I see people asking this question time-and-time again, “Can You Get a 6-Pack Just From Planking?”
Planks are undoubtedly a favourite exercise for many people.
We all know planks work the core
They don’t require any equipment.
Plus, you can easily drop-down and complete a quick plank just about anywhere.
But, just how effective are planks in producing a toned and rippled midsection?
Can You Get a 6-Pack Just From Planking?
If you have low enough body-fat levels you can get defined abs from just planking. Planks work the entire core, including the rectus abdominis, which is the long muscle most commonly associated with six-packs. However, this muscle will be impossible to see if you’re carrying excess body fat.
The Truth About Planks
I agree that planks are a fantastic exercise.
Plus, I much prefer them to sit ups and crunches.
In fact, I strongly believe that sit ups and crunches are possibly the worst ab exercises going.
Simply put, they typically cause more damage than good, especially to the health of the spine.
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So, planks get a definite thumbs up from me.
Planks also work the entire core, including the hips and the lower back.
As for the abs, planks work the internal and external obliques.
They work the deepest ab muscles, the transverse abdominis.
Plus, planks will work the actual 6-pack muscles that can be seen, the rectus abdominis.
Therefore, you can definitely get 6-pack abs just from planking, but there are a few things you should be wary of first.
Are You Making These Planking Mistakes?
As simple an exercise as the plank is, it is still typically massacred by the masses.
It’s not uncommon to see the plank performed with terrible form.
In fact, I’ll go as far to say that when you hear of people completing planks for 2, 3, 5, or even more minutes at a time, it’s likely that they are not performing the exercise correctly.
If you are completing planks exactly as they should be done, while contracting ALL the muscles correctly, a one-minute plank is going to feel very tough.
The Most Common Planking Mistakes
The first planking mistake is arching your back.
This often happens without you even realising it.
As soon as you arch your back you reduce the tension in your core, which pretty much defeats the object of the plank.
Next, is the hips dipping too low.
This frequently occurs as your arms or your core begin to fatigue, and once again this means that you’re no longer engaging your core.
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Additionally, by dipping your hips you are putting a great deal of strain on the lower back.
I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that this could potentially lead to an injury.
Finally, your head placement plays an important role in planking.
There is a tendency to either look up or face forwards when planking.
This unfortunately can put undue pressure on the neck, which once again could cause an injury.
It is also likely to release the tension from your core, which yet again defeats the purpose of the plank.
So, while it is perfectly feasible to produce 6-pack abs from planking, it’s highly unlikely if you’re making any of these mistakes.
Get a 6-Pack By Lowering Your Body Fat
The most important factor when it comes to producing a 6-pack is your body-fat levels.
I’m sure you’ve often heard that it’s impossible to spot reduce fat from a specific area of the body, and this is especially true of the belly.
You can do all the planks you like.
In fact, you may even be able to hold the perfect plank for 20 minutes.
However, you will never get to see that coveted 6-pack if your abs are hidden under a layer of fat.
We all actually possess a 6-pack, but the likelihood of being able to see it depends on your levels of body fat.
For me, planking and other ab-specific exercises are the final piece of the puzzle.
The last 10% if you will.
In order to produce a 6-pack you will need to work on the 90% first.
Diet and Nutrition
I know, I know, you don’t want to hear it, but unfortunately it’s true.
We’ve all heard various ab and nutrition-related phrases:
“Abs are made in the kitchen.”
“Abs are 80% diet and 20% exercise”.
I’m not entirely sure how correct these facts and figures are, but let’s just say how you fuel your body has a massive impact on the visibility of your abs.
Your daily plank ritual has probably produced a great set of toned and developed abs already.
However, if you’re regularly stuffing your face with pizza, fried chicken, burgers, fries, ice cream, and chocolate, good luck in ever seeing your abs.
Look, you don’t have to make drastic changes to your nutrition, well unless the above foods are part of your daily diet.
It’s more likely that you’ll need to make some minor tweaks here-and-there.
You simply have to look at lowering your body fat percentage.
A man will have visible abs with a body fat percentage of 15% or under, whereas a woman should aim for under 20%.
So, this is by no means impossible to achieve.
