Autumn Newsletter

The Core of Your Fitness Plan

Ready to take the 30-Day Plank Challenge? Maybe you'll set a new record! Read here to find out perfect form and more!

Your core muscles are more than just your abs. These muscles stabilize and help transfer energy to other areas of your body. The stability of strong core muscles helps protect the spine and its surrounding muscles. Dynamic movements enable efficient energy transfer from strong core muscles. In other words, when you walk, run, jump, lift, and stretch, your core muscles help you maintain your form and get the most out of any exercise. Studies have also shown that better core stability helps lower the chances of injury, so a strong core fitness plan is the best beginning for any exercise program.

One of the best, and easiest, exercises to work overall core muscles is the plank. It's the perfect exercise for any age or fitness level. Follow these simple steps to learn to do the perfect plank, take some plank challenges, and make your exercise programs more effective.

How To Do A Basic Plank

  1. Using a yoga mat or towel, lower yourself into a pushup or press-up position.
  2. Bend your elbows until your weight is on your forearms, not your hands. Your upper arms should be as straight as possible, elbows directly beneath your shoulders flat on the ground.
  3. Keep your body and legs in a straight line, from your head to your feet. Try to avoid arching your back. Look at the floor, but don't strain your neck to hold it in place.
  4. Your feet should be as vertical as possible, without putting any strain on your ankles.
  5. If you feel pressure in your shoulders, push back onto your feet so your elbows align with your shoulders.
  6. When in perfect position, tighten your abdominal muscles and hold this position for as long as possible.

How Long And How Often Should I Do A Plank?

Planks work many of the core muscles at once but, just like any other muscle, rest and recovery is needed. Perform planks two to three times a week. When beginning plank exercises, you'll probably be a bit disappointed about how difficult it is to hold the pose. Try to hold the pose for up to 30 seconds and repeat three to five times. As you become more proficient, increase the time or number of repetitions.

You will be amazed at how quickly you can build up your length and repetitions, but be sure to get enough rest between plank sessions.

Plank Variations For Fitness Levels

If your fitness level isn't as high as you'd like it to be, and you find yourself unable to do a single plank for even a few seconds, don't despair. Perform the exercise as above, but balance on your knees and forearms instead of toes and forearms. Keep your body in a straight line, and when you can hold a plank for 30 seconds, try to perform planks on your toes.

If you've built up to plank expert, try variations by holding one leg off the ground, performing a plank in pushup position, and even try doing some side planks.

Ready For A Plank Challenge?

A fun way to build up your plank ability is with the 30-Day Plank Challenge. Use the guide at http://30dayfitnesschallenges.com/30-day-plank-challenge/ to increase your time!

And if you want to see the Plank Challenge taken to the extreme, watch this video (Video here) to see 57-year-old George Hood set the Guiness World Record for Plank - 5 hours, 15 minutes, and 15 seconds!