Move of the Week: Plank Position

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For those of us who are trying to shape up, I thought I'd dedicate some space on Thursdays to moves, sweat and exercises. I hope to give you some inspiration and ideas to beat flab no matter where you are with your weight and workout goals.

If I'm not too beat from doing Beyonce for an hour in hip hop class, I take abs for 30 more minutes on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Recently, my awesome instructor told us: "If you ate cake over the holidays, you can do plank." 


Then she made us hold the position--and then hold it some more. Angel Williams, Group Exercise Coordinator (and dance/abs instructor) at New York Sports Club in Montclair, NJ, added that plank is one of the best exercises for your abs, and if you don't have time to exercise, a few minutes of doing plank every day can work every muscle in your body. Another plus to plank: It's not too strenuous on your body parts if you have aches, physical problems or are just getting started. You may have seen it in yoga class, too.

So read on for how-tos on Healthy Living's first official Move of the Week: Plank Position.

Here are Angel Williams' how-tos:

Get in Position

  • Start by lying face down on the ground (or use a yoga mat). Place your elbows and forearms underneath your chest.
  • Prop yourself up to form a bridge using your toes and forearms. You can do plank from your forearms if you're a beginner or push all the way up with your hands if you're more advanced.
  • Straighten out to a flat back and do not allow your hips to sag toward the ground.

Instructions

  • Hold this position until you can no longer maintain a flat back. Start with 5 or 10 seconds and gradually work up to 60 seconds. Repeat your plank once or twice in the beginning. Work up to doing 5 or 6 full repetitions.

Target muscles

  • Your core area: abs, hips, back. If you do a full plank from your hands, you're also getting a good bicep workout. But other areas of your body get a work out, too, from your toes and ankles up through the back of your neck.

I've had a super hectic Thursday, so I didn't do abs today. I am going to hit the floor right now and do a few planks. It wouldn't be fair for me to write about it, and not do it. I can only hold mine for about 20 seconds. And that's an improvement--I was at 5 seconds just a month ago.

How long do you think you can hold plank?


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