Exercises are the perfect solution to all those physical problems. Almost everything can be tackled with exercise. Whether you are working out to lose those extra pounds, to improve your physical strength or just improve your body and build up some muscle, you will burn calories.
Why Burn Calories?
When the body is exerted and pushed beyond its comfort level, it burns calories to produce the energy for it. The more calories you burn, the more weight and fat you lose. The rate of calories burnt is increased as your metabolic rate increases. Whether you incorporate new exercises or change your diet, your metabolic rate will vary and the calories burnt will also vary accordingly.
Even if you want to just build those muscles and not lose weight, you need to burn calories. In order to increase the muscle mass, the fat in the body has to be decreased. It is burning these calories and working on the muscles, does the muscle actually grow and become stronger and bigger as one would desire.
How To Burn Calories
If you are worried or have not been able to burn much of those stubborn calories, try changing up the exercise routine. There are many exercises that aim at different levels of burning calories. The harder the workout, the more your body needs to exert and hence more calories are burnt. One can do an overall routine to burn more calories or can even do specific exercises that target certain places in the body to strengthen that part and burn calories overall.
It is not just running or lifting weights that can burn calories. Some of the other activities that are effective in burning calories are:
All of the above-listed activities can burn a low and high number of calories based on the intensity. The more intense your workout is, the more calories you burn. The body keeps burning calories even after the exercise is over because the metabolic rate increases and the body get tuned to burning more calories per day.
What Is The Plank?
When you want to burn more calories by the form of focused exercise, the plank position is one of the most effective exercises. This is an exercise that targets a lot of areas in one go, without you realizing it. If your form is right, you will feel the burn throughout the body and over a period of time, will notice how well all your muscles are toned.
How To Do The Plank
The form is extremely important in this exercise. Not only will you not get the results, but will also hurt your back if your form is not correct. Follow these steps to get the perfect form:
- To start off, lie down on your stomach, on the floor. Ensure the surface is even
- Place your forearms underneath your shoulders. Ensure the elbows are tucked in and clench your fists
- Now lift off the floor, so that the weight is on your forearms and toes
- Your shoulders should not touch your arms and your arms should form a 90-degree angle. Ensure your weight is not in the front and your shoulders don’t cross your fists
- Tighten your core muscles as well as your glutes. Your body should be in a straight line from shoulder to your heels
- The abdominal muscles should always be contracted to keep the body straight and prevent the stomach from hanging
- Look down with your nose pointing down, this will ensure your neck muscles are not strained
- Hold this position without shifting, for as long as you can. As you get better, you can increase the number of minutes you stay in this position.
This exercise may sound easy, but only when it is done, will you realize the impact and the muscles that are targeted. It works multiple muscles simultaneously, and all you will have to do is stay in one position. It works your shoulders, forearms, back, abdomen, glutes and even your legs.
Rather than reducing the fat or the size of these muscles, this exercise helps in toning the entire body. It tightens and strengthens all the muscles involved. It majorly helps in increasing the core strength.
Who Can Do It
The best news about this simple yet effective exercise is, there are no age limits. Anyone young or old can do the planks with a little help regarding form and posture. One must always ensure their back is not loose, resulting in a sagged middle.
As many parts of the body are being worked at the same time, the body is challenged to go beyond its comfort level and work harder. When the body is exerted, more calories are burnt. In this exercise, a person who weighs around 150 pounds, stands to burn 221 calories in an hour.
However, the plank is not like a walk or a jog, which can be done for an entire hour. This is more of the short burst exercise, which does not last more than a couple of minutes at a time. This exercise helps in burning a lot of calories in few seconds and also tones up the muscles, well.
How To Calculate
Wondering how to calculate how many calories you are burning after all by doing the planks? One can only roughly calculate the number of calories burnt by noting the difference between the heart rate while in resting state and in post workout state. These reading can be entered in one of the calorie burn calculators available online, to roughly gauge the number of calories burnt.
One can also calculate how many calories does planking burn, by getting tested on a metabolic cart. This machine will let you know how much oxygen is consumed and how much carbon-di-oxide is breathed out.
