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Is plank good for belly fat?

Belly fat is a common problem many people face. Excess fat around the belly area, also known as abdominal or visceral fat, has been linked to multiple health issues like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even certain cancers. That’s why losing belly fat is an important health goal for many. But is planking an effective exercise for reducing belly fat? Let’s take a closer look.

What is Plank?

The plank is a simple yet challenging core strength exercise that involves maintaining a position similar to a push-up for an extended period of time. To perform a basic plank:

  • Get into a push-up position on the floor, supporting your weight on your forearms and toes.
  • Keep your back straight and your core engaged.
  • Hold this position, making sure your body forms a straight line from shoulders to heels.

Many variations of the plank exercise exist, including side planks and planks with arm or leg extensions. But the basic plank described above is the most common. Planks help strengthen numerous muscles in the arms, shoulders, chest, back and core. As an isometric exercise, planks build endurance in these muscles as you hold the plank position.

Can Planks Reduce Belly Fat?

Now let’s examine whether planks can specifically help reduce belly fat.

Planks Work the Abdominal Muscles

One of the main benefits of plank exercises is that they engage all of the abdominal muscles, including the rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, and internal and external obliques. Strengthening these core muscles helps cinch in the waistline and provides functional strength in the midsection. Strong abdominal muscles also improve posture and spine stability.

So in short, yes planks directly work the muscles of the abdominal area. Performing them regularly can lead to more defined, toned abs over time.

Planks Burn Calories

Planks are an effective calorie-burning exercise. Holding a plank position requires muscle endurance in the core, arms and shoulders. This sustained muscle engagement burns calories. The longer you can hold a plank, the more calories you’ll burn.

One study found that planks burn around 10 calories per minute for a 160-pound person. So holding a plank for 5 minutes would torch roughly 50 calories. Over time, these small calorie expenditures add up, contributing to overall fat loss, including in the belly region.

Planks Alone May Not Be Enough

While planks engage abdominal muscles and burn some calories, planks alone may not create significant reductions in belly fat for most people.

Some key reasons:

  • Planks target the abdominal muscles, but fat loss occurs across the entire body. Spot reduction of fat in one area is not possible through exercise alone.
  • Weight loss and fat reduction relies heavily on being in a calorie deficit, which requires dietary changes for most people.
  • Planks burn calories, but not to the extent of cardiovascular exercise like running, swimming, etc.

For optimal belly fat loss, planks are likely most effective when combined with a healthy nutrition plan to reduce overall body fat, alongside other forms of exercise.

How Planks Can Contribute to Fat Loss

Despite their limitations for targeted belly fat reduction, consistently performing planks can still be helpful for weight and fat loss in these key ways:

Builds Strong Core Muscles

Planks build endurance and strength in the abdominal muscles. Strong abdominal muscles support core stability and spinal health, while giving shape to the midsection. A strong core helps improve posture and athletic performance as well.

Increases Calorie Burn

As an exercise that requires sustained muscle engagement, planks burn calories and contribute to overall daily calorie expenditure. More calories burned daily leads to greater calorie deficits, which promotes fat loss over time.

Boosts Metabolism

Muscle is metabolically active tissue, meaning it burns calories even at rest. The more muscle built through strength training exercises like planks, the higher your resting metabolism is, which supports weight loss efforts.

Complementary Exercise

While less effective on their own for fat loss, planks complement cardio exercise and resistance training. Planks can be added to any workout routine to strengthen the core. A strong core enhances other exercises like squats, deadlifts, and presses.

Optimal Plank Routine for Fat Loss

To get the most out of planks for supporting fat loss goals, follow these plank workout guidelines:

Perform Planks 3-4 Times Per Week

Planks should be done on non-consecutive days, allowing a day of rest in between plank sessions. This provides adequate recovery for the abdominal muscles between training days.

Include 3 Sets of Planks

For optimal strength and endurance gains, perform 3 sets of planks during each workout. This provides enough volume to challenge the muscles without overdoing it.

Progress Plank Hold Time

Start with holds for 20-30 seconds and gradually increase hold times up to 60 seconds or longer. As the abdominal muscles get stronger, aim for astraight plank hold of 60 seconds per set if possible.

Add Plank Variations

Mix up basic front planks with other variations like side planks, planks with arm/leg extensions, and planks on an exercise ball. Changing the variation keeps planks engaging and challenging.

Combine With Other Exercise

For best results, perform planks alongside cardio, interval training, weight training, and other calorie-burning exercises as part of a comprehensive workout routine.

Nutrition for Losing Belly Fat

While planks can assist with fat loss all over the body, getting rid of excess belly fat still requires an emphasis on nutrition and diet above all else. Here are some nutritional tips for maximizing belly fat loss:

Focus on a Calorie Deficit

A calorie deficit, where you burn more calories than you consume, is the key driver of fat loss. Reduce daily calorie intake by 500-1000 calories to steadily lose 1-2 pounds per week.

Increase Protein Intake

Protein is the most satiating macronutrient. Getting 30-40% of calories from protein helps control hunger and appetite. Protein also supports metabolism and muscle building.

Reduce Refined Carbs

Limit added sugar, sugary drinks, processed snacks, refined grains and other high glycemic index foods which can increase belly fat storage.

Eat More Fiber

Fiber supports a healthy digestive system, slows digestion, and promotes fullness. Aim for 25-30 grams of fiber per day from vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans and legumes.

Stay Hydrated

Drinking water instead of sugary beverages assists weight loss. Aim for 64 ounces (8 cups) of water daily as a minimum goal.

Other Effective Exercises for Belly Fat

While planks provide many benefits, adding additional forms of exercise to your routine can further enhance belly fat loss results. Here are some of the most effective:


Getting in 150-300 minutes of moderate cardio exercise like brisk walking, jogging or biking is optimal for burning calories and body fat.


High intensity interval training burns more calories in less time than steady state cardio. Alternate short bursts of intense activity with recovery periods.

Weight Training

Lifting weights boosts metabolism, builds muscle and burns fat. Focus on multi-joint, compound exercises that work major muscle groups.


Yoga builds core strength while reducing stress hormones that can drive belly fat gain. Planks are actually derived from yoga poses.


In summary, planks are an effective exercise that can assist with belly fat loss in several ways. As an abdominal exercise, planks strengthen core muscles which improves posture and stability. Performing planks burns calories as well. Planks are most effective when combined with proper nutrition to maintain a calorie deficit, along with other forms of exercise for maximum fat burning effects. A comprehensive approach of nutrition, cardio, strength training and core exercises like planks is ideal for losing stubborn belly fat.