Friday, July 5, 2013

Fitness Fridays - Plank

Today is my first Fitness Friday post and I wanted to start off with a simple strengthening exercise that everyone should be doing at least three or four times a week yet I feel that many people are not aware of.  "Holding plank" is a term that I saw in many issues of Women's Health over the years and never really understood what this exercise is or how I should be doing it for best results.  It took some articles and Google searches for me to understand the power of this exercise and today my goal is teach many of you about the benefits of holding the Plank position and the best way to reap the benefits.

Plank is basically push up position...if you can do a true push up, then this exercise will be absolutely no problem for you.  Imagine getting into push up position (different arm positioning) and then holding the position for as long as you can.  Like any exercise, this will not be easy the first few times that you try it and will get easier the more than you practice it.

The Women's Health magazine is one of the best sources of information for females that want to get and stay in shape.  I am going to use their website for many of the Fitness Fridays and I hope that many of you will take more time to read their great magazine or check our their website articles.

This is categorized by Women's Health as a Basic Workout, this is a good way to start strengthening and toning as a workout beginner.  "Starting at the top of a pushup position, bend your elbows and lower yourself down until you can shift your weight from your hands to your forearms. Your body should form a straight line. Brace your abs (imagine someone is about to punch you in the gut) and hold for 60 seconds. If you can't make it to 60 seconds, hold for 5 to 10 seconds and rest for 5 seconds, continuing for 1 minute. Focus on form: Don't drop your hips or raise your butt."

The key of this paragraph is holding your abs in, your should feel your core tightening and the muscles being used.  The second key piece of information here is keeping your body in a straight line, you not feel your butt up in the air or see your hips at a lower place than the rest of your legs.  Once you have the feel of the position memorized, it is a very easy position to correctly get into each day you do a workout.

This position is not as easy it appears the first few times that you try it out.  I personally found that one minute is not realistic for someone just starting out with this position or with anyone that hasn't been working their core for several months beforehand.  The first time that I held plank, I couldn't get much longer than five seconds and then I had to go back and forth in between holding for five seconds and then resting for five more seconds.  After a month of doing this three times a week, I still cannot hold this for more than ten seconds without starting to feel a good burn in my core.  I will keep holding for about five more seconds with the burn and then I have to rest for five seconds. 

Holding plank is a key part of a great core workout and I have already found that core and abs are my hardest areas to work out and keep toned.  This move is one of the best ways to tighten your core and I mix it ups with multiple kinds of crunches to keep the toning power going.

Hope you enjoyed a change from the beauty products and next Friday we will continue health and fitness!

photo courtesy of Women's Health

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