Abs are one of my favorite body parts to train because having a strong core is important, but I also train abs because of vanity purposes. There are countless ab exercises you should do, one of the most popular being the plank. It's friendly to all fitness levels and will no doubt strengthen your core, but if you're trying to burn belly fat, it won't be of much use.
The plank works your anterior core — the muscles that make up the front of your core like the rectus abdominis (aka the six-pack). Anterior stability exercises teach you how to avoid too much lumbar extension of the spine, more commonly known as arching the spine. Performing plank variations consistently will also help strengthen your transverse abdominis, the deepest of your core muscles, which acts as a corset and helps stabilize your spine and pelvis.
Incorporating the plank into your ab routine has many benefits (this plank workout is so good), but it's not your best option if you're trying to burn belly fat. In fact, any isolated ab exercise won't burn belly fat because spot reduction doesn't work. Holding a plank can make you feel like your arms are going to fall off, you're going to collapse, and your breathing may be heavy, but you aren't expending that much energy (aka calories) in a plank.
In order to burn belly fat, I recommend focusing on movements that require more energy to perform, like compound exercises such as squats and push-ups, because they work multiple groups of muscle at once. This will also help you reduce the amount of overall body fat you have and build muscle, which is a win-win in my opinion.
If you're looking for workouts that will help you get the most bang for your buck and burn body fat, try one of the following:
- A weekly workout plan for all levels
- A four-week beginner workout plan
- A 25-minute HIIT workout
- 15 fat-burning workouts