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FEB 12, 2024

The Ultimate Plank Exercise Guide to Blast Belly Fat Fast


Get a toned core with our ultimate plank exercise guide! Say goodbye to belly fat and hello to a stronger, slimmer you.

Read time: 6 minutes

Shedding stubborn belly fat is no easy feat. But what if I told you that the secret to a toned tummy could be as straightforward as the humble plank? That’s right, the fairly unassuming plant packs an impressive punch when it comes to fat-blasting and core-strengthening results.

This is because plank exercises are effective for engaging your core muscles and can contribute to reducing belly fat. This is achieved by activating multiple muscle groups, including the abdominals, obliques, and lower back, which helps strengthen and tone these areas. Additionally, planks increase overall calorie burn and promote a healthy metabolic rate. And to maximize the benefits, we recommend you include planks as part of a well-rounded fitness routine that combines cardiovascular exercise, strength training, and a balanced diet.

Perfecting Your Plank Form

Planking is a really popular exercise, largely because it’s simple and effective - especially in strengthening core muscles. That said, many of us are doing it wrong. And, as such, perfecting a plank form can make all the difference in truly maximizing its benefits.

  • First and foremost, find a mat or soft surface to protect your elbows and knees from hard surfaces.

  • Next, place your hands shoulder-width apart with your fingers spread out. Elevate yourself onto a high-plank position with your toes tucked under while engaging your core muscles and glutes, keeping your neck and spine aligned.

  • Remember that planks are low-impact exercises, so there shouldn't be any movement. Unless you’ve gone for so long that you’ve started to involuntarily shake.

  • Avoid arching your back or sagging the hips, as this reduces muscle engagement of the obliques and transversus abdominis.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

To get the most out of plank exercises, avoid common mistakes that throw your optimum core engagement off.

MISTAKE

DESCRIPTION

Hands positioning

Avoid positioning your hands too far apart or close together; place them in line with your shoulders to promote torso stability.

Breath-holding

Holding your breath while performing this exercise won’t work! Remember to breathe naturally, as it helps to oxygenate the body while reducing jitters and muscle fatigue.

Hips positioning

Dipping or sinking the hips causes quick fatigue within seconds of beginning this static exercise, while placing them too high up can create undue pressure on the lower back muscles.

Bad posture

While holding a position for a longer time, it is important to avoid common mistakes such as allowing the head to droop forward or lifting the hips too high toward the ceiling. Remember to maintain proper alignment from your head to your toes to get the most out of your workout.

 

Alignment for Optimum Engagement

The plank is a simple yet effective exercise that strengthens your entire body, and proper form and alignment are essential to fully engage the desired muscle groups.

  • In all planks, ensure your shoulders are over your wrists, your neck is in a neutral position, and your hips are level with your shoulders. Keep your glutes and abs tight by drawing your belly button towards your spine. Your elbows should be straight but not locked out to ensure maximum triceps engagement.

  • Remember to keep your gaze on the floor with shoulders relaxed away from your ears, ensuring proper spinal alignment to avoid neck strain or injury. This correct posture - often overlooked during workouts - is critical in maximizing engagement and reducing the risk of injury.

Top Plank Variations to Target Belly Fat

  1. Forearm Plank

The forearm plank is one of the more challenging variations of planks that specifically targets deep abdominal muscles responsible for sculpting flat bellies.

  • Start on your forearms and toes, keeping elbows directly under your shoulders, back straight, and head aligned with your spine while engaging your core.

  • Hold this position for 30 seconds (or longer if you're comfortable) while breathing deeply.

  1. High Plank Shoulder Tap

This variation targets abdominal muscles and adds an extra challenge for balance and coordination while maintaining core engagement, which speeds up belly fat loss.

  • Get into a high-plank position on hands and toes; tap each shoulder alternatingly with the opposite hand 'tap' while balancing on one arm; easier done at a slower pace but progressively faster over time.

  1. Side Plank

Side planks target obliques – the muscles that play an important role in rotation and provide support for other core muscles.

  • Start lying on one side, legs straight, while propping up the upper body with elbow below shoulders and forearm pressed to the ground.

  • Lift your hips, squeezing your glutes while keeping your head and spine neutral.

  1. Plank Up-Down

The plank up-down targets abs, shoulders, and arms, making it an excellent all-around strengthening exercise for the entire body.

  • Start in a high plank position on hands and toes; proceed to lower one forearm down at a time till fully on forearms 'down' position (with same arm order for 2nd,3rd round);

  • Then, return to a high plank position, two arms simultaneously for every repetition.

Plank variations are like tools in a toolbox - use each tool variation strategically and according to preference to target stubborn belly fat and get results over time.

Understanding the Impact of Plank Exercises

When it comes to developing a fit and toned body, it’s all about engaging your core muscles and boosting overall fitness levels.

  • Planks work by targeting multiple muscle groups simultaneously, including the abdominal wall, transverse abdominis, hips, and shoulders. This workout can be done almost anywhere - at home or in the gym - without equipment and takes minimal time to show results. With its emphasis on form over repetition, anyone can improve their posture and strengthen their core muscles with planks.

How Planks Lead to Weight Loss

Although most people know about plankings’ effectiveness in toning the abs and enhancing core stability, many may not realize how weight loss occurs when practicing this workout regularly.

  • The primary factor leading to weight loss during planking is its ability to increase muscle mass in various body parts. Since muscles burn more calories than fat cells, regular plank exercise individuals experience an accelerated base metabolic rate (BMR), resulting in more calories during exercise and at rest.

  • Additionally, planking workouts are considered cardio-resistance training, combining aerobic and resistance training. This unique combination increases the heart rate while challenging muscles throughout the body. Not only does it burn calories, but it also switches the body into a fat-burning mode.

  • With consistent effort and proper form, planks can help reduce belly fat significantly, making you look leaner in no time!

Building Endurance for Longer Planks

Building endurance is key to holding a plank longer. Holding positions for extended periods can be challenging, leading to loss of focus and incorrect execution. The key is to begin with shorter planks and work your way up gradually, gauging what works best for you.

  • If starting, begin with 10-15 second high plank holds or 5-10 second elbow plank holds, ensuring proper form.

  • Repeat the sets multiple times with breaks in between. Over time, increase the hold duration while decreasing the break times.

Week

Duration

Set Amount

1

15 sec

4 sets

2

20 sec

4 sets

3-4

30 sec

3 sets

5-6

40 sec

3 sets

7-8

60 sec

2 sets

 

  • Starting small and working up gradually can help us avoid injuries and build strength and endurance.

  • Another endurance-building approach includes incorporating dynamic planking movements into workouts, such as plank jacks or shoulder taps. Such movements can challenge muscles differently while burning calories efficiently, adding variety to your routine, and keeping motivation high.

These tips can help build your endurance for longer planks over time. But remember that consistency is key, and progress takes time. Keep practicing and listening to your body, making sure not to push too hard too soon. But other than that you’re all set to make a lasting difference!

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Written by Matthew Stogdon

Matt has been writing for two decades, across print and digital media. He is also an accomplished filmmaker, with several accolades under his belt.

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