It's time to PLANK

Beautiful Abs and a strong core

I like to alternate our challenges between healthy eating and healthy exercise or other habits. So you guessed it- this is an exercise week. I'm afraid you are often at the mercy of things I most need to work on in my efforts to care for my body so I am going to repeat a challenge from last spring-- THE DREADED PLANK CHALLENGE. 
My work out partner Gail will attest to my weak, pitiful, face grimacing planks. I really need to work on it daily. 
Shape Magazine suggests "Core exercises like the plank help train muscles to stabilize the spine and pelvis so you can avoid back pain and improve posture." I know that's true. Often our sore back, our sore neck and our sore shoulders are all occurring because we have weak core and especially abdominal muscles. 
Since planks are one of the most effective ways to get a good ab work out I would recommend you start a daily plan challenge like this one and continue it beyond this week of competition and maybe even beyond the end of our challenge 

As with any exercise if you give a good and consistent effort you will improve continually.

My older daughter is a Pilates instructor and she recently had a couple in their 50's that could hold a plank for 7 minutes. You too can do incredible things if you make consistent, concerted effort. 

If you find doing a full plank too difficult you might want to begin with one of these modifications
The knee elbow plank
or The Wall Plank

Along with a regular plank the following are extremely helpful in getting your abs into shape.

Why it works: This abs exercise is more challenging than a traditional plank because you're supporting your entire body weight on two points of contact instead of four. As a result, you must work your core harder to stay stabilized.
How to do it:
A. Lie on your left side with your elbow directly beneath your shoulder and legs stacked. Place your right hand on your left shoulder or on your right hip.
B. Brace your abs and lift your hips off the floor until you're balancing on your forearm and feet so that your body forms a diagonal line. Hold for 30 to 45 seconds. If you can’t hold that long, stay up as long as you can and then repeat until you’ve held for 30 seconds total. Switch sides and repeat.

Why it works: This abs exercise involves full-body movement, such as the arms and legs, while incorporating resistance to strengthen your entire core.
How to do it:
A. Start in pushup position with hands two inches wider than your shoulders.
B. Walk hands out as far as possible, then walk back. Do 10-12 reps.
Why it works: This abs exercise uses your entire core to keep your body stabilized and burns additional calories by adding movement (dragging yourself along the floor). It mixes cardio, stability, and strength training to get you fast results.

Alligator Drag

(* You tube has some great videos of how to do this one)
How to do it:
A. Find a stretch of floor that allows you to go forward 10 to 20 yards, and grab anything that will slide over the surface with minimal friction. Dinner plates or plastic bags work on a carpeted floor, while towels work on wood or tile.
B. Start in pushup position with your feet on the slides, towels, or plates.
C. Walk yourself forward with your hands to the end of your runway (aim for at least 10 yards). Rest for 60 to 90 seconds (or as long as you need to recover) and repeat the alligator walk back to where you started. That’s one set. Repeat one more time.
I realize that some of these AB exercises might be beyond your ability (for now!) If they are, do a google search for Beginner Ab exercises and find something more appropriate for your abilities. We must always start where we are to journey to where we want to be.

For every day that you do some type of plank exercise (modify if necessary) this week you earn 5 daily bonus challenge points. Happy abbing ladies and I hope you all continue to carry on with this simple but powerful exercise. 

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