How Many Calories Does a Plank Burn

how many calories does a plank burn

Are you tired of slogging away on a treadmill or elliptical machine, hoping to burn those extra calories? Well, it's time to switch up your exercise routine and try something new and effective – the plank! Not only does this exercise strengthen your core and improve your posture, but it also burns calories like a furnace. But how many calories does a plank burn? In this article, we dive deep into the world of planking and explore the calorie-burning potential of this simple yet powerful exercise. Whether you're a beginner or an advanced fitness enthusiast, you'll learn the science behind how the plank engages multiple muscle groups and ramps up your calorie burn. We'll also debunk common myths and misconceptions about the plank, so you can maximize your workout and achieve the desired results. So, grab your exercise mat, get ready to feel the burn, and let's discover just how many calories you can torch through the mighty plank!

What is a Plank Exercise?

The plank is a bodyweight exercise that primarily targets your core muscles, including the rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, and obliques. It is a static exercise, meaning you hold a position rather than performing dynamic movements. The basic plank position involves balancing on your forearms and toes, with your body in a straight line from head to toe. This exercise can be modified to suit different fitness levels by varying the duration, intensity, and variations of the plank.

The beauty of the plank lies in its simplicity. It requires no equipment and can be done anywhere, making it a convenient exercise option for those with busy schedules or limited access to a gym. Now, let's delve into the science behind how our bodies burn calories during exercise.

How Does the Body Burn Calories?

Calories are units of energy that our bodies use to fuel various physiological processes, including muscle contractions and cellular metabolism. When we exercise, our muscles require more energy to perform work. This increased demand for energy triggers a series of metabolic reactions that ultimately result in calorie burning.

The primary source of energy during exercise is glucose, which is stored in our muscles and liver as glycogen. As we engage in physical activity, our muscles break down glycogen into glucose, which is then used to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy currency of our cells. This process, known as glycolysis, releases energy in the form of ATP.

In addition to glucose, our bodies also utilize stored fat as an energy source during exercise. When we engage in activities that exceed our immediate glycogen stores, such as prolonged endurance exercises or high-intensity workouts, our bodies tap into fat reserves to provide the necessary energy. This is why exercises that burn more calories are often associated with fat loss.

Factors That Affect Calorie Burn During Exercise

The number of calories burned during exercise depends on various factors, including body weight, exercise intensity, duration, and individual metabolic rate. Let's take a closer look at each of these factors and how they influence calorie burn during the plank exercise.

1. Body Weight: Generally, the more you weigh, the more calories you burn during exercise. This is because larger bodies require more energy to perform the same movements compared to smaller bodies.

2. Exercise Intensity: The intensity of your workout plays a significant role in calorie burn. Higher intensity exercises, such as high-intensity interval training (HIIT) or plyometric movements, tend to burn more calories compared to low-intensity exercises.

3. Duration: The longer you perform an exercise, the more calories you'll burn. However, it's important to note that intensity and duration are inversely related. Higher intensity exercises can be performed for shorter durations, while lower intensity exercises may be sustained for longer periods.

4. Individual Metabolic Rate: Each person has a unique metabolic rate, which is influenced by factors such as genetics, age, muscle mass, and hormone levels. Individuals with a higher metabolic rate tend to burn more calories at rest and during exercise.

How many calories does a plank burn?

Now, let's address the burning question – does the plank exercise actually burn calories? The short answer is yes. Although the plank primarily targets the core muscles and is considered a low-impact exercise, it can still contribute to calorie burn.

The exact number of calories burned during a plank depends on various factors, including your body weight, exercise form, and the duration of the plank hold. On average, a person weighing around 150 pounds can expect to burn approximately 3-4 calories per minute during a plank. This estimation may vary for individuals with a higher or lower body weight.

While the calorie burn during a plank may not be as high as more intense exercises like running or cycling, the plank offers other significant benefits. It strengthens your core muscles, improves stability, enhances posture, and can be a valuable addition to your overall fitness routine.

Research on Calorie Burn During the Plank Exercise

Several studies have investigated the calorie-burning potential of the plank exercise. One study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that participants burned an average of 2.5 calories per minute during a plank. Another study published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science reported that individuals burned approximately 3 calories per minute during a plank.

