Getting in a good workout does not always require a gym. Find out what benefits you can get from doing the plank exercise.
Something important to note first is that planks are often not the most effective core exercise out there. Their main benefit is that they allow you to work your abs without bending your spine.
Bending your spine is not necessarily bad but some people find this uncomfortable for now. As you get stronger by doing planks, you can consider some of the more effective core exercises again.
1. Planks could grow certain muscles
As you can tell by giving this exercise a try, planks can be challenging for your muscles. More specifically, the main muscles you work with planks include the:
- Rectus abdominis aka abs
- Hip flexors (front hips)
- Quadriceps (front thighs)
and to a lesser extent:
- Latissimus dorsi
Something important to keep in mind is that just doing a few seconds of planks every once in a while will likely not be enough to get the results you desire.
How many planks you should do a day depends on your training goals.
To build muscle you want to do planks of 3 to 30 seconds per set and more than 80 to 150 seconds per workout with a resistance that is challenging enough (1).
For many people, that will mean doing one of the types of weighted planks.
It is worth mentioning again that more dynamic ab exercises like crunches tend to be more effective than planks for building muscle.
At the same time, planks can still help you get bigger abs if you do them the right way.
2. Planks can be more comfortable than dynamic core exercises
Planks are an isometric exercise which means they work your muscles in a static way. They do not shorten or lengthen during the exercise.
One of the main benefits of isometric exercise is that they don’t require any joint moving.
Some people find more dynamic plank alternatives like crunches uncomfortable on their spine.
If that applies to you, you can start strengthening your body with planks first.
3. Planks may reduce back pain
Pains and aches are common complaints for many people. Luckily, there are often ways to reduce to what extent these are present.
For example, one review of studies concluded that core muscle exercises like planks can help reduce lower back pain (2).
One specific study with 120 participants that were experiencing lower back pain observed that a core muscle stabilization exercise program offer more reduction in that area than a routine physical therapy exercise for a similar duration (3).
4. Planks could improve your mood slightly
While planks won’t offer the biggest benefits in this area, they can improve your mood slightly similar to many other forms of exercise.
Planks are not the most intense so this will likely only happen to a small extent.
Besides that, resolving or preventing any back pain issues definitely has the potential to improve your mood for the better.
5. Planks can improve muscle endurance
As mentioned, doing planks will not always grow the main muscles you target. If you don’t use enough extra resistance the movement will not be hard enough for this.
On the flip side, growing your core muscles is not the only benefit you can get from resistance training exercises.
More specifically, even if they don’t grow your abs, planks can still improve muscle endurance in this area.
Since your abs help you keep your upper body upright while standing up, this benefit can be useful.
6. Planks may help you lose a tiny amount of weight
This next benefit is another example of something you should not expect crazy results from planks in. However, theoretically, planks help weight loss to a tiny extent.
The reason why this is only to a tiny extent is that the number of calories burned with planks is very small.
A 185-pound (84 kg) person doing a 5-minute plank will only burn around 20 calories and this includes the energy they would normally burn.
So planks can help reduce belly fat and fat from other areas to a tiny extent but you really want to do other workouts and make other lifestyle changes if you are serious about this goal.
7. You can do planks almost anywhere
For some workouts, you need a certain surface or certain equipment options that are not home-friendly.
This requires you to spend precious time going to a specific location.
One of the benefits of planks is that you don’t have to worry about this at all. You can do them basically anywhere. At least in a way that focuses on improving muscle endurance.
8. Budget-friendly workout
Even if other exercises involve somewhat more at-home-friendly workout equipment, you typically still have to invest some money into these tools.
Spending money on your health can be a great decision but there are also often ways to get some health benefits with a small budget.
Planks alone will not be enough to consider your workout plan to be effective but they are a budget-friendly way to get some positive effects.
Even if you do need weighted planks to see the results you want, you could successfully use a backpack filled with heavy objects.
9. Planks are relatively easy in terms of technique
Certain types of workouts and exercises are challenging in terms of technique.
This either increases how much time you need to spend before getting all the benefits or increases your injury risk since you are doing the movements suboptimally.
On the other hand, planks are relatively straightforward in terms of technique.
You do still want to pay attention to not lowering your hips too much and not letting your shoulders hang down too much. That being said, these are not the most complicated things in the world.