Planks are an exercise that is very famous and oftentimes considered beneficial.
But why is everyone so fond of it? Why are they doing it?
Of course the answer is – to get a toned midsection, flatten the stomach and get a 6 pack – right? Well, after all, it is training the core isn’t it?
You might think to yourself, “Yeah, I suppose.” But lets get a more detailed look into what planking can actually do for you.
Can you get a six pack from planking? Planks will strengthen your abs and lower back muscles. In order to have a well defined and visible six-pack abs and obliques you need have a lower body fat percentage which is achieved by incorporating a healthy diet while staying in a slight caloric deficit.
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What Exactly Happens to Your Body When You Are Doing Planks
Planks are an isometric exercises that targets the core. What that means is that you are holding one position for a certain amount of time or for as long as possible. Planking (also known as abdominal plank or front plank) strengthens the abs, lower back and shoulders.
Isometric exercises do have some benefits:
- They can improve strength in that particular position they are being held in.
- They can improve stabilization.
- They might be of benefit for people with injuries and for people with arthritis.
Planking can help strengthen the core and it might help in getting a six pack. But thats all there is to it – a single “might”.
So why the uncertainty?
What Is Required to Get a Six Pack?
The problems comes from the following factors.
In order to get a six pack we need to meet some criteria:
- We need a low body fat percentage – that is ideally between 7 to 13%
- We need to train and eat properly to maintain the muscle tone, definition and the low body fat percentage.
In fact, I can tell you one more thing that you will definitely find of interest – something I told one of the people I helped getting to their goals not a long time ago.
You can get a six pack without doing a million crunches, sit ups, planks or even training abs at all, for that matter.
And here’s why.
If you are following a good and properly designed training routine (even a bodyweight routine can do that for you) you are most definitely already training your abs in a significant way. Of course there are certain benefits of training that is focused on abs – especially for athletes. Still, for the majority of people that are note interested in gaining specific athlete performance and endurance and just want a flat belly with a six pack showing – truth be told – training abs is not necessary.
The Two Major Aspects of Getting Six Pack Abs
There are two main aspects of actually achieving a six pack.
And there is a reason why a lot of people can and do struggle with getting a nice shredded abs. And it is because many focus on just one of the two – more frequently they focus on just training…
We need to train to keep our bodies and muscles fit and healthy. That’s okay but there’s always more to it.
What I have noticed while working with people is that they have a bit of misunderstanding regarding the things that at work here.
What happens is that many people decide “I want to get a six pack,” and usually that means as fast as possible. First it takes time – like with any good thing worth having. Second – training is just one side of the coin.
They start training for a few days and they don’t see the results they want so they obsess with the lack of results – they get discouraged and eventually quit training altogether going back to their old habits.
What they don’t realize is that they never gave themselves the necessary time to develop their understanding of training – and to make it more effective. And they never incorporated a proper diet into their regiment. Which takes us to the next aspect…
2. Healthy Diet
“Six packs are built in the kitchen” – people say.
And this is not a joke. Neither it is a myth.
When talking about fat loss a healthy diet is just, if not more, important as training. In fact you can loose fat and lower your body fat percentage (an important factor for getting a six pack) just by dieting alone (and by just taking a good walk every day).
In order to have your abs visible you need to get yourself into a caloric deficit. While being in a caloric deficit what you are accomplishing is you are breaking down the excess fat that is in your body. Shredding off the fat around your abs and oblique muscles is going to get your abs to show.
In addition to being in a caloric deficit you need to follow a healthy diet. Alcohol, excessive sugar consumption, and bad (rancid) fat intake leads to unwanted fat gain (including visceral fat) and increase in the body fat percentage. And this is exactly what we don’t want to see happening.
What am I getting at here?
The problem with many people not getting a six pack is that they:
- Focus too much on the wrong factors.
- Are not incorporating the two necessary things in order to lower their body fat percentage.
- Don’t give themselves enough time to learn and adapt.
Are Planks the best exercise I can do for a six pack?
Contrary to most believe – planks are not really the best exercise for abs or a six pack.
As we have established getting a six pack to be visibly showing is, in the first place, a question of a proper diet.
On the other hand planks are not the best exercise for ab training. A lot of the associated benefits with planking are not really true and planking might even have a negative effect on posture, it has a poor carryover to athletic performance and it just builds strength in a static position where abs need to be able to dynamically stabilize our body.
With a healthy diet you can get yourself a six pack even will little exercise. Some people can even get them with no exercise at all or with a low intensity cardiovascular movements like, for example, walking, that has proven benefits for fat loss.
Will Doing More Planks Get You a Six Pack Quicker?
If you are really motivated it is only natural to want to achieve the desired results faster, right?
I too had the same habit of, “I have enough energy to train more, so why not do it?“
With training the resting is just as important of a factor as training itself. It is probably one of the strangest things about training, that people find out with time. It is something I try to teach everyone that I train with – and, let me tell you, I get some strange looks.
When you are training you are essentially breaking down the muscles. And they grow as a results of them recovering and adapting.
You need to find the right amount of stimulation for your muscles to grow and for your body to recover optimally at the same time, after each training session. Otherwise you are risking overtraining, burning yourself out, and / or getting injured.
Doing planks everyday or doing them for longer periods of time will not necessary yield better results…
- Training everyday can lead to overtraining and possible injuries due to overuse and not getting enough rest.
- Doing planks for longer can build performance and endurance but will not necessary create a visible six pack.
What You Can Do to Get Six Pack Abs
Spot reduction has been somewhat debunked. Even though it can be said it exists its effects are so small that they are practically nonexistent. The reason I am telling you this is to, hopefully, help you to not get your attention focused on the wrong things.
You can have a six pack but if it is covered by fat it will never show.
You need more than just planking in order to build a six pack. This includes starting a healthy diet, maintaining a caloric deficit, and training. And having the first two aspects covered it would mean that even low intensity exercises will do wonders for your abs.
The right steps towards achieving a 6 pack are:
- Start a healthy diet. – Avoiding processed foods, sugars, alcohol, and bad fats will lower the chances of gaining undesired fat.
- Get into a caloric deficit. – Burn more calories than you eat. This is essential as it leads to lowering the body fat percentage and getting your abs to show.
- Incorporate some training into your daily regiment. – Even low intensity cardiovascular training will do the job.
- Be patient. – Lowering the body fat percentage takes time. Depending on the individual predisposition the amount of time can very greatly from person to person.