Body Saw Plank: Benefits, Muscles Worked, and More

published by: Debbie Luna
Last Updated:
November 27, 2022

A plank stance is a simple position to achieve. Still, since the plank is an exercise posture that can be kept indefinitely, its difficulty may vary from easy to extremely tough, depending on how long an individual holds it. 

The body saw plank exercise is an example of an isometric core workout in which the individual is required to hold a posture similar to a push-up for as long as it is physically reasonable. It is relatively simple in terms of appearance and the number of steps required to complete one. However, while the body saw plank may seem uncomplicated, executing it is anything but effortless. 

Short-duration planks won't help build much strength, but with body saw planks, that may be possible. An individual needs to switch things up to get the most out of an exercise. It is essential when working on core strength because it ensures we use the most muscles we can for the best physical performance.

What is a Body Saw Plank?

The plank is a simple isometric bodyweight exercise that develops and stabilizes the core while also strengthening the rest of the body. Planks may be performed in various ways, but the fundamental aim is to bring the body parallel to the ground. With the torso facing down, raise the body off the ground using the elbows and toes.

body saw plank

The plank is an exercise that seems much easier than executing a sequence of push-ups. However, a plank is nearly as exhausting since it requires engaging the core and maintaining the body rigid for longer periods than performing a set of push-ups.

The body saw plank is a more complex variation of the traditional plank that works more muscles and is more challenging. Begin in a basic plank posture, holding the body weight with elbows and toes on the floor, then rocking the body back and forth for numerous reps using the feet and upper arms as levers to move the body.

This plank variation requires more strength and burns more calories as the back-and-forth rocking motion necessitates more engagement of the core muscles to stabilize the body and keep it straight.

How to Perform the Body Saw Plank

Start face down on the floor, suspending the body using the toes and elbows. Three elbows should be directly under the shoulders. The hands planted palms down on the floor with the wrists in line with the elbows. The feet and legs should be close together. The legs, hips, and trunk must be lined up straight, and the core must be engaged at all times. This will become the starting position.

Start to rock back and forth, using the elbows and shoulders to move the body. Only move the body as far as the ankle bends. There is also one variation of the body saw where the arms push the body back and the feet push the body forward, giving the calves a workout.

Another variation isolates the arms and shoulders by using a foam roller or suspension trainers to suspend the legs from the floor with the feet hanging freely.

Muscles Worked by the Body Saw Plank

The core muscles work hard when engaged in the plank pose to prevent the body from swaying side to side while maintaining a straight trunk alignment. The body saw plank engages the anterior core muscles, including the external and internal obliques, as well as the rectus and transversus abdominis. To improve spinal stability, the primary muscle stimulated is the transversus abdominis, which maintains abdominal wall tension.

body saw plank muscles

The quadriceps, glutes, erector spinae, and other back muscles are also engaged to support the body in a straight line. In addition, the muscles surrounding the pelvis region, the iliopsoas, rectus femoris, and sartorius, engage to prevent rotation of the legs during the movement.

During the rocking motion, the shoulder, upper arm, and calf muscles work harder than on a regular plank to produce and control the back-and-forth movement.

Benefits of the Body Saw Plank

Full-Body Exercise Anytime, Anywhere

The body saw plank is a bodyweight exercise that can be done whenever and wherever an individual chooses since it does not need equipment. In addition, because it only requires a small amount of floor space, this low-impact workout makes it especially simple to stick to one's regular routine. 

This exercise routine may be carried out anywhere, even on the sand at the beach or on the grass at a local park—just about any location that allows one to get on the ground comfortably and start burning some calories.

Enhances Core Strength

Compared to regular planks, the body saw planks call for a much higher activation level from the core muscles. Because the exercise includes rocking back and forth, the core must put in more effort to keep the spine in a stiff posture, as it maintains stability and necessitates using more stabilizer muscles. 

In a study by Lee et al., they compared three exercises for core strengthening and found that the plank produced the most significant muscle activity compared to the crunch and bridge.

Improves Posture

The muscles in the neck, shoulders, back, abdominals, pelvis, thighs, and legs all get a workout by doing planks. Strengthening these muscles helps improve one's posture significantly. In addition, planking helps improve general balance and stability by teaching the muscles to collaborate more effectively. 

One of the most typical reasons for back discomfort is when the body is not positioned correctly. In addition, a lack of core strength may put a person at risk for several health conditions, such as injuries, poor balance, and lower back pain.

Mistakes to Avoid When Doing Body Saw Planks

High-intensity Planking

People have the misconception that the longer they can hold a plank, the better it is for them. However, this is not always the case, mainly when the form is poor and may lead to unnecessary muscle fatigue that does little for strength and muscular gains.

For example, if an individual is unable to maintain proper form for a more extended period, then it may be better to switch to several sets of shorter-duration planks. Complete the workout without worrying about how long you can hold it.

Rocking Motion too Fast

The rocking motion of the body saw plank makes it unstable and compels more of the core muscles to get engaged to maintain the trunk's correct alignment. On the other hand, the core may not withstand the tension of a back-and-forth motion that is moving too rapidly, which might result in overexertion or injury.

So, to get the most out of this plank exercise and avoid any possible risks, a person should move at a pace that allows them to keep the proper form. The correct tempo for the rocking motion must follow a person's breathing pattern. Inhale when pushing the body forward with the calves and exhale slowly in the opposite direction. This will minimize any potential negative effects.

Hunched Upper Back or Arched Lower Back

People sometimes do the plank exercise incorrectly by arching their backs while holding the position. This will prevent the anterior core muscles from being effectively activated, resulting in the lower back muscles working harder to stabilize the spine.

This activation method for torso stability is not helpful, as this compensatory movement makes the plank seem more effortless but actually reduces the level of energy required from the anterior core.

To get the trunk in the right place, tighten your abdominal muscles and make sure your back is straight. Practicing planks in front of a mirror is helpful when figuring out what's going on with the back.

Final Thoughts

The body saw plank is one example of why it's beneficial to experiment with different variants of classic exercises. This plank variation allows to work a different set of muscle groups and even reach a new intensity level that one would not be able to achieve with a traditional plank workout.


1. Lee J, Jeong KH, Lee H, Shin JY, Choi JL, Kang SB, Lee BH. Comparison of three different surface plank exercises on core muscle activity. Physical Therapy Rehabilitation Science. 2016;5(1):29-33.

Debbie (Deb) started powerlifting and Olympic lifting in High School as part of her track team's programming; She continues to train in order to remain athletic. Inspire US allows Deb to share information related to training, lifting, biomechanics, and more.
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