It’s the sixth month of the year and if you’ve been following along we are making 2015 our healthiest year yet, one step at a time. Back in January I decided to work on one healthy habit each month rather than make a giant list of resolutions I would abandon by February. So far it is working. Small tweaks over time give you a chance to acquire new habits without being overwhelmed.
You can read find the previous habits here:
January: Drink Your Water
February: Stop Eating After Dinner
March: Eat Your Greens
April: Get Your Sleep
May: Walk it Off
Planks are deceiving — they look straightforward, but holding the position for any length of time is challenging. It is one of the best exercises for core conditioning, but it also works your glutes and hamstrings, supports proper posture, and improves balance.
Benefits of Planking
- Core Definition — when you perform a proper plank, you will engage the transverse abdominus, rectus abdominus, the obliques, and glutes. The move helps flatten your abs and create that “V” or hourglass shape.
- Reduce Risk of Injury — having a strong core both front and back allows you to safely perform movement in all directions, which comes in handy during daily activities (lifting groceries and kids, raking leaves, and even getting out of bed).
- Improves Posture — a strong core mean a more upright body. You will stand taller and are less likely to hunch.
- Improves Balance — you will have more stability and coordination with a strong core and will find it easier to find your equilibrium.
- Arm Definition — when in proper plank position, you will also work your shoulders and forearms.
How to Do It
To gain all the benefits above, you need to be doing this isometric exercise correctly. Holding a poor form will lead to problems and injuries.
- Body Position — keep your body totally straight from the top of your head to your heels — like a plank of wood. Think about tucking in your butt and pulling your belly button up and in. A bend in the hip and a butt pointing up in the air is a sure sign your form is off. You also don’t want to arch your back the other way which strains the lower back.
- Head and Neck — Keep your head and neck in neutral position. You should be gazing at the floor right in front of you.
- Legs and Feet — Plant your toes on the floor with your feet hip width apart. Ankles should be at a 90 degree angle.
- Arms and Hands — Your elbows should be planted directly under your shoulders and you can stretch your forearms out at a 90 degree angle.
- Don’t Forget to Breathe — Get into a rhythm with your breathing and you may even enter a meditation-like state!
Of course this is the basic plank formation. Once you have mastered the basics, you can make it harder by adding some variations. Follow Laura Greenaway Fitness on Facebook to get plank variations all through the month of June.
I am also hosting a free 30 Day Plank Challenge to help you work up from a 20 second plank to a 5 minuter! If you would like to join us, send me an email at email@example.com and I can get you signed-up.