My basic rules for nutrition are:
- Avoid processed foods and cut back on refined carbs.
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day.
- Increase your protein intake.
- Fill up on fibre.
I know it’s easier said than done, but if you want a visible six-pack then you have to start somewhere.
How to Eat For Abs
For some reason, whenever we want to lose weight or burn body fat, cardio seems to be the first thought.
However, lean muscle plays a huge role in burning calories and body fat.
In fact, the more lean muscle you have, the more calories you will burn throughout the day.
So, my advice would always be to have more of a focus on strength and resistance training if you want to see your abs.
Actually, scrap that – if you want to be healthier, fitter, and look fantastic in general then focus on strength and resistance training.
There’s a common misconception that hitting the weights, or strength training of any sort, is going to make us big and bulky.
In truth, the only way to get big and bulky is lift massive weights, increase your daily calorie intake by at least 50%, and you’ll probably still need some additional help from testosterone-boosting supplements.
So, lifting weights or strength training alone won’t make you big and bulky, but it will help you to look as sexy as hell.
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Do the Right Type of Cardio
I’ve just spoken of the role that lean muscle plays in burning calories and making us look great.
However, too many people perform cardio in such a way that they are burning muscle, as opposed to fat.
The less muscle you have, the slower your metabolic rate, and the harder it is for the body to burn calories and fat.
I’m talking about steady-state, moderate-intensity cardio here.
Jogging, treadmill, stationary bike, elliptical trainer, etc.
Don’t get me wrong, this type of slow, easy-paced cardio has its place if you are very overweight and are looking to lose weight quickly.
That being said, the body adapts very quickly to this type of exercise.
So, it’s not long before you have to add more-and-more time to your workouts.
This is what will eventually start burning into your muscle stores.
For me, I much prefer to perform short and intense conditioning workouts over cardio.
If you’re following the nutritional guidelines I’ve mentioned and doing some strength training, you’ll need far less cardio than you think.
My conditioning workouts are usually performed as finishers at the end of my workout.
They typically take me no longer than 5-15 minutes to complete.
And I know that I have revved up my fat-burning capacity into overload.
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The Three Ab Moves You Need For a 6-Pack
I will also say how you perform your planks will have a bearing on whether you produce a 6-pack or not.
Are you still dropping down into the “standard plank position” and doing little more?
You need to add some variety into your plank routine.
Furthermore, there are 3 types of movement that you should focus on when doing ab-specific exercises.
- Flexion and Extension
Flexion and extension is most commonly seen in sit ups and crunches.
However, I’ve already mentioned that I’m not a fan, and I view these as terrible and dangerous exercises.
A prime example of how to use flexion and extension when planking will be to bring your knees individually towards your chest.
I guess you could call mountain climbers a type of flexion and extension plank, but there’s no need to perform the move at speed.
Rotation is as obvious as it sounds, and you should aim to rotate the trunk in some way.
A good example would be a side plank with reach under.
Finally, stabilization is what we are basically doing every time we perform a plank.
We are stabilizing the muscles of the core and holding everything together while balancing.
You can of course kick this up a notch or two.
How about a plank while holding a limb out – an arm or a leg.
You could try two limbs at the same time, the opposite arm and leg.
This will make the standard plank much harder, while also really working at the stabilization technique.
You could of course try the ultimate plank and complete all 3 movements in one exercise.
Try a plank with your right arm held out, your left knee brought up to the right-side of the body, and then hold for as long as possible.
22 Plank Variations
Can you get a 6-pack just from planking?
Well, hopefully now you can answer this question yourself.
It is of course perfectly feasible, but only if you have a low body fat percentage to start off with.
This should be your first port of call.
Aim to focus on your diet, resistance training and conditioning.
Then look to have some variety in your planks, while focusing on flexion and extension, rotation, and stabilization.
If you can get all of these factors together at the same time, those visible abs may no longer be a dream.
Hi, I’m Partha, the founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I’m someone who’s been passionate about exercise and nutrition for more years than I care to remember. I’ve studied, researched, and honed my skills for a number of decades now. So, I’ve created this website to hopefully share my knowledge with you. Whether your goal is to lose weight, burn fat, get fitter, or build muscle and strength, I’ve got you covered.