Isometric planks: benefits and how to perform them

Isometric planks are one of those exercises that becomes popular again before summers. However, its effectiveness in strengthening the core and in the acquisition of resistance they make them an essential alternative in all training, be it at home or in the gym.

As an isometric exercise, the plates require little space, equipment and experience for their development. There are, however, some considerations to keep in mind to avoid back injuries.

Today we will tell you everything you need to know about isometric plates so that you can implement a routine according to your physical condition. We will teach you what to do and what not to do and we will also point out some benefits that you receive if you do them on a recurring basis.

What are isometric plates?

Isometric plates, also known as isometric abs, are an exercise to work the entire area of ​​the core. The core It is the area of ​​the middle trunk composed of the abdominal region, the pelvis, the lower back, the buttocks and part of the muscles of the spine.

In practice, and depending on the variant chosen, Planks can also work your arms, shoulders, and even your quads and calves. They are, therefore, a comprehensive exercise whose main characteristic is that it does not require specialized equipment, it can be performed at home and it adapts to different levels of resistance.

Such a routine is contrary to plyometrics. That is, it is performed statically, without compromising the heart rate to the maximum or pushing the capabilities of those who perform them to the limit. That is why they are an alternative that is suitable for both experienced athletes and those who are just beginning to exercise.

Do not stop reading: 6 keys to achieve strong abs

How to correctly perform an isometric plank?

Although the technique for doing an abdominal plank may seem easy, there are many who shy away from this exercise because they have experienced back pain after its execution.

What you should not do while developing a plank routine is the following:

  • Tilt your head up or down: your gaze should always be fixed on the ground or following the natural posture of your back and your torso. You should not lift or tilt your head up or down; this only puts stress on the trapezius area.
  • Arch your back: In short, the trick to making an isometric plank is to create a line parallel to the ground. You should not arch your back, as the tension moves from the abs to the arms. In addition, posture can lead to injuries, which affect all the muscles of the spine.
  • Drop your hips: a movement contrary to the previous one, very common in novice athletes. Lack of strength and endurance in the abdominal and lower back causes a slight collapse of the hips, which can put stress on the upper back muscles.
  • Failure to align the pelvis: The perfect abdominal plank technique involves aligning your pelvis with your upper and lower body. Small deviations compromise the pelvic floor muscles, something that can take its toll after a couple of weeks of exercise.
  • Not supporting the arms in the correct position: If you opt for the classic style, either in its variant with the palms of the hands or the elbows, you must open them at the natural height of the shoulders. If they are not aligned properly, it can cause stress on the neck or shoulder blade muscles.

The isometric plank must respect certain characteristics to be effective and not cause injuries or subsequent pain.


The classic style of a plank is done with the arms extended, firm and making a parallel line with the ground. To do this, follow these tips:

  • Lie face down on the floor and mimic the posture of a push-up.
  • Spread your hands at the height of your shoulders, with the elbows forming a straight line with the latter. Stretch your feet so your knees don't buckle, and raise your hips to shoulder height.
  • Check your posture:you should form a parallel line with the ground. Tense the balls of your feet, your arms and your abdomen a little to maintain this position.

The goal is to try to endure as long as possible. If you are a beginner, you can start with 20 seconds and then increase by 10 seconds with each attempt. If possible, try to do it with your legs together.

Also read: Types of abs and what is each one for

With elbows on the ground

In case you want a little more complexity, you can try the variant that rests your elbows on the ground. It is done as follows:

  • Lie face down on the floor and mimic the posture of a push-up.
  • Bend your arms at a 90-degree angle so that your forearms support the ground.. These should be separated from each other at the natural distance of the shoulders. You can join them if it is more comfortable for you.
  • Tense the balls of your feet, raise the hips and back to shoulder height and try to support the longest time in this position.

Isometric planks with elbows on the floor engage your chest and deltoid muscles.