While these numbers may seem modest compared to higher-intensity exercises, it's important to remember that the plank engages multiple muscle groups simultaneously, making it a highly efficient exercise for overall core strength and stability.

How to Maximize Calorie Burn During the Plank Exercise

If you're looking to maximize your calorie burn during the plank exercise, here are a few tips to consider:

1. Increase the duration: Gradually increase the time you hold the plank position. Start with a comfortable duration and progressively challenge yourself by adding a few seconds or minutes each week.

2. Add variations: Incorporate different plank variations to target specific muscles and increase the intensity of your workout. Variations such as side planks, plank jacks, and plank with leg lifts can help engage additional muscle groups and elevate your calorie burn.

3. Combine with other exercises: Include the plank as part of a circuit or HIIT workout. By combining the plank with other exercises that target different muscle groups, you can create a calorie-burning, full-body workout.

4. Maintain proper form: Focus on maintaining proper form throughout the plank. A strong and stable plank position ensures maximum engagement of your core muscles and optimizes calorie burn.

Other Benefits of the Plank Exercise

Apart from calorie burn, the plank exercise offers a range of other benefits. Here are a few reasons why you should consider incorporating the plank into your fitness routine:

1. Core strength: The plank targets and strengthens your core muscles, including the abdominals, back muscles, and hip muscles. A strong core improves overall stability, balance, and posture.

2. Improved posture: Regularly performing planks can help correct postural imbalances and promote proper alignment. By strengthening the muscles that support your spine, you can alleviate back pain and maintain a healthy posture.

3. Increased stability: The plank exercise challenges your stability and balance, as you must engage your core muscles to maintain a straight line from head to toe. Improved stability can enhance performance in other activities and reduce the risk of injuries.

4. Time-efficient workout: The plank can be done in a matter of minutes and requires no equipment. It's a time-efficient exercise that can be incorporated into your busy schedule or combined with other exercises for a comprehensive workout.

Tips for Incorporating the Plank Exercise Into Your Fitness Routine

Here are some tips to help you incorporate the plank exercise into your fitness routine:

1. Start with proper form: Before attempting longer or more challenging planks, ensure you have mastered the basic plank position. Focus on maintaining a straight line from head to toe and engaging your core muscles.

2. Gradually increase duration: Begin with shorter plank holds, such as 20-30 seconds, and gradually increase the duration as your strength improves. Aim for at least 60 seconds for optimal benefits.

3. Add variations: Once you're comfortable with the traditional plank, experiment with different variations to target specific muscle groups and keep your workouts interesting. Side planks, forearm planks, and plank knee-to-elbow are just a few examples of plank variations you can try.

4. Incorporate into a routine: Include the plank exercise as part of a comprehensive workout routine that includes strength training, cardiovascular exercises, and flexibility training. Aim for at least two to three days of plank exercises per week.

Tracking and Measuring Calorie Burn During Exercise

If you're interested in tracking and measuring your calorie burn during exercise, several wearable devices and fitness apps can help. These devices use sensors and algorithms to estimate calorie expenditure based on factors such as heart rate, duration of exercise, and individual characteristics.

While these tools can provide a rough estimate of your calorie burn, it's important to remember that they may not be 100% accurate. Calorie burn can vary significantly depending on individual factors and the specific nature of your workout. Therefore, it's best to use these devices as general guidelines rather than relying solely on their readings.


The plank exercise is a versatile and effective way to strengthen your core, improve posture, and yes, burn calories. While the exact number of calories burned during a plank may not be as high as more intense exercises, the plank offers numerous other benefits that make it a valuable addition to any fitness routine.

By gradually increasing the duration, incorporating variations, and maintaining proper form, you can maximize your calorie burn during the plank exercise. Remember to listen to your body, progress at your own pace, and consult with a fitness professional if you have any underlying health conditions or concerns.

So, the next time you hit the gym or exercise at home, don't forget to include a plank or two in your workout routine. Your core will thank you, and your calorie burn will add up over time. Get ready to feel the burn and achieve those fitness goals with the mighty plank!

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