Stronger and stronger to the core

I like to alternate our challenges between healthy eating (or "drinking" as in our water challenge) 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 we have done before-- THE DREADED PLANK CHALLENGE. 
My work out partner Gail will attest to my weak, pitiful, (and most often only from my knees) 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 weak abdominal muscles. 
Building strong abs and core muscles are vital to your health and well being. Often when people fall and injure themselves the reason they fall all the way to the ground is they are unable to "catch themselves" due to weak core muscles. 
Since planks are one of the most effective ways to get a good core 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 has been 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 (Sandee's favorite!)
or The Wall Plank

If you can only do the above wall plank eventually you will get strong enough to do a kitchen counter plank and eventually to do a floor plank from your knees as pictured above and finally a full body plank. Along with a regular planks the following are extremely helpful in getting your abs into shape.

And remember push up and go down with total control (no letting gravity flop you to the ground)

Here is another variation to work toward or incorporate. 

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.
For every day that you do some type of plank exercise (modify as necessary) this week you earn 5 daily bonus challenge points. For a total of 30 bonus points (no planking on Sunday's! ) Happy abbing ladies and I hope you all continue to carry on with this simple but powerful exercise. 

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