All you will have to do is, get yourself hooked up to this machine and do the plank as you would normally do. Doing a little more or less than usual will not help in knowing the accurate reading. When tested properly, you can learn how many calories you are burning, every time you do the plank.
Where To Find A Metabolic Cart
These are not available everywhere. Though they are increasingly seen in many gyms, more doctors have them. A well-equipped gym that is into full body development and health improvement will house such a machine. A doctor who is into physiotherapy or sports medicine and fitness is more likely to have such a machine.
It is difficult to determine how many calories you burn by doing this exercise, because:
- The effort exerted differs from person to person
- Only the right form will effectively burn more calories
- It depends on the person’s weight and how evenly it is spread between the limbs
- The basic fitness level of a person also has an influence on the calories burnt. This is because, when a person id fit, they don’t burn much by holding the plank position for a minute or two. When the fitness level is low, the body exerts more, thus burning more calories.
- It also depends on how long the plank position is held for. Not many can hold it beyond a minute or two. The longer you hold the more calories you burn.
Factors That Matter
When you are doing the planks, the following factors have to be considered to understand how effective the exercise can be for you:
- Weight – Your weight is very important. Since the entire body weight has to be supported by your limbs, the heavier you are, the harder it will be.
- Fitness – When you are already fit and workout regularly, your core muscles will be strong and can do the planks without much effort. If you don’t feel the burn or the strain in your abdominal muscle, it means those muscles are not getting worked as much as required. You will have to hold the position longer or do some variations, to engage more and exercise more muscles.
- Duration – The number of seconds or minutes the plank position is held matters. The longer you hold, without compromising on the posture, more is the exertion. This in turn works your muscles harder and provides better results sooner. For someone who is physically fit, this position must be held for at least 2 minutes, for the body to feel the burn and exertion.
For those who find the elbow planks easy and less exerting, there are variations to this position, which can increase the effort required. It can exert your body more and help you burn more calories.
Here are some variations one can try as their fitness level improves:
1. Leg raised plank
This is slightly more difficult than the regular elbow plank. Get into the plank position and lift one foot off the floor. Ensure the leg is extended out straight and is not bent or leaning towards one side. Rest of your body should be in the same position for best results.
Do this for both legs and better results. It will help you burn more calories as more focus and balance is required.
2. Side Planks
This is similar to the elbow planks but is done on your side.
- Get into the plank position and then twist to one side, so that your chest is facing out and the body weight is on one leg and arm (of the same side)
- Lift your other arm off the ground and stretch it upwards, so that the chest is opened out. Ensure your hip does not sag down or hunch backward
- Your body has to be streamlined and the weight should be distributed between the arm and the foot
- This will put more pressure on your arm and leg that is on the ground and will require you to balance more. As a result, your body exerts more energy and burns more calories
- For those who find this easy, try lifting the leg that is not on the ground. Keep it extended out straight. This will require more focus and balance.
- To take it up a notch higher, get off your elbow and balance on your palm and foot on one side. Your other leg and arm should be fully extended upwards and your hip should be lifted up so that your body is in a straight line.
Do this on either side, after you do the normal elbow plank, for better results.
3. Planks With Leg Raises
This is more of a cardio workout which requires you to maintain the plank position throughout.
- Get into the plank position and raise one leg off the floor
- Bring it back to the floor, till it is almost touching. Do not let it touch
- Now take it back up, as high as possible. Do 10-20 reps on each side
- Ensure the body is in perfect form and balance throughout, as a wrong posture can cause back injury
The body always burns calories. Whether exercised or not. When the body is pushed beyond its comfort zone to perform exercises like the planks and its variations, the energy spent is more and the calories burnt is also more. Regular exercise and proper diet can help in improving the metabolic rate of the body, which in turn will increase the number of calories burnt.
The plank is a deceptive exercise, which looks easy from the outside. One may not think much of it when others are doing it, because there is no running or jumping or heavy breathing. Though it may look easy, it is not. It is in fact one of the most effective exercises to that works on all parts of your body.
One should always keep a check on the form when the planks are done. The right form will be very rewarding, while the wrong form can result in severe back pain and injury. When done the right way, one can benefit immensely from this simple looking exercise.