Perform the Plank Exercise to Improve Core Strength

Woman doing plank
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Strengthening the core is an important aspect of any workout program. Not only does a strong and solid core look good, but more importantly, it helps to stabilize, balance, and power the body during just about every other activity. Core strength is the basis for all coordinated and powerful athletic movements. The muscles that make up what we call the core, include more than just the abs. The muscles that run from the pelvis along the spine and to the shoulder girdle all make up the core. It is these muscles, working together, that make it possible to move efficiently and transfer power to the arms and legs. A strong core can also help reduce stress on the joints and helps protects against many common injuries.


Watch Now: Perform the Plank Exercise to Improve Core Strength

To ensure you keep your core strong and stable, consider adding these specific core strengthening exercises to your ab workout program for a new way and effective way to build strength and stability.

How Many Calories Does Planking Burn?

For most people, the goal of doing the plank exercise isn't to burn calories, but to strengthen the core muscles. Doing any exercise that engages more muscles will increase your calorie burn significantly and the plank exercise is not an exception. It's unlikely anyone would hold this position for a long enough time to get a huge calorie burn. That said, the number of calories you can burn doing planks depends upon your body weight and the length of time you hold the plank. Typically, a 150 pound individual will burn about 3 calories a minute holding a plank.

The Plank Abdominal Exercise

The basic plank exercise, which is also sometimes called a hover exercise, is the starting place if you want to improve your core strength and stability.

Here is how to properly perform a plan or hover exercise:

  • Begin in the plank position with your forearms and toes on the floor.
  • Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
  • Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
  • Hold this position for 10 seconds to start.
  • Over time work up to 30, 45, or 60 seconds.

Plank Variations

There are several variations of the regular plank that further work the core muscles to build strength and stability. Here are a couple options.

Plank With Leg Lift

In order to perform a plank with a leg lift, start in the same plank position as above with your forearms and toes on the floor.

  • Slowly raise one leg 5-8 inches off the floor
  • Count to two and slowly lower your leg to the floor.
  • Switch legs and repeat.
  • Do about 2-3 sets of 10 reps.

Plank With Arm Lift

Another way to add variety to the basic plank is to add an arm lift. To perform a plan with an arm lift, follow the steps below:

  • Start in the same plank position as above.
  • Carefully shift your weight to your right forearm.
  • Extend your left arm straight out in front of you.
  • Hold 3 seconds while keeping your core tight.
  • Slowly bring your arm back to starting position.
  • Switch arms and repeat.
  • Do 2-3 sets of 10 reps.

Modified Plank With Leg Lift

To make this exercise a bit easier, you can perform the movement on your hands, rather than your elbows.

Core Muscle Strength and Stability Testing

The Plank exercise can be used as the basis for assessing your core strength. Sports coach Brian Mackenzie created this test as a way to determine an individual's current core strength and stability and then to monitor progress over time. Learn how to do the core muscle strength and stability test.

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