With leg lift

Although the principle of isometric exercises is to minimize movements, you can include this variant if you are looking for greater abdominal tension:

  • Lie back and mimic the classic plank pose.
  • When the stopwatch starts to run raise one leg in a straight line and do oscillating movements.
  • During this time you should avoid losing your balance or neglecting your posture. To do this, create tension in the areas of contact with the ground and in your abdomen.
  • In the next series repeat this movement with the other leg.

The leg lift should be extended in a straight line. You can start with very short oscillating chains if you are a beginner.

With lifting of arms and legs

More complex version of the previous plate, intended for those who have already completely mastered the other:

  • Lie back and mimic the posture of the classic plank.
  • When the stopwatch starts to run simultaneously raise your right arm and your left leg. Make it as high as you can while not compromising the indicated posture.
  • After a couple of seconds alternate the movements with the left arm and the right leg. These must be fully stretched to count as a valid move.

Although it seems simple, for a few seconds the weight of your body will be the responsibility of only two points of contact. The core it will be fully activated for stability.


If you are interested in working your obliques, the side planks will be your priority. The classic style consists of the following:

  • Lie on the floor with your torso on your side, your elbow for support, and both feet straight and close together.
  • Try to form a straight line from your head to the balls of your feet.
  • Prevents the hip from sagging and the free arm can be stretched straight line or holding your waist. Take special care of the cervical area, since more tension is usually accumulated with this iron.
  • Hold the posture for the planned time and then alternate sideways in the next series.

Many injuries occur when performing this lateral variant incorrectly. Make sure your eyes look straight ahead, not down.

Benefits of performing isometric planks

There are many people who dismiss the planks considering that they are a very low intensity exercise. However, as long as a varied routine is established and is accompanied by other exercises for the core, these provide the following benefits:

  • They help muscle growth: Although the results do not mimic the levels of muscle hypertrophy that are obtained with other exercises for the abdomen, studies have certified an increase in the muscular walls of the entire core. Planks can be used, in this sense, as a method of avoiding the monotony of base exercises.
  • They contribute to lumbar stabilization: Research confirms the benefits of isometric planks for lower back stability. This has been shown to be most effective when performing variants that involve greater tension and balance.
  • They can be used as a recovery alternative: there is evidence that plates can serve as an adjunct to treatment for diastasis rectus abdominis. They have also been shown to be helpful in reducing episodes of low back pain, especially if the cause is a weakening of the muscles in this area.
  • They increase the strength and endurance of the trunk: This has been shown by several studies, so that isometric planks can be used by novice and experienced athletes as training.

Side planks are an injury-prone variant, so they must be performed with care.

Contraindications of isometric plates

As we have repeatedly pointed out, If you do not take care of your posture when doing the planks, you may experience back pain. This is concentrated in the lumbar and cervical areas. In any case, it can be avoided with relative ease if you apply the indicated indications.

There are groups of people in whom its execution is contraindicated. Although its use is recommended postpartum, it is not during the last months of pregnancy. People who are overweight or obese, those with inguinal hernia or chronic back pain should not include them in their routine either.

If you have doubts regarding the plates, you can always consult a trusted specialist. It will be this, based on your medical history, who recommends them or not.

General Considerations About Isometric Plates

As a complement to what we have already presented, we invite you to consider the following elements the next time you decide to make isometric plates:

  • Make sure you have enough space to fully stretch your body.
  • Use a yoga mat if the surface of the floor doesn't provide adequate friction.
  • Suspend the performance if you feel abnormal pressure or pain in your back.
  • If you want to try the weighted variant, only include it progressively.
  • Have a stopwatch handy to time the time of the iron.
  • If you're just starting out, rest a minute or two between each set. You will lower the time as you gain stamina.
  • Don't do them every day. Like other exercises, you should avoid overtraining.

Although isometric plates work the entire area of ​​the core when its variants are applied, they are not an exercise that should completely replace your abdominal routines. On the contrary, they are one more complement.

Lastly, keep in mind that they are not useful for weight loss. As we have already told you, it is not possible to eliminate fat in a localized way. If you are looking for this, there are other more effective methods to lose weight in a healthy way.