What Muscles Do Planks Work? It's More than Just Your Core – Greatist

Does doing a plank feel like you’re walking the plank? That might be because they literally exercise your muscles from head to toe.
Ready to rise to the plank challenge? Here’s what muscles you’ll work.
Doing planks on the reg will also work a host of muscles like your hamstrings, quads, deltoids, pecs, biceps, triceps, and a whole lotta back muscles.
Get ready for even more pros of planking.
Your core stabilizes your body. It’s at the center (literally and figuratively) of lots of activities you do on the daily. Whether you’re picking up grocery bags or playing pickle ball, your core has you covered.
Planking is especially helpful for building core strength and muscular endurance. (That’s your muscles’ ability to sustain exercise for a period of time.) According to a small 2019 study of college athletes, researchers found that 8 weeks of core training improved static balance, core endurance, and running performance.
According to researchers, core muscles help stabilize your body and protect your spine from excess force. So whether you’re playing golf or trying to move your living room furniture, planking now and then may help protect you from pain, strain, or injury down the road.
Planks are also easier on your back, neck and spine than other core exercises like sit-ups and crunches.
If you have back or neck pain, doing planks may help. (Just check with your doc first.) By strengthening your core, you can increase spinal stability and alleviate tension.
Strong abs help support your lumbar spine (aka your lower back), which improves your back stability and pelvic movement. According to 2016 research, 3 months of core strengthening exercises including planks “significantly” reduced participants’ lower back pain.
Doing a few planks properly will give you better results than lots of sloppy ones. It’ll also ensure you don’t suffer any unnecessary pain, strain, or injuries. Here’s how to do the classic forearm plank.
Pro tips:
There are lots of variations of the classic plank that can make things more exciting and target different muscles. Here are three to try:
It’s time to work it from side-to-side. The side plank will isolate and challenge your obliques even further.
How to do it:
Pro tip:
Now it’s really time to walk the plank. This will demand an extra kick from your core as well as your upper and lower body including your delts, glutes, quads, hams, and calves.
How to do it:
Pro tip:
If you’re ready for your core to scream, this one may be it for you. This one will really define your obliques as well as further challenge all the muscles in the classic pose.
How to do it:
Planks are a powerful exercise that will boost core strength and work a range of other muscles including the shoulder stabilizers and glutes. Doing them regularly may reduce your risk of injury and even reduce back pain.
Getting bored of the traditional plank position? There are tons plank variations out there to try. If you’re not sure about proper form, reach out to a personal trainer for personalized advice.
Last medically reviewed on August 19, 2021









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