal region.

As you continue practicing the plank exercise, you will notice a drastic improvement in your core strength and coordination. You will be able to hold the position for much longer before starting to shake.

Modified Plank On Knees

If you’re having trouble initially holding the plank position, try the modified plank exercise. Everything is the same except that instead of balancing on your toes you will balance on your knees. This is a simple variation and is a great starting point if you lack abdominal strength. Remember that it’s not about where you start, but where you end up.

Side Plank

This variation of the plank exercise targets your obliques. Keep your body aligned and stable while you balance on one forearm and the side of your lower foot. Keep your other hand straight in the air or resting on your hip. Repeat the same for the other side.

Plank Arm And Leg Lift

This is a slightly more difficult variation of the regular plank. As you hold the plank, extend one arm out in front of you (so you’re balancing on your toes and one forearm) and hold this position for 3 seconds keeping your core tight. Bring your arm back slowly to its original position and repeat with the other arm.

You can perform the same variation with your legs. Extend one leg fully (so you are only balancing on your forearms and one toe) and hold this position for 3 seconds. Bring your leg back and repeat with the other leg.

You can combine these two variations to make the plank really difficult. Extend opposite arm and leg and hold for 3 seconds. For instance, extend your left leg and right arm and hold while keeping your core tight. Repeat the exercise by extending the right leg and left arm.

Plank Jacks

This exercise will likely make you want to scream your first time doing it. Plank Jacks mix the core-strengthening power of traditional planks with a sprinkle of ass-kicking cardio.

  • Start in a traditional plank position.
  • Using the same motion of a jumping jack, jump your legs out wide, and then bring them back together. If you’re a beginner start slow, and increase your speed as you progress.
  • We suggest doing 3 sets of 50 at a pace that challenges you.

Plank Rotations

This is another exercise that’ll challenge your will. Start by placing yourself in a traditional high plank position. Reach one of your elbows up to the sky and gently twist your upper body back, and look in the same direction as your arm that’s lifted in the sky. Hold for 3 seconds, and slowly return to repat the movement on the other side. This completes 1 full repetition!

We suggest doing 3 sets of 25.

Don’t rush through plank rotations. Rotating planks involve twisting your back, so be gentle with yourself.

Stability Ball Plank

Certain pieces of exercise equipment make stabilization more difficult. The idea is to perform the regular plank exercise but with your toes or forearms on a Bosu ball or swiss ball. This is a more advanced variation so progress to these once you’ve mastered the regular planks and easier variations.

Planks Vs Situps: Which is More Effective?

Planks are by far the most effective core-building exercises out there. Start including it in your workouts immediately and get rid of those spine-damaging crunches.

Situps / Crunches cause lower spine compression which causes a lot of stress on the spine. While planks brace it. If you already have back problems, then situps are probably out of the question for you. I know a lot of yoga instructors and chiropractors are against doing situps for that very reason.

Start slowly and don’t get discouraged if you can’t hold the plank for long periods. Keep working and try different variations. You’ll start building abdominal strength before you know it.

BONUS ROUTINE: If you want to give your core and arms a bonus push, I put together an article covering a Perfect Pushup Workout. These routines complement each other nicely and should take a combined 20-30 minutes to complete (completely customizable).

Comment below and let me know your thoughts and experiences with these incredible core workouts.

Leave a